Once upon a time there lived a sea lion who had lost the sea. He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty that it could only be called a desert. A kind of course grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes wind, which together make one very thirsty. Of Course, it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. But things like this do happen. How the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so long ago. So long, in fact, it appeared as though he had always been there. Not that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was, after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.
I just finished The Journey of Desire by John Eldredge, the second book in the Sacred Romance series. As with his previous work, this one digs deep into my soul. This endeavor to define and explain the appetite of the human soul is remarkable. Eldredge describes elements of ourselves we cannot even begin to utter. It threatens the boundary we set up to protect ourselves against the disappointment and disillusionment we experience as we try to live the life we desire. It challenges us to dare to dream again and teaches us to examine our heart and to discern if there is still hunger and thirst for our heart’s desire. If you’ve lost your desire somewhere on the journey, this book will reawaken the hunger and reinstill hope in you. Eldredge teaches us not only to be honest about who we are and what we really want but also why we want it. And if we care enough to listen to our heart, God will reveal to us the whys of our desires. That will be sort of like a death and resurrection experience in itself.
Very rarely do I come across a book that speaks directly to me as much as this one and The Sacred Romance does. I am challenged, amused, relieved, and most of all hopeful by the time I was done with it.
I especially love the way he illustrate our condition through the story of the sea lion. That in itself is a gem. And there was that chapter about beauty and how crucial it is for us not to loose sight of it, if we are to make it home with our heart intact. “There are only two things that pierce the human heart, beauty and affliction. Because this is so true, we must have a measure of beauty in our lives proportionate (if not far more) to our affliction…..It comforts and soothes, stirs, moves and inspires us.” Suddenly I feel wonderfully fortunate to know a God who not only believes in beauty but who so lavishly surrounds us with lots of it. Quite in contrast to some Eastern mystics who focus on the suffering aspect of life and the desire to escape it, we are called to look at a world overflowing with beauty and to allow it to lead our heart to the source of it.
If you’ve been depressed, disillusioned, disappointed and life for you seems like an endless cycle of duties and responsibilities and you suspect the wall around you might be hardening a little everyday, killing your desires along with your dreams, then this book will rock your little world and leaves you permanently refocused. It is a wealth of real life knowledge for those who dare open it’s cover and begin the adventure. Together with its predecessor, The Sacred Romance, it is one of the most passionate, insightful and honest writing about life’s journey by a fellow traveller I have read to date.
Three weeks after the wind ceased to blow, the sea lion had a dream. Now, as I told you before, there were other nights in which he had dreamed of the sea. But those were long ago and nearly forgotten. Even still, the ocean that filled his dreams this night was so beautiful and clear, so vast and deep, it was as if he were seeing it for the very first time. The sunlight glittered on its surface, and as he dived, the waters all around him shone like an emerald. If he swam quite deep, it turned to jade, cool and dark and mysterious. But he was never frightened, not at all. For I must tell you that in his dreams of the sea, he had never before found himself in the company of other sea lions. This night there were many, round about him, diving and turning, spinning and twirling. They were playing. Oh, how he hated to wake from that wonderful dream. The tears running down his face were the first wet thing he had felt in three weeks. But he did not pause even to wipe them away, he did not pause, in fact, for anything at all. He set his face to the east, and he began to walk as best a sea lion can.
“Where are you going?” asked the tortoise.
” I am going to find the sea.”