The Future…and the Past

I have noted in difficult and uncertain present moments that the need for a little reflection backwards goes a long way. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with decisions and directions — the “fork in the road” type that are part of life’s journey. Which way? I don’t know.

When I stop long enough to look back over my life, I can see clearly how God has led me along — sometimes even into hard seasons so necessary. Trying not to be simplistic or over-spiritual about life, I believe my journey and yours too to be sacred — filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit as it unfolds and sometimes changes directions.

My dear friend and colleague Judi Geake is helping me once again to rest in this, and find comfort when the present living moment seems up in the air. Yesterday at our staff gathering she read this poem, from John O’Donohue, that seems to capture both the anticipatory excitement and exhaustive unknown about new chapters of life:

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space between Us

Then, this morning while searching for a book in the church library, a poster-board sign leaning against her desk, likely brought by by someone and left says this:

“I trust the next chapter because I know the author.”

here’s much about life’s journey and direction that’s always up for grabs. Growing older I realize how much I keep waiting for that to change, instead of embracing the journey as it is in all its mysteries. What helps me in this is faith in the One who bears all good gifts, and whose will is always for good, and who is present and active in my journey, sometimes pushing, sometimes pulling me along. I’ll admit I am one of those crazy enough to believe such a thing and who finds a settled comfort in God’s presence and promises. In the end, it also beckons me forward as the poem says, “awakening your spirit to adventure”, and as the poster-board says, “because I know the author.”

That’s enough to face the unknowns and big decisions ahead with hope.

Question — Where do these thoughts settle in your own spirit and on our own journey in the season? How is God’s Spirit speaking to you?

Love From Here, and thanks to Judi!

Peter Hawkinson

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