How to move forward? When I make my way by stepping on the stones God sets before me, which are the sturdy ones? Which are set by the Adversary, and will drop me without a trace (like the puzzles in The Last Campfire)?
One of the ways is to step through whatever door opens in front of you. This has been my usual way: “You see this job posting? Apply for it.” “I’m glad you met me for lunch; I’d like to talk to you about our wonderful company.” “I was talking with your friend yesterday — she thought you might be interested in our communications job?” “We’ve had someone leave at the worst time. We were wondering if you’d be willing to step into her role-?”
I hear a way is to survey the landscape, observe what is present, sight a likely destination… and tack there, to use a sailing word for ground-based movement. A direct line is rare regardless of method, and the wisest take that into consideration. Still, I don’t have much experience with this way. And the little experience I have with this method hasn’t, ummm, been effective for me.
So it seems as if the straightforward step — the step “on offer” — the easy step — would be the one to take.
Over the spring and summer, the walking on my known-path has gotten difficult. Molasses-caliber difficult. The path that I am pretty sure I’m still to be taking (it’s the one that — from the reflection on other’s faces — starts me radiating when I speak of it) is, in whatever steps I can see to take, blocked or dispersed or… well… trackless. Like a time I took a trail above the MO-Ranch labyrinth in West Texas,
only to find I was walking eroded rocks and scree. No real trail. And a very real risk of getting lost.
In a dry climate, getting lost has briskly apparent teeth.
What does it mean when the path I am affirmed in taking — seriously! It’s not just me! — currently requires stubborn effort to make no progress? In the face of a culture of ease and next-day delivery, living what we understand to be a counter-cultural life, wouldn’t stubborn effort be the signifier for the way to take?
Still, this path has never been this kind of difficult before. It’s been serendipity and unfolding, walking through woods and discovering trillium blooms, not a question of husbanding each mouthful of water.
Last week a door — for me, an extremely random door — opened. As in: flung open while I was walking from one subway platform to the next: you mean there’s a door there? And it goes where?
That’s not where I’m going. If I’m going to get to the ferry, I need to take the Red line. So: Yellow to 49th, and transfer.
Why would I take the 7 toward Hudson Yards?
I’m reading Belden Lane’s Solace of Fierce Landscapes. On p192, he cites a story from one of our Desert Parents:
When an angel of light appeared to one of the brothers, saying, “I am Gabriel and I’ve been sent to you [above all the other monks],” the brother knew immediately it was the devil. He replied with artless candor, “I’m sorry. There must be some mistake. Gabriel would never appear to the likes of me.”
One of the doors I walked through in the past might have been that. It had come on so unexpectedly, and it echoed something I’d voiced once before — from my lips to God’s ears? but no, really — and everything fit together so neatly! And still it burned me whole. Shoved me to my knees asking God, “Why? What do you want here? When can I stop?” Then it quit even more suddenly than it began. Shamed, relieved, bewildered, I stumbled away. Even my hindsight doesn’t offer many options: I review what I now know, and watch the branches of possibility, and I can’t tell but what this was the better path.
Was it the voice of the pretend Gabriel, and I answered out of my ego? (Do not mistake, my ego got very involved!) Or was it a court-appointment-turned-prophet moment, standing like Jeremiah in stubborn love?
How, after that burning, can I know whether the easy way is a distraction and the current non-way — cooked spaghetti is easier to push — is where I should go? Particularly since, offhand, I don’t want to take the easy way?
The easy way does not preclude the current way.
The most problematic factor is time: time in the one pushes out the timing of the other.
And oh yes, there’s a third option: stay home and wait.