First a story, then a reflection …
Let me begin by saying that God did an awesome job in the North Dakota Badlands! Beautiful country, so beautiful you could get lost in it. Which I did. To make a long story short, a friend and I went off trail down a hoof track, had an awesome hike, stopped for lunch, and then couldn’t find our way back. What was such a clear path going in was not at all clear when we turned around to to go out. We found several hoof paths we never noticed going in, tried out many, but none seemed right. We kept having to go back to our lunch spot to try another one. Finally, out of the process of elimination, we found our trail, and with huge sighs of relief, we set off for the car.
All went well, until we got back to the main trail. And again, we found ourselves at a loss – what seemed like one trail leading out, had turned into about four possible trails leading back. Did I mention that the main trails look exactly like hoof tracks? Again, we tried one after another, and none looked or felt right. There was one trail we couldn’t try – three bison had decided it was a great nap spot and there was no way around them, so we finally just picked a hoof path and took off, even though we knew we were not on the right trail. We just had to commit ourselves to a direction and go, risks and all, and hope it got us close to where we wanted to be. (Yes, I know, all advice says stay put, but trust me, that was not the best option in this case!)
It was a very humbling experience, but it was also very empowering. We knew that if we kept trying, we would eventually find our way out. But if we panicked, or if we froze, or if we waited for someone else to come along and rescue us, it could have been very bad. We had to step out in faith, and take the risk that even if it we weren’t on the best path, it would still get us where we wanted to go. Needless to say, we made it out, and we felt awesome!
This is a powerful story for me. As you will see in the next two posts (Getting Lost and Insights into Trust), there was much to learn from this experience. One primary lesson: there are many paths, many directions we could take, and we had no guarantee which one will get us where we want to go, that is, if we even know where we want to go. (We did – back to the car!) And of course, unless you take every possible path that presents itself, who is to say that more than one wouldn’t eventually circle around and get us back to the car? What worked for us was that we knew the general direction we needed to go, and even if we weren’t on the same path we came in on, if we kept as straight a path as we could, we knew we would eventually find our way out.
In life, we may not know exactly what we want to do, or what path to walk to answer that nagging feeling, or nudging from the spirit. It helps to have a general direction. In the Christian tradition, we have Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to help guide us in a good way. He talks about seeking to make peace with others, walking humbly in this land, showing mercy to all, offering grace to all, working for justice, righting wrongs when you can, caring for others, keeping your word, loving your enemies, and giving generously.
If we, as seekers of God and spiritual people seeking to live meaningful lives, take that as a guide, I believe we will eventually find ourselves where God desires us to be, and the people we were created to be. But not only that, you’ll also be able to look back at where you’ve come and see the beautiful footprints you have left behind in the lives of others.
Sue Coller~Rooted in God ~Open to Grace ~Filled with Joy ~Embracing the Heart of the Healer