following the path you can’t see

IMG_7082Umstead State Park, Raleigh, NC  – Photo by Viki Atkinson

There’s a quote that’s been around for years, something along the lines of “growing old ain’t for sissies.” I’d like to propose that living your life by following (or trying to follow) spiritual guidance ain’t for sissies, either.

That stepping out in faith thing? A lot of the time it’s like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which he comes upon an impossibly wide bottomless abyss that he has to cross to continue his quest—only there’s no bridge or Tarzan swing or anything that might help him do that. His only option is to take a step out over the abyss and hope like hell something will happen to help him across. When he finally does step out (spoiler alert!), his foot lands on something solid—invisible, but solid. So he takes another step, and he makes it all the way across on an invisible bridge that never would have shown itself if he hadn’t taken that first trusting step.

For five or six years now, I’ve been feeling as though I’m being led to and prepared for some…purpose…and yet the specifics of that purpose remain elusive. Continue reading

trust and the threads of time, part 1

I’ve been juggling a lot since last spring. Some of the juggling has had to do with external, day-to-day stuff out in the physical world, but most of the juggling has been in my mind/heart/spirit/soul. I’m creating what is, at heart, a completely new life—saying goodbye to some things, hello to others, and trying to figure out how to tweak still others and keep them a part of the whole as I go forward.

To be honest, I’m a little worn out from all the changes in my life over the last few years, and frankly, I’d just as soon take a break. My faith and trust muscles have been getting quite the workout. However, a couple of things happened in the last week that have shifted my perspective, albeit in an odd, out-of-left-field kind of way. This post is about one of them.

Last Saturday, I bought a rug for my living room. Mind you, we’re not talking about a major purchase here. I have a small cottage, with a small living room to match, and I’ve never spent more than $100 on a rug. As a lifelong independent/freelance artist, my decorating budget has never been large, which has, shall we say, encouraged me to be creative in more ways than one when it comes to furnishing my home. Luckily, my taste has never run to “new” things, and I love doing DIY projects, so I’ve been quite happy to inherit furniture from family and friends and buy shabby thrift-store-furniture-with-potential, as long as the pieces suited my personal style. I’ve ended up with a home that I like and that visitors regularly call “warm and inviting.”

The rug I bought from Target six or so years ago was a perfectly nice rug when I bought it, and I received a number of compliments about it over the years. However, it’s lived through the usual pet accidents and incidents and a fair amount of general wear and tear during that time, and it’s been looking pretty sad for a while now—rips and tears and places where you can see through to the backing. In the last few months, it started to smell musty and old, like it had been slept on for many years by my dog (which, of course, it had). It was time for a new rug.

Before we get to the new rug, however, I need to back up and tell the story of the amazing Restoration Hardware chenille throw. (I know this post probably sounds like it belongs on a home decorating blog, but bear with me.) Continue reading

for longing ~john o’donohue

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging–in love, creativity, and friendship–
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

~John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us. All rights reserved.

 

fast forward

When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon or you will be taught to fly.
~Patrick Overton

I read somewhere once that the Universe (or God or whatever you call the divine force) first speaks us in a whisper. If we don’t pay attention, it speaks a little louder, and if we’re still not listening, it ups the volume to a shout—metaphorically speaking, of course. And if we’re not moving fast enough on following the guidance of the divine, sometimes it gives us a little nudge. If we ignore the nudge, we get a big ol’ shove.

Well, it seems the Universe wants me to move a little faster with my big leap than I had in mind. It seems I need to get a move on, so I’ve been presented with a situation that’s requiring me to pretty much drop everything and concentrate on wrapping up the current chapter of my life so that I can move on to the next one. Note: this means saying farewell to “what is” without really knowing “what’s next”…except in a very general sense.

It’s a little scary. No, actually, it’s a lot scary. I really don’t know how I’m going to do what needs to be done in the time that it needs to happen, but I don’t really have much choice. It’s what’s in front of me. And once I do accomplish it? Well, I know the general direction, but the details that will get me from here to there? Don’t have a clue.

The ingredients for this venture? A LOT of faith. Good friends. Deep breaths. Repeating mantras (a LOT) like, “It’s all going to work out. It’s going to be fine. I can do this.” More faith.

Initially, I was a basket case. Today, I’m optimistic but nervous. I still get overwhelmed when I think about what’s in front of me, but at the moment, I’m hanging in there. As I said in an email to a friend: “One foot in front of the other. Deep breaths.” And as a fellow dancer once said to me: “Breathe and sway. Breathe and sway.”

So here I go—breathing and swaying, one foot in front of the other, full speed ahead.

grace

   Photo by Lisa Tate

…I want first of all—in fact, as an end to these other desires—to be at peace with myself.  I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact—to borrow from the language of the saints—to live ‘in grace’ as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony…”

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The concept of grace has surfaced a lot in my reading lately. However, like Lindbergh, I’m not talking about grace in a theological sense. Although my spiritual seeking has continued and even deepened over the years, I have long since ceased being a “religious” person.

Grace isn’t something you earn or deserve or make happen. Although you can pray for grace, it most often arrives unexpectedly and unbidden and manifests in such a way that it leaves you with a feeling of awe, of peace, of being blessed.  Continue reading

divine telegrams

Not long after my divorce, I was in a home improvement store, feeling depressed and alone and exasperatedly trying to get 8-foot shoe molding to stay in my cart so that I could maneuver it through the aisles to check out.  As I was trying to accomplish this, a man passing by me looked at me and said, “You’ll be alright.” He, of course, thought he was talking to me about the shoe molding, but what I heard was the Universe responding to the sadness and loss and despair I was feeling, telling me that it would all be okay. I stood in the middle of the aisle, tears welling up in my eyes, and smiled. Continue reading