When I'd met with a potential Artsy Fartsy board member at the end of the year, he'd wondered out loud why I was taking January off. "This is when you should be planning," he mentioned supportively. Well, yes, that was what I intended. Taking time off from the everyday busyness to look at the BIG picture and spend reflective, prayerful time seeking God's direction. He – the man, not God – suggested developing a business plan and accompanying financials. Did I mention I also had two grants due?
When I thought I'd take off the month, I had not envisioned writing a deep and truthful letter to the city planning commission about the proposed re-zoning for Milford Main. That took effort and energy, but I felt as if God was pleased. Nor the workmen who kept entering my studio, then knocking out walls searching for asbestos. They threatened the safety and security of my space. I don't know how easily that can be restored.
Least of all, I had not expected the call for a job interview as a PR/media strategist. I thought, what the heck, why not? The call came Monday and they wanted me Wednesday. I had planned no work for Tuesday, my birthday. Fortunately, my resume was together, but work samples were not. Yet, I also tempered my efforts with the thought that this was just a conversation.
Indeed, it was a good one. Maybe too good. I loved the synergy of the workplace, the type of work this organization does and the complexity of the job. I could easily imagine working under this boss and in this small group within the larger body. I felt like we clicked. That is, if I actually wanted the job. Do I want it or want to be wanted?
I'd prayed to God earlier to make this easy. She complied, though I am not sure she heard the rest of my pleas: "Make the path clear." EXCEPT ...
Tuesday, I'd raced through my morning swim, attempting to get done in time to take my daughter to school. All night long I struggled with shoulder-blade pain ... and into the next day. Because I had the interview, I stretched the shoulder, applied an Amish-cream remedy, then popped Ibuprofen. It was enough to get me through the interview. Wednesday evening it began to really bother me and there was no way to get comfortable in bed.
Thursday's saving grace was a previously scheduled massage. As I struggled with the pain (interesting how one single spot can affect so much of your body and movement), I began to wonder if this was God being clear: you can't handle a full-time job right now.
During the interview, I certainly felt that I could. In the aftermath, I reconsidered. My massage therapist/shaman/pastoral counselor sent me from his table to the chiropractor with a dis-aligned rib. Ouch. Aggressive swimming. During our talk (we do that, then get into the body work), he suggested that I had plenty of clarity. "You seem to understand and see the whole picture," he said. "What you need is guidance." That stopped me. He was right; I had plenty of clarity – perhaps too much.
I don't believe God causes pain for any reason, including in order for us to shift direction. I am aware of some of its causes in my case, but it sure seems to get in the way. Mostly the way of living a regular, normal life.
Why do I seem to covet that at times? Because it seems easier going with the flow. Swimming upstream is hard work (ask my ribs). A story I just read and I movie I treated myself to resonated deeply with me about being who you are.
The story of the Fourth Wiseman was all about his journey to find the baby Jesus based on the Truth he got from a particular star. He missed the opportunity to meet with with the other three when he stopped to nurse a sick Jew along the way. He kept stumbling into needy people all through his travels, finally giving away the last treasure he had carried for when he met Jesus. The Wiseman arrived in Jerusalem just as the earth was quaking and Jesus was dying. He tumbled and hit his head, dying in the arms of a woman he'd rescued from slavery with a precious pearl. The woman overheard a conversation between the man and a strangely sweet voice. The man was saying how he had looked and looked for Jesus, only to just miss him. The voice replied he had seen Jesus in every face of every person he had helped.
Though VERY different, the story of genius mathematician Alan Turing is also of one committed to another path. Turing's honesty brought him undue suffering for being truthful about who he was (a homosexual living in England when it was against the law) to the point of ending his own life. While alive, he would never know what he began: the fields of computer science and morphogenesis, mathematically revealing how cells differentiate to form shape and attributes such as stripes or spots.
Right now, I see several paths personally. Spirit, please help me chose the one that brings me closest to you.
• What measure do I take to step back from life and seek God's input?
• When do I take a respite?
• What spiritual practices support that?
• What daily spiritual practices help me take the longer view?
• Where am I on my path right now?
through the haze of
hard to see
what lays ahead
to step back
and see things
Listen to this post: