Monday Meditation: Walking in Love

Monday Meditation: Walking in Love

The Experience

I walked a new labyrinth on Saturday.

It was cold and windy, and soon it would be raining. I had come to the Labyrinth Walk Meetup directly from a Saturday morning centering prayer group, which incorporates a short lectio divina practice, where I had been chewing on Nan Merrill‘s twist on Psalm 46:10-11:

Be still and know that I am Love. I am exalted among the nations. I am exalted in the earth! The One who knows all hearts is with us; The Beloved is our refuge and our strength.

In preparation for the walk, I journaled about God as love and recalled how I have been invited this year to remain in God’s love. I set my intention of continuing to be present in the love of God and to be attentive to God as the Beloved without the need for words or the expectation for some grand experience. I gently rang the singing bowl to call attention to this threshold, this thin space, and I stepped into the labyrinth.

I walked the path laid out before me, holding my intention as lightly as I could, and gradually I began to notice––as I walked and paused and breathed and looked––that running through my mind was the hymn “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” one of my favorites but one that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Over and over as I walked, I heard my favorite lines:

…Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free…

Underneath me, all around me
Is the current of your love
Leading onward…

Each step I took, each breath, each pause along the journey was fully enveloped in God’s love. I had to smile, as I braced against the chilly wind, at the way God continually shows up to me––sometimes in surprising ways, and sometimes exactly as I hoped and prayed. Such a simple intentional walk brought such a beautiful and full experience of who God is.

I came to the end of the labyrinth, there on the edge of the world, breathed deeply, and rang the singing bowl again. This time, stepping across the threshold, I brought with me the current of God’s love leading me onward and the prayer that it might infuse and inform the way I choose to interact with the world as I re-entered it. I brought with me a renewed intention to remain in God’s love.

The Practice

Watch and listen to the video below and simply meditate on God’s love. You may want to replay the video a couple of times to allow yourself time to sink into the experience and notice what arises in you. As you play the video, you may want to try walking a finger labyrinth or coloring a mandala to help you focus your attention and energy. Be patient with yourself. Receive whatever comes up as a gift and hold it lightly before God.

You might also like to listen to this episode of the Daily Lectio Divina podcast.

The Response

And now, fellow pilgrims, I invite you to share about your experience in the comments below.

What came up for you?

What was it like to open yourself up to receive and experience God’s love?

Where might God’s love be leading you?

May we all walk in love today. Blessings on the journey, friends!

Monday Meditation: Visio Divina at the Museum

Monday Meditation: Visio Divina at the Museum

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing right now, pause. Take a moment to collect your attention. Settle into a space of inner quiet.

Now, look at the photo below. Keep looking.

Where is your eye drawn to first? Where would you place yourself in the photo? Invite God to meet you wherever you are in the photo. What stirs within you as you gaze? Notice any emotions, memories, or associations rising.

Sit for a moment with whatever comes up––without judgment or critique. Breathe. Rest.

Take some time to journal as you reflect on your experience. Share in the comments below.

Seeing and Being Seen
I took the photo above on a recent visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art here in Kansas City where a friend of mine hosts an occasional guided visio divina experience. On this particular night, I wandered around the museum longer than usual, wondering what would capture my gaze and trying to stay open and attentive. I entered one room and then another and another until I saw it, the photo above, there at the end of a long hallway, staring me down.

I felt uncomfortable and self-conscious as I walked down the hallway, closer and closer to the image. I noticed my discomfort and realized with reluctance that this was my image for the evening, so I pulled a stool up to the wall, sat down across from the photo, and opened my journal to sketch what I saw, per the instructions of the guided spiritual practice.

Now, I’m no artist, not even by elementary school standards, but I dutifully drew and drew, filling the page with my honest attempt to focus, notice, and capture every detail of what I saw. I reflected as I drew on the intensity and intimacy of the gaze in the photo, the unashamed revealing of the signs of age, and the unapologetic boldness of the photographer. I imagined my shape in the reflection of his large dark eyes and observed my feeling of exposure as I held his gaze, looked away, and looked again.

