I am driving purposefully, signalling my intentions to cars around me, moving forwards towards...
Hold on...where am I going?
I am going entirely the wrong way!
The trouble was the beginning of the journey was part of a familiar route and I’d gone into automatic pilot. I didn’t need to think about where to turn and why. So when I should have turned left I carried straight on – good for the journey I’d made many times in the past but not at all related to where I had to get to today.
There comes a time to wake from sleep and consciously think about where we are going. If I carry on this way will I come to a place I really want to get to, or am I simply going with the draw of the familiar. Which way is my life facing and what will happen if I carry on moving this way? There is a sense for many of us that we fall into a path others determine for us – be that to do with job, lifestyle or the roles we play; and there is often much that is good and true and necessary about this. But is this our all?
Often the invitation to review the course of our life comes through a sense of dissatisfaction or unease. It’s as if we are question marks, seeking someone to understand us and so for the first time to understand ourselves. Or perhaps we are puzzle pieces, strangely shaped, searching for a place of belonging, trying this way and that way in the absence of a pattern; but all the time haunted by the sense there is a pattern, we do belong, there is logic to who we are. We might be good at squashing such feelings and getting on with the work in hand. But what if that feeling returns? What if – below the surface of our immediate engagement with people, our work and the practicalities of daily life – that feeling is always there?
The 16th century Spanish mystic, John of the Cross, wrote of how there is an alternative gravity that draws us deep within our hearts. This gravity, he believed, draws us into the truth of our being; it is the cry of our spirit. This gravity is also a homing device that leads us to our place of deepest belonging in the love of God
The soul feels that she is rushing toward God
as rapidly as a falling stone when nearing its centre...
She knows, too, that she is like a sketch or the first draft of a drawing
and calls out to the one who did this sketch to finish the painting and image.
[The Spiritual Canticle, chapter 13]
The drawing power of this gravity might begin with a sense of restlessness, with the realisation of how driven we have been, and how lost we are. But where it moves us to– if we respond to its pull – is towards our integration and freedom. A change of direction begins by stopping: giving ourselves time to pay attention to what is going on within. Then comes not arriving, but turning: facing the way our spirit seems to pull us towards. It takes daring to do so. Then come the first movement along a new road; we don’t know the detail of where it will lead us; we will never know unless we begin.
There will be moments of wavering. We are used to driving along a route that is familiar and known. At a time of my own wavering a wise man asked me ‘What do you want?’ I recognised the depth of the question. The answer lay not in the immediate satisfaction of being on safe ground. He was inviting me to pay attention to what was in my heart. I sensed in my own unease the draw of another, inward gravity and there - I understood - lay hope.
Where are you going? Do you really want to continue in this way? Or is there another gravity that draws you? This journey moves by desire and direction, not by the certainty of achievement or arrival.
Where are you going?’