A Traveler Toward the Dawn by John Eagan is one of the most treasured books on my bookshelf. I have read this book at least five or six times and I just finished reading it again. This is a book that has been extremely formative in my life. It is not a popular book and looking back I have no recollection as to how I ever came across this book. I know that I read it for the first time in the early 1990s and I know that I gleaned its title from the bibliography of another book that I was reading at the time. The copy of the book that I currently have in my possession is not my original copy. My original, marked up, tear stained copy is most likely sitting on a bookshelf in an office or a study of one of my friends. I have purchased many copies of this book and have passed them along to a number of people over the years.
This morning, as I read the final paragraph of the book and closed the back cover, I had to take a few moments to reflect, pray and weep. The story between the covers of A Traveler Toward the Dawn deeply touches my heart. It is the story and spiritual journal of John Eagan, a Jesuit Priest of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, who spent most of his life teaching high school students and guiding them along in their spiritual journeys.
John Eagan’s life was not only one of service unto high school students and a commitment to the life of being a Jesuit Priest but it was also the life of one who was hard after God. John Eagan was a seeker and a finder of God. In my earlier readings of this book I found appealing the connection between the very real life and heart of this man and his dynamic journey with his very immanent and loving Heavenly Father. This book was my first experience with terms like liturgy, daily office, contemplative prayer and spiritual direction, and it was my first exposure to the concepts of liberation theology and to the thoughts of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order.
I return again and again to this book because in John Eagan’s spiritual journal I find an honest account of a very ordinary person’s journey in Christ. In his writing I find a pilgrim who travels with the Lord through the desolation and the beauty of this world and of his own heart. As he wrestles with the issues of self-centeredness, the passage of time and the unrelenting reality of change, he is ever looking to God, desiring more and more of the Lover of his soul, and throughout his journey he finds God faithful. This book has greatly impacted my pilgrimage to God and I suspect, if given the chance, I will read it again as I travel toward the dawn.