And as I drew, a man passed behind me in the hallway and paused to peek down with interest at my sketch. Reflexively, I hid the drawing against my chest as I looked up at him in horror, wondering how much he had seen in his brief glance and what criticism and judgment were flitting through his mind when he realized my utter lack of talent here surrounded by these monuments of artistic expression. He started at my abrupt response, apologized, and rushed on his way around the corner as I laughed and called after him that it was okay, really.

I laughed again to myself as I turned the page in my journal and began to reflect on this serendipitous interruption to my spiritual practice. I noted the overwhelming discomfort and exposure I felt at having someone, especially a stranger, see my poor performance in an activity I was attempting with genuine effort despite my certain failure. And I laughed at myself as I realized that here in the very moment I was reflecting seriously on the experience of seeing and being seen, revealing and being revealed, I was exposed as a poor artist by a stranger just as I was exposing my vulnerable, imperfect self before God. I took gladly the opportunity to poke gentle fun at myself and shake off the veil of the serious and studious contemplative to see a bit of my true self peeking out underneath.

I looked at Pablo Picasso’s face again, the unapologetic expression in his eyes, and saw in them the invitation to drop the veil a bit more often, to embrace the imperfections in myself, and to approach my spiritual practice with a bit more childlike spirit. It was an invitation to embrace the artless (both literally and figuratively) elements of myself. And I realized I was being invited to see myself as I really am and to allow myself to be seen just as I am, flaws and all, not only by God but also by those around me, even strangers at the museum. It may feel like uncomfortable exposure in the moment, but it is really just another layer peeling back to reveal a little more of who I am, of who have been created to be.

Questions to ponder:
What was your experience gazing at the photo?

What comes up for you as you imagine seeing and being seen?

How might God be inviting you to see yourself right now? To see others?

Monday Meditation: The House (Part 1) and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The House (Part 1) and the Invitation to Remain

Back in early 2017, I shared that my word for the year is remain, arising out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine, and that I began to realize that God has been dropping other similar metaphors like breadcrumbs for me to follow: the image of a buoy, the image of a tree, the image of a shepherd, and the image of a rock climber.

And then I stopped publishing new blog posts. Part of the reason for that was the necessary shift in attention toward contributing to the launch and care of the Common House online community. At the same time, my husband and I began the journey from apartment-renting to home-ownership and renovation. Now, here I am sitting in my newly-painted kitchen, watching the leaves fall as our puppies wrestle in their very own back yard, and I realize that God has given me yet another breadcrumb. This time, it’s not only a metaphor but also a tangible, lived experience: the image of moving into a new house.

The New House

There is something so permanent about owning a house. The space is entirely your own. A blank canvas to be filled up with your lifestyle, your personality, and your family. You can leave your mark, not just with a paint color or a painting on the wall, but also with trees and bushes planted, structural changes, and upgrades––able to be enjoyed by future owners or even future family members.

Let’s imagine your dream house. What country, city, or neighborhood would you choose? Who would your neighbors be? How many bedrooms? One floor or two? Would you have an office or an exercise room? A pool or a wooded back yard? A small lot or many acres? Who would live there with you? Where would your sacred space be? Where would the family gather? How would you leave your mark? You might like to sketch the image in your mind or make a wish list.

Now, take a moment to reflect on what you’ve imagined. What might your choices reveal about your values, your desires, your hopes? What might God be inviting you to notice?

When my husband and I began the search to buy a house here in Kansas, I realized I didn’t have a dream house. Since I first left home at age 18 to go to college, I have lived in dorms, rented rooms, and apartments. Since marrying my husband six-and-a-half years ago, we have moved six times and lived in five towns and in three states. Temporary living space has seemed fitting and even necessary for such a transitory way of life, but it also lends itself to feeling temporary and depersonalized. It was hard for me to imagine my ideal permanent space, and I felt overwhelmed by all the options. What if I made the wrong choice or didn’t like the result? What if I changed my mind later? It felt like shifting sand under my feet.

But then I realized all those details didn’t really matter. We didn’t have to make all the decisions at once. And if we didn’t like the result, we could start over and try something else. I was approaching home-ownership like a temporary resident, feeling pressured to squeeze everything that comes with permanent living into the space of a 12-month lease. But God was inviting me to learn to remain, to think long-term in my space, to relax and release, stretch out and expand, explore and experiment.

