Sister Doreen’s Reflections
In pondering my own spiritual journey, I have thought how often it was like following a road – a road to somewhere I knew not where. It was like hearing the words that drew me on into the unknown, words spoken by the poet Rumi:
“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you?”
This same spiritual challenge is found in scripture: “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
Some years ago while at a Clergy Conference in the Diocese of British Columbia, when GPS’s began to be popular in navigating finding places while driving a car, many of the younger clergy were demonstrating how they worked. My own interest and imagination were put to work! I began to think that beside the device in the car, I think we are all wired with a personal GPS! We are all hard wired with a GPS (God Positioning System) and I would like to share some reflections on using this GPS in the big story of our human journey on planet earth, in our origins and in our destiny and in every moment in between.
How do we navigate using our soul’s GPS? How do we meet God every day at every turn? We know both the terrifying experience of questions like: “If God isn’t confined to holy places, how will we know where to find God? Will we ever be able to find God at all?” And we also know the liberating experience of coming to know the real answer “If God gets loose, then God is potentially to be found everywhere.”
God is in all things, we say this so easily, do we really know what we mean? It’s the kind of thing we wish we could really believe, but often experience God as very elusive, and often struggle with the puzzling question “Where is God in all of this?”
Now using a GPS can be a scary thing. I was told that to use one all you have to do is just listen and then follow the directions! But thought I, that is really a hard thing to do anyway, to listen and follow directions. And so this thing that lights up with a flashing circle indicting exactly where I am, if I make the wrong turn, says ‘re-calculating’. If I miss my exit, says ‘turn around’, when I get to where I am going, says ‘you’ve reached your destination.” Are any of you who use a GPS able to say “it’s nice knowing a little computer knows exactly where I am no matter where I travel, even though I may be as lost as a silly goose!” Whew … that’s trust. That’s willing to let go of control. Using a GPS calls for skill on both sides: a skillful machine, and some hard spiritual practice on our part!
And then I began to ponder psalm 139 “God, you have searched me out and known me, you know my sitting down and my rising up, you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting places and are acquainted with all my ways.” And this gave me the reflections that perhaps might be helpful to share.
We are all hard wired with a GPS, a God positioning system…and we spend our life learning to use it. To realize our spiritual goals, our God given purpose and design, we must constantly seek God. Every day we need to be still and eliminate all the distractions and interferences in order to clearly hear His voice. We stay connected to God by spending time with God and God’s word and in prayer. Consider God’s Word as your “GPS”, God’s Positioning System. It will provide the feedback you need to keep you on track spiritually. God’s destination for us doesn’t change. With the ears of our hearts we can learn to listen and follow directions! If we get off course, God re-calculates in order to bring us back. If we miss our exit there are whispers that tells us to turn around and I thought, ‘isn’t it nice to know that even though we may not know where we are headed in each situation, God does?’ And one day, God will look each of us in the eye and we will know that we have reached our destination … we will see God face to face.
We all need to be reminded that God is in all the smaller but equally amazing stories of how our individual lives move on, step by step, and day by day; God is in the light and in the shadows of our experience, in what we rejoice in and in what we grieve over. God is both the dream we follow and the inspiration for our quest. God is in every choice we make, always urging us, prompting us, and coaxing us to choose life. When our lives fall apart, God is right there, waiting and longing to lead us beyond breakdown to breakthrough. God may take us on the scenic route, past spectacular views … as well as down bumpy back roads. It begs that we trust and that we let go of control.
We live in the paradox: God is in the everyday details of everything we are and do, feel and think , and yet God remains and will always remain utterly mysterious. And God calls forth a personal response from us, calls forth our deepest desire, not just to know God better, but to seek to love each other with the kind of love God reveals.
It is important that as we travel through all the experiences of our lives with our GPS, to remind ourselves that God is waiting to meet us in every possible direction, detour and circumstance. One important truth to hang on to in our spiritual journey on the road: it is not so much where we are going that is the priority, but how are we being, here and now, at this present moment. One of the most amazing things about a GPS is that where we are is marked…its either circles, lit up, a flashing blob on the radar screen of our GPS. We can always find ourselves…but we may not know where we are!
On the road to Emmaus, the two companions and the Stranger talked, discussing scripture, sharing prayer, and pondering presence to the living gospel around them, until seated around the table and breaking bread together they discovered where they were – in the presence of the God who loved them unconditionally.
Henri Nouwen said “Discipline is the human effort to create the space in which God can be generous and give us what we need.”
May wisdom guide your journey.
And may love accompany your every step.