Following Our Sacred Path
There is something about a Sacred path which draws us into following it. We want to find out where it will lead us. No one really wants to get distracted, hopelessly lost in the bushes or stuck in the mud.
The path we want to follow is clear, well marked, and easy to follow. We are drawn to a path where there are clear signs, maybe even with its own website or app. We would love to be able to ask questions and get an understanding of how this path works.
Some of us follow a path which begins with strong boundaries. We come to rely on what we have seen and on what our path has already taught us.
We start to get confused when our path wants to change its own rules or head off in a new direction.
Maybe the lessons we think we have learned were not the ones our path had for us.
Lessons From the Familiar
It can be easy for us to assume the path we have chosen is the right one. It becomes familiar to us and we believe we become adept at following it. We grow more comfortable with our path and see ourselves as developing expertise about paths.
There is a sense of accomplishment for us in becoming expert at following our paths. We have been doing this for some time and have learned a thing or two about paths. Not everyone could do what we have done. We may see ourselves as leaders among those who follow paths.
We believe we have mastered the art of following our Sacred path when, in fact, we have taken the first steps. Pretending we are riding in la Tour de France, we are still depending on training wheels to stay upright.
We have just begun to scratch the surface.
Our Paths Are New Every Morning
We are beginners. Our first steps are the start of a Sacred adventure. Like the quests of great heroes and heroines, our paths create themselves before us each day. Each morning, each moment, is full of spectacular potential. Our Sacred paths do not become mundane or boring because we never get used to them.
We do not master our Sacred paths. They master us and teach us lessons beyond our understanding.
The light draws us forward. The path stretches beyond the signs and markings, beyond the boundaries and walls, beyond what we can see. Where will they lead us?
Each morning is filled with a new curriculum of lessons to learn, a new map of places to explore.
Walking Our Everyday Paths
I walk as much as I can each day. Southern California is not an easy place to be a pedestrian. People drive two or three blocks to the grocery store or to see a doctor. It can be a challenge to cross a street in a crosswalk with the walk light. Walkers need to pay attention, not be distracted, and follow their path.
Some days I walk in familiar places. My wife and I walk laps around a local library. We take walks to run regular errands. I walk whenever I can to meet people and talk about spiritual life. My path takes me places where the weather allows me to walk all year long.
Walking and Spiritual Life
We vary the pace of our walking to match the speed of our thoughts. When I am making connections and the pieces are fitting together in a flash I walk faster. As I reflect or ponder deep truths my walking tends to become more deliberate.
There have been times when, talking with someone about spiritual life, we walked together. Our verbal conversation fell away as we paid attention to our walking. Our eyes saw the clouds in the sky and the distant mountains. We heard the sounds of traffic in the street and overhead. The aroma of the coffee shops and the florist we passed caught our attention. We practiced a form of walking reflection, opening our awareness to the city around us.
The more we walk each day, the more of our path we notice and experience.
Our path opens before us, one step at a time. Spiritual life draws us forward, into its embrace.
Recognizing Our Sacred Path
It can be difficult for us to recognize the path which is drawing us toward it. Especially as markers and mileposts fall away and the training wheels come off, we may need help.
Many people find it helpful to talk with someone about the path on which they find themselves. They may gain practical advice from people who have explored similar paths. It may give them comfort and support just to talk to someone who will listen well.
We can put pressure on ourselves because we expect to know what we are doing. Our perception of our own expertise works against us.
Other people can help us listen to the lessons of our Sacred path.
We may also find people who help us see our paths more clearly. Our efforts to develop a complete understanding, to master our own path, may hold us back. Another voice can show us how our Sacred path is growing and turning, leading us in a new direction.
Our Sacred paths are not simple walking trails or even freeways. Is a path truly Sacred when it is fixed to the earth? Our paths demonstrate their Sacredness as they move us beyond walking, to begin flying.
Where will our Sacred paths take us today?
How will you recognize the path which is drawing you into it?
[Image by Kirt Edblom]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.