A house has many rooms, and they are all waiting to be useful to you, to help you live into your space and out of your space, to give you an anchor, a touch point. Because you don’t just live in your house. You leave it to drive to work, drop the kids at school, pick up groceries, walk the dog, go out into the world and make your mark there, too. And then you come back again, and again, and again. You come back to rest, to nourish yourself and others, to spend time alone and with family, to bring something new from the world to store up for a later time, to host others, to play, and to just simply be. Your house is there to protect you, to provide for you, and to remind you of who you are and what you care about most.

You come home, you go out into the world, and you come home again. You always come back to the same place, that place you have made your own and that you can always call your own, that safe place that is always ready and waiting to welcome you.

The Invitation to Remain

Next week we’ll continue the house theme with a reflection on moving into Common House. For now, fellow pilgrims, I am renewing my prayer that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what is your dream house like? What did your reflection bring up in you? In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: The Rock Climber and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The Rock Climber and the Invitation to Remain

Recently, I shared that my word for the year is remain arising out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine and that I began to realize that God has been dropping other similar metaphors like breadcrumbs for me to follow.  One of those breadcrumbs is the image of a buoy, another is the image of a tree, and still another is the image of a shepherd.  This week, I’d like to share another breadcrumb: the image of a rock climber hanging below the edge of a cliff.

The Rock Climber

I have never been rock climbing, not even indoors.  I do not understand the desire to pull yourself up a craggy rock face with the constant threat of imminent harm or even death at the slightest misstep or misjudged hold.  But I am aware that the harder and more technical the climb, the more specialized gear you need: shoes, harness, helmet, carabiners, and of course rope.

Now stick with me.  There are basically two types of climbing ropes: dynamic and static.  A static rope is stiff and used for going down (rappelling) and if (God-forbid!) you need rescuing while a dynamic rope is more elastic and is designed to hep protect you if you lose your grip by absorbing some of the force generated when you fall.

Imagine you are hanging in midair, suspended between the ground far below you and the top of a cliff above.  Rough rock inches from your face.  Wide open space all around.  Just you, swinging slightly as a breeze rushes by.  A brightly colored rope bears your full weight, thick and tightly braided.  Which kind of rope is it?

Are you going up or down? Do you need rescuing or support and guidance as you continue toward your goal? Are you depending on a stiff rope that will not give, or do you need as much elasticity as you can manage?

This image came to me unexpectedly at a moment in my life when I felt particularly un-grounded, longing for firm support under my feet.  I felt the anxiety and panic of hanging over the edge, clinging desperately to a thin line of rope–the only thing connecting me to the safety above; the only thing keeping me from plummeting through empty space to certain harm below.  I began to contemplate the rope that was holding me up. I wondered what it was attaching me to far up above.  A big tree with a thick trunk and strong roots? A giant, immovable boulder? Or perhaps something less stable.  A sapling bent far toward the ground by my weight on the rope? A small knot caught in a sharp crack in the rock face? If I moved, would the rope hold?  Did I dare climb up, or ought I to go down?  Was I being invited to put all my faith in the rope?  Or was I being invited to notice just how precarious my position was?

For a long time since, the memory of this image has bothered me.  Why such a perplexing metaphor with so many interpretations (and not all of them comforting)?  As I meditate on these breadcrumbs that have led me to the invitation to remain, I am beginning to notice their complexity.  These images have guided me toward a greater understanding of who God is, but they have also reflected back to me precisely what I struggle with and helped me name and take ownership of those parts of myself I have been less willing to acknowledge, like the stranger within.  How kind of God to use what I can readily understand to draw me gently toward what still remains hidden, waiting to be discovered.

The Invitation to Remain

And so, my fellow pilgrims, I have not stopped praying in these past weeks that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what kind of rope are you using, and what is it attaching you to?  In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: The Shepherd and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The Shepherd and the Invitation to Remain

Recently, I shared that my word for the year is remain arising out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine and that I began to realize that God has been dropping other similar metaphors like breadcrumbs for me to follow.  One of those breadcrumbs is the image of a buoy and another is the image of a tree.  This week, I’d like to share another breadcrumb: the image of a shepherd who uses both goads and nails to guide us.

