I shouldn’t have liked them as a child but I did.
I shouldn’t have found the wilderness landscapes through which they pressed a source of fascination – nor the autumns and winters that darkened their travels.
On this yearly feast in the calendar of saints comes the reminder of a connection that is fresh and stubbornly powerful.
Not everyone chooses the French explorers Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brébeuf for soul companions. If I prefer to call them explorers rather than missionaries or martyrs, it is because I find myself on a day like this attuned to the unknown into which they kept venturing. Surer than any of the certainties I may at one time have imagined centering or grounding them was the inevitability of those unknowns – the next minute’s safety, the next day’s destination, the next chapter to unfold in a story that could go anywhere.
On a day like this I want the courage and the intensity that made those unknowns life-giving and profound.