LAO TZU (570-490 BC)
As I walk these paths, I am reminded of how the seasons mirror our spiritual and physical journey. Spiritually winter symbolizes stillness, silence, and often the experience of "the dark night of the soul." Physically it reminds me of the reality of earthly death and slow movement. Spiritually spring symbolizes renewal, answered prayers after a dark time of waiting, and hope. Physically spring shows me the reproductive nature of the flowers, plants, animals, and all of life. This rebirth fills me with increasing energy and hope for the days ahead. Spiritually summer can feel like God is right by my side, even though He never left. Faith is brought forth again within me, allowing me to get into the flow of my spiritual side. Physically summer represents energy, productivity, and movement. Spiritually fall calls me once more toward introspection as the energy slows down toward stillness once again after the harvest of my spiritual pursuits have been brought forth. Physically fall reminds me that everything in this physical world has a birth and death cycle, which can often bring much emotional as well as physical pain. And then on to winter again, to experience the dark night of the soul . . . stillness . . . and silence within.
The path we journey on represents a physical as well as spiritual voyage. All of humanity is walking this path together . . . alone. I love this contradiction! Together/alone. Together/alone. We all have an individual identity that separates us from one another, a purpose we are meant to fulfill in life, an ancient message we are trying to remember. But always know that we are part of a whole . . . united. Yes, we take our earthly voyage in seeming isolation because no one really knows the workings of our minds and souls. But by remembering that we are part of One Source, it allows us to pay attention to the people around us and see that we all have the same goal: becoming reunited with the One Source.
Often I get so narrowly focused by only looking at my path. The way it winds and straightens, taking me through all four physical and spiritual seasons. I need to be aware of my surroundings and do a 360, looking for others who might have stumbled off the path, or who are falling behind, or who are too weak to go on. Those people are there. Heck! I'm often there! If I become aware, I will see that I'm not all alone on this path, though often it's easy to have tunnel vision and let my sense of momentum keep me from looking around at who might need some attention.
God is in all of the "off the path" details. Some of His most miraculous works are done "off the path," wouldn't you agree? "Off the path" might look like sitting up all night with a friend who is detoxing; or confronting a business partner about his white-collar crime, offering to love him through his repentance; or providing a safe place for a child who you know lives in danger, possibly putting yourself in harms way while finding a solution to the problem. "Off the path" is not often found in church. It's in the most unexpected places. So be an open channel to let the work of God be done through you. You will thank God when a divine encounter comes along, filling you with a peace and a knowing that that person was sent to do His work . . . to help you on your path. It's all part of the cycle, the circle. We will all need help; therefore we all must give help.
Remember: The goal is not to get to somewhere on our path. The goal is the path.
"Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart.
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars.
Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear.
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares."
Loreena McKennit "Dante's Prayer"<