The Shepherd

One of the biblical images that participated in my call to attend seminary arose from a completely unrelated conversation with an unsuspecting family member as we sat together at the holiday dinner table.

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. – Ecclesiastes 12:11, emphasis added

How odd, I have often reflected since that first conversation, how contradictory that the shepherd is depicted as giving both goads that provoke and stimulate movement and nails that eliminate movement.  The shepherd drives us out of one place toward another and at the same time firmly embeds us in place.

This season of transition has lasted so long that it has become more of a lifestyle, a way of being in the world.  In these past years, I have often felt myself on the receiving end of the spiked stick urging me onward, and in the midst of the constant transition, I have longed for a nail to hold me in place.  Instead of just waiting for the time when I can settle down in one location, I am beginning to notice the ways God has been inviting me to remain in the midst of the transition.

I am beginning to recognize that these breadcrumbs have both drawn me further along the path and kept me firmly on it.  Maybe being embedded isn’t about staying in one place but about staying on one path, remaining oriented in one direction: onward.

The Invitation to Remain

And so, my fellow pilgrims, I continue to pray that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what keeps you firmly embedded?  In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: The Tree and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The Tree and the Invitation to Remain

Two weeks ago, I shared that my word for the year is remain and that it arose out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine. Last week I shared that one of those breadcrumbs is the image of a buoy.  This week, I’d like to share another breadcrumb: the image of a tree, deeply rooted in rich soil.

The Tree

One of my favorite prayers in the Bible is the prayer Paul prays for the Ephesians.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

I love the image of being rooted and established in God’s all surpassing love.  What a truly freeing and sustaining foundation for our daily lives!

I wrote recently about my fascination with trees and how watching them as they lose their leaves reminds me that letting go is a necessary and natural part of life:

The roots grow down and down, far below the surface, deep into darkness where all that has fallen away and died has seeped in and enriched the soil to feed the tree.

Where the roots are planted determines what nutrition the tree takes in.  A tree planted by water looks very different from a tree planted in the desert. Consider how different the evergreen is from the maple, the willow from the joshua.  The soil influences the health of their branches, leaves, and flowers or fruit.  In fact, the quality and makeup of the soil even helps determine what kind of tree is capable of surviving in it.

Trees are inspiringly resilient.  They survive for decades and even centuries despite drought, fire, storms, and human encroachment.  Although they may twist and bend with the wind, lose leaves and branches along the way, and bear the battle scars of natural disasters, they survive and even thrive because of their roots.  Their roots are strong and deeply embedded in the rich soil–a soil enriched by the natural disasters they manage to escape.  On the surface things may look tenuous, but underneath the tree is firmly anchored and grounded.

The Invitation to Remain

And so, my fellow pilgrims, I continue to pray that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what grounds you, roots you, and nourishes you from the bottom up? In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: The Buoy and the Invitation to Remain

Monday Meditation: The Buoy and the Invitation to Remain

The Vine

Last week I shared that my word for the year is remain and that it arose out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine:

A branch that remains in the vine is fully satisfied because all its needs are met: food and water, connection to the source, part of the whole, fulfilling its purpose by bearing fruit, being fully itself–what it is made for.

As I reflected on this invitation to remain in God’s love, I began to notice the many ways God has already been drawing me down this path in the past 10 years, dropping metaphors like breadcrumbs for me to follow. I’d like to share some of those breadcrumbs with you in these next several weeks.

One of those breadcrumbs is the image of a buoy.

The Buoy

Imagine you are standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  The sky is gray, and the wind is loud, ripping through your clothes and hair.  The sea below you is choppy, white-tipped waves crashing into one another at the mercy of shifting winds and rushing undercurrents.  As you look out over the water, you notice a small red-and-white buoy caught in the battle of wind and current, tossed carelessly in one direction and then another by the relentless waves.

As you watch the buoy being cast about, you begin to notice something.  The buoy is never dragged out into the open sea; it is never washed up on to the shore or carried down the coastline out of view.  The buoy shifts easily in the choppy water, flexing in all directions, sometimes bending so far that its tip touches the surface, but it does not move–not really.  It is anchored, holding firm and grounded in one place down deep at the bottom on the ocean floor.

