Does not wisdom call and does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand.
This image of crossroads – the temporary pause, the space, the choice point between one and another – brings with it questions for us to explore: which way do I go? Who should I listen to? How long can I sit here in the unknown?
The crossroads is a space of unknowing. It is a space of questions, of curiosities, of potential – between what is and what will be.
A few years ago, around the time when I moved here to Tacoma, a friend of mine invited me to a Saturday morning gathering of men. It wasn’t religious or connected to a faith or denomination – but it was deeply spiritual. Everyone who came was there as a practice. We would meditate or pray together in silence for 20 minutes and then spend over an hour responding to a question one of the guys had brought.
One morning, following our sit, this question was asked: What crossroads are you at in your life right now?
Maybe think about that for yourself for a second: what crossroads are you at in your life right now?
We’re always at a crossroads of some kind – relationships, dreams for ourselves – who do we want to be OR who did we want to be? Perhaps they are personal and relational or they might revolve around our professional lives or retirement. Or maybe our family member just told us something that completely shifted our experience of them and we arrive at a crossroads: what do I do now with this?
This question of the crossroads has really rattled around in me – it seems to strike to the core of so many of our stories and even many of our inner frustrations. How do we choose to be present and to examine our crossroad moments, rather than blowing through them and picking a direction as if on autopilot?
Most of my experiences of church and religion don’t teach how to stand at the crossroads and get comfortable in this liminal space. Instead, there is an abundance of certainty: “do this, not that,” “God shows us to do this…,” or the good old “well, the Bible says…”
Well, The Bible Says…
Our sacred story says that wisdom is at the crossroads – in the crossroads. Which is to say, wisdom is always right here, right now, available; it’s in the pauses and choice points between what is and what will be; it’s here that wisdom finds its home. It’s in the questions and curiosities and potential, rather than the certainties of life. Wisdom is in the midst of the muck.
We need more folks expanding their capacity to turn off autopilot, recognize and get comfortable with the crossroad moments, and sit in the liminal space so that we can model wisdom for others. A “wise Elder” is born when one’s capacity to sit in the Unknown blossoms into the modeling for others of kindness, generosity, and patience.
So this week, I invite you to do two things:
- Spend time examining your crossroad moments. It’s never too late to go back to them and to sit with them until you learn the lesson they have to offer.
- If you have young people in your life – or anybody, really – how can you hold a posture of openness, not needing to be in control, being curious and creative and kind?
How can you practice a posture that keeps you open for the wisdom available in the right here, right now – in the midst of the muck of life?
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