*Alternate* First Reading: “For Those Who Have Far to Travel” by Jan Richardson

If you could see the journey whole
you might never undertake it;
might never dare the first step
that propels you
from the place you have known
toward the place you know not.

Call it one of the mercies of the road:
that we see it only by stages
as it opens before us,
as it comes into our keeping
step by single step.

There is nothing for it but to go
and by our going take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to the next step;
to rely on more than the map;
to heed the signposts of intuition and dream;
to follow the star that only you will recognize;
to keep an open eye for the wonders that attend the path;
to press on beyond distractions

beyond fatigue
beyond what would tempt you from the way.

There are vows that only you will know;
the secret promises for your particular path
and the new ones you will need to make
when the road is revealed by turns
you could not have foreseen.

Keep them, break them, make them again:
each promise becomes part of the path;
each choice creates the road
that will take you to the place
where at last you will kneel to offer the gift
most needed— the gift that only you can give—
before turning to go home by another way.

The words of Jan Richardson

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