The Invitation to Remain

And so, my fellow pilgrims, my prayer is that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.

As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what anchors you? In what are you being invited to remain?

Monday Meditation: Now remain in my love

Monday Meditation: Now remain in my love

The Vine

I wasn’t looking for a Word this year.  A word that defines, inspires, and focuses my spiritual journey for the present.  In past years, I have sometimes chosen a word or had a word, image, or Bible verse capture my attention for a season.  But not this year.  The last several weeks have been particularly and overwhelmingly chaotic for me, and I just hadn’t given it any thought at all.

But then, in a recent prayer time, a word unexpectedly chose me: remain.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  – John 15:4, 9

A branch that remains in the vine is fully satisfied because all its needs are met: food and water, connection to the source, part of the whole, fulfilling its purpose by bearing fruit, being fully itself–what it is made for.

The branch can take the vine for granted.  It can take and take as much as it wants from the vine.  The vine never runs out of resources and never gets fed up with providing for the branch’s needs.  That is what agape is.  The branch’s only role, its only way of giving back, its only participation in the relationship is the choice to stay connected, to remain in the vine.   Even bearing fruit is not something the branch must do but a natural result of its right relationship with the vine.  All that is required of the branch is to trust in the vine’s faithfulness by choosing to remain connected.

The Invitation

The past several years, perhaps even the past 10 years, have carried a central theme of transitory living.  I mentioned in my last post that I have been well acquainted with waiting in these recent years.  I have lived in a constant state of flux, always anticipating the next change but never knowing exactly when it would come or where I would find myself living next.  As a result, I have so often felt alone and isolated.  Each time I began to feel connected to a town, a church community, or a job I was working, the next change would suddenly whisk me away. I would be left having to start all over again.

Now, I am being invited to remain–not in a physical location, not in a person or community, not in a particular job or occupation–but simply and completely in God’s love.  God’s infinite, inexhaustible, abundant, fulfilling and satisfying, comforting, faithful love is being freely offered to me.  I have only to reach out and take it into myself.

I have only to choose to remain in God’s love. Wherever the next change takes me, I can never lose that connection.  I can hold onto the promise that, as I choose to remain in God’s love, so God chooses to remain in me.

So, my fellow pilgrims, as we walk this way together awhile, what connection are you being invited into? In what are you being invited to remain?

Do you have a Word for 2017? What word defines, inspires, and focuses your spiritual journey for this next season?

Monday Meditation: We Begin with the Waiting

Monday Meditation: We Begin with the Waiting

Advent is my favorite season of the liturgical year.  I have always identified most with its themes of darkness and waiting.  As a night owl, I have always found the darkness and solitude of the middle-of-the-night hours to be the most creative, inspiring, and restorative.  As a destination-oriented person, I have struggled to learn to live out and lean into seasons of waiting in my life.  Advent so deeply resonates with me precisely because the waiting has a purpose and an end-point.  It is a season of joyful expectation of the new thing that is about to come into being.  It is a season of hope.

When I created my Advent wreath several years ago, I chose to use the color blue instead of purple because of its association with enlivening hope.  Advent teaches us what it is to have faith that what is promised to come will in fact come:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

Seasons of waiting are inevitable and indeed vital in our lives, which Advent reminds us of again and again, yet we hope in that as-yet-unseen realization of purpose that we have been promised.  In seasons of waiting, we hope for change.  We hope for renewal.  We hope for fruition.  We hope for enough hope to sustain us all the way through the curve.

I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases this verse:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.

Our faith–our hope in what we have not yet seen but joyfully anticipate–is the firm foundation that we build upon.  It is the rich soil of love that our roots grow down deeply into.

That is why, I think, the liturgical year opens with this particular season.  We begin every year not with the celebration of the birth of the Emmanuel but with the waiting with hope in joyful expectation that soon, so very soon, our God-[will be]-with-us just as we have been promised!  We begin every year with this reminder, this invitation to return again to the beginning, the beginning of our story, the beginning of the story of God.  Just as St. Benedict encourages us still with his centuries-old wisdom, we are always being invited to begin again.

