By Sr. Doreen, SSJD.
Sister Doreen’s Reflections
“Life At The Crossroads”
Honouring the Heart’s Desire – how can we live in the tension of our many questions, but in fidelity to the core of our being?
“Thus says the Lord; Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls …” Jer. 6:16
How many times do we stand at crossroads? How many times do we look and ask for the ancient paths, and begin to walk… only to discover once again, a crossroads – something more, a bit more that is asked of us? Always at the crossroads, we are faced with questions: where do I want to go? What are my deepest desires? What is it I want and why do I want it? How can I live with authenticity? What is the good way? How do I walk in it and find rest? How can I honour my heart’s desire? How can I live in the tension of my many questions but in fidelity to the core of my being?
I find myself asking questions like these. In fact I often stand at crossroads, with questions ………. questions that are often without answers, and with questions that don’t need answers but just remain ongoing questions.
I have often pondered psalm 1 – it holds out to us two paths on our life’s journey: two paths that I know are inside my own heart and soul. And it is these two paths that seem to whisper … to offer counsel to the direction of my life: a cross-roads time. One way is the worldly- wise way and the other way is the right-relationship way – two forms of knowing.
“Blessed, O blessed, I say are those who walk upon a path
Whose steps are firmly planted on your eternal law,
For in that word they find their joy, their meditation day and night,
And do not wander far to take the counsels of the worldly wise. …” (Ancient Songs Sung Anew: Bauman)
Two paths. Crossroads! Places of question marks! Questions! Questions without answers often pour from my heart and soul to God’s ears. My prayers often rise in a confused blur. But God is often silent. It seems God stays silent forever, and yet as I continue faithfully to wait, as I continue to try to live a life that finds harmony and balance, goodness and peace in right-relationship to everything that is: God, myself, those around me, the earth and all creation, bit by bit, I begin to hear God’s voice.
The silence and waiting let earthly wisdom melt away. In the midst of chaos comes a peace that seems so out of place – a peace experienced by faithfully showing up in silence and waiting in God’s presence, trusting God was there and listening for God’s call. Somehow deep down it echos “this is right”!
And in the silence, and in the waiting, God’s call – my longing – persists. God’s quietness over-whelms. It is a challenging, refining, waiting, stillness that presses in upon me, and I find I cannot refuse the longing and the waiting. While the world around me calls for action, motion, and anger, God seems to whisper a thundering “Wait!”. So I wait.
I know I need to stop and wait before the crossroads of my life – the little decisions and the big decisions, the everyday circumstances and the extraordinary circumstances, the joy and the pain, the losses, the changes, the disappointments, and the satisfaction.
When Peter and John ran to the tomb on Easter morning, and John outran Peter and reached the tomb first … he stopped and scripture says, he looked and he believed. We all come with a deep longing, an inner yearning to come and see. Like John we run towards the unknown, the crossroads – like John, do we – are we willing – to stand still, to gaze and to ponder, to enter into the mystery of life, the unknown and in this begin to be open to understanding.
Wait, wait, wait! At the crossroads of my life, am I willing to wait? To give up control? Can I allow a spaciousness where truth, healing, and authenticity can breathe? Wait, wait, wait, pondering like John. Do my own limited versions of reality imprison possibility? Can I stand still without judgement, with compassionate attention?
Crossroads: it is such a hard task to wait and to gaze without grasping until we feel drawn to begin to step forward. It is the hard work of staying with an inner wisdom, of being open to saying yes to the realm of all possibilities. It is the hard work of letting go of control, of my search for an answer (usually my own thank you), of certainty, of security (of my own defining thank you) of my place, my time, my space! Wait, wait, wait – O God you are my God, I eagerly seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Ps. 63:1).
We need to honour our capacity for interiority: we need to honour the paradoxes of life and not just try to resolve them, we are called to the contemplative gaze, where we can hold things gently in our hands until they become friends. We need the wisdom of stop, of wait, of silence.
“Thus says the Lord; Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies, and walk in it, and find rest for your souls…” Jer. 6:16.