Detour Reflections

Listen to everything.
Because everything in life is important.
Listen with the heart:
with feeling for the other,
with feeling for the Word,
with feeling for the God
who feels for us.
Joan Chittister, The Monastery of the Heart, 9-10

Think, dear [one], of the world you carry within you…
What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 46-47

Ripening into Rightness

It’s evening, and I’m tired. But, as so often happens, the day doesn’t quite feel complete until I pull on my running shoes and move out into the world one more time. I have lived here for three years ago, and it is this sacred practice of running that has always connected me to this place, to all the places I have kept.

The air is misty; clouds drift between trees and houses like wandering spirits. Back lit by the setting Western sun, the sky is magnificent, perfect. As I pass, neighborhood cats eye me warily. They do not vacate the sidewalk at my approach but seem to occupy it all the more firmly. The sound of laughter and chatter from backyard get-togethers drifts past, and I realize how deeply I long for community and togetherness, how lonely and unsatisfied I have been. These have been three years of trial, of transformation.

Still, my time here has seemed important. It feels as though I’ve been gathering the pieces of my identity toward my core, like cabbage collapsing in on itself to form a head. The cabbage isn’t ready for harvest until it has time to pull itself inward, to center itself tightly, to ripen into rightness.

Detours and Pools of Light

Over the next few weeks, I will be pushing through to complete my Americorps term of service. This year has been an unexpected detour in my life – a detour into public school work, a detour into full-time volunteerism, a detour into the lives of inner-city children.

Coming to the other end, I feel a sense of solidity and completeness. Perhaps this period of my life has indeed ripened into rightness. Who can tell how the detour changes our experience of particular journeys, or whether we can even call the path we end up taking a ‘detour’ at all? Once we have stepped onto it, the path we take becomes the way we go. There is no other way.

I think often of the story Anne Lamott recounts of her pastor Veronica’s description of how God directs our lives by revealing one pool of light in front of us at a time into which we can step. We wait, marooned in that tiny pool of light, until the next step is illuminated for us. (Traveling Mercies, 84)

I know well the fear that another pool of light may not appear, and the relief and gratitude when it does.

For tonight, I am cherishing each step. I am allowing myself space to reflect, and I am honoring that precious world within me with my whole love.

And I am waiting for the next pool of light.

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