As we enter this last week of Advent, amidst all the busy last-minute shopping and preparations for gathering together in the coming celebration, we are continually reminded that we are, after all, just beginning.  We are reminded to slow down, to pause and reflect, to lean into these last days and hours of darkness and solitude with hopeful, joyful anticipation.  We are invited to begin opening up the deep places in ourselves, creating space in preparation for what is coming.

Because we know what is coming.

And when it comes, our hearts will have been made ready to receive yet again and still ever more deeply this always-accessible gift of the presence of God, intimately involved and engaged in our lives and within our very selves.

Personally, I can hardly wait! How about you?

Monday Meditation: Driving the Long Curve

Monday Meditation: Driving the Long Curve

I remember my first day of driving school.  It was a Wednesday, and it had been pouring rain all day long.  As I walked through the rain from the school building to the parking lot where my private driving instructor–a retired highway patrol officer–waited for me in the little white car with “Student Driver” displayed in large block letters across the rear fender, I was filled with anxiety and dread.  Why did it have to be raining so hard on my first day?  Surely, I was being set up for failure.

But my driving instructor was calm and cheerful, shockingly confident in my fledgling driving skills.  Learning to drive in the rain was the best way, he assured me.  If I could drive in the rain on my first day, then I could drive in any conditions.  I had no choice but to trust his judgment, and I was strangely buoyed by his trust in my untried capability.  I carefully followed his instructions as we made our way out of the parking lot and through the neighborhood to the main road.

The Long Curve

Before I knew it, I was driving in a part of town I had never been to before.  The straight road I had been following as we practiced changing lanes slowly began to curve–and curve and curve some more!  I had never driven on a road that was not straight before, and certainly not a wet, unfamiliar, not-straight road.  I panicked and began to turn the wheel too far into the curve.  I still remember his large, wrinkled hand reaching out to steady the wheel, gently guiding the car back into our lane.  He kept his hand on the wheel as he calmly explained that driving on a long curve was not like turning a corner.   The wheel would need to be constantly and gently corrected to keep the car following along with the curve without veering too far into the inner wall or too far out into the oncoming traffic lanes.  We kept driving that way–three hands on the wheel–all the way through the curve so I could feel the incremental shifts he made to the left and to the right as we guided the car together.

The Tension of the Curve

I’ve shared before about the beauty of walking the labyrinth:

As I walk the labyrinth, I gradually realize again and again that the invitation of the labyrinth is to embrace the nonlinear journey: full of twists and turns and doubling back, circling right back to the starting point–but not quite. Although I feel like I’m back in the same place again, I’m actually still moving forward along the same path, the only path, the only way to the center–where the presence of God is waiting to reveal just a little more of the true self.

Similarly, I think walking our spiritual path can sometimes feel like driving a car on a curving road.  In order to keep moving forward along the curve, we have to do a lot more work, constantly–yet gently–correcting the wheel as we go.  Jerking the wheel or turning too far one way or the other can veer the car too far and cause a crash.  Balancing and holding in tension are needed to keep the car moving safely and continuing to follow the path laid out ahead.

The Letting Go

There is also an invitation to let go of the desire for the path we are on to be straight.  We can’t control whether the path laid out for us is straight or curved.  We are not promised an easy life devoid of difficulty and suffering.  The path we are invited to take is in fact narrow and hidden, often overlooked even by those who are searching for it–perhaps simply because the path does not turn out to be what they expected.

The obscurity of the path is in itself an invitation to seek out companionship as we journey.  Driving on a curving road requires confidence and a gentle but firm hand on the wheel.  Sometimes we may welcome a third hand stretching out to help us get a feel for what that balance is like.  And sometimes, that third hand may be ours, stretching out to another wheel to lend our confidence and trust in a fellow pilgrim’s capacity to learn to hold in tension what is necessary to keep following the curve all the way through.

As we continue our journey in this season of Advent, consider the curves in the path laid out for you.  What are you being invited to hold in tension as you gently correct your wheel?  How are you being invited to support and trust your fellow pilgrims as you grow into your capacity with confidence together?