The Path of Listening

Many Paths

It’s been quite a fall.  I moved in August, and due to work and scheduling I have already missed Spirit Play twice.  I have missed writing this reflection a few more times than twice.  And so I sit today wondering about the intersection of responsibility and grace.  We begin again.  And we begin again.  We begin again in love.  Last time I was practicing church with our children we got to hear the story of “Many Paths to the Mountain” and this year as I sat in the classroom I was really wondering about one line of that story.  The traveler taking the river path speaks about how beautiful and refreshing the river is and how all the travelers will wish they came on the river path before they reach the mountain.  Each of the paths were intentionally chosen by each traveler and I wonder if they maintained their commitment to that path or if in their learning or their exhaustion they ever secretly did wish to be on a more lush journey.  I wonder if the traveler on the river path ever wished to be on one of the other pathways finding the river in reality not to be quite what she thought.

This week I was away again and missed the telling of one of my favorite stories about Listening for God.  The story traces many ways we can listen for what is right and good, what sings a resonant “yes” in our hearts so we know “how to love, what to do, and who to be”.  Sometimes that is such a challenge for us.  We make our way through our lives making decisions and doing our best and sometimes are confronted with such moments of confusion or broken-heartedness that we wonder if there’s any way at all for us to tell what our answer is to those questions?

How do we love?  How do we love within the confines of our lives, our understanding or when our love seems so small or in conflict with another’s wellbeing?  How do we love without condition and with openness?  How do we love in practical ways that matter?  What do we do?  In some ways this is the question that gets the most attention in our world.  Our discomfort drives us to action, to the path that feels like it might yield tangible results that we can see, that can shift and move our world in a way that budges it a little toward wholeness.  For me, if I jump right to what to do and skip the first step of how to love, I often miss valuable insight and spend my energy in ways that keep me busy, but aren’t necessarily nourishing for me and the world.  Finally, the question of who to be, which is always the truth of who we are.  We are a gift to the world.  What is the doing and being that reflects our gifts?  What do we joyfully put out into the world as our contribution?  What do we offer that comes from our truth and that the world needs?

For me as I sit in the transition time of this fall and so much change, I find myself sitting in this path I have chosen contemplating.  What is the path that feels true for me now?  I listen deep in myself, to my teachers and the world to try to answer those questions.  How do I love…myself, you, all of us, the path itself?  In light of how love wants to come through, what do I do… in myself, in relationship, in the wholeness of this life?  Who do I want to be in my loving and my being?

There is a long path ahead, to the mountain, or just on the journey and I notice myself finding the way of love in taking a moment to pause, to know this place where I am, to see the truth of my responsibility and my grace in the context of all the shifting and changing.  To begin again in love.  I don’t know what to do yet.  Some of it seems clear and some of it does not.  I suppose that means I should be patient with the pause, to take a bit more time.  If I can do this, be faithful to this place I am, then who I am will shine forth with it’s gifts of love and action in just the right way for myself and the world to keep wandering down the most beautiful path for us.  Thank goodness there are intersecting paths on this journey, places of pause and discernment.  I sit here in our community listening.

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