“…asking how to realize the true self is much like facing a large field covered with snow that has not yet been walked on and asking, ‘Where is the path?’ The answer is to walk across it and there will be a path. One cannot find out first how to realize the true self and then set out to reach the clearly visualized goal. Rather, one must walk on in faith and as one goes on, the goal appears – not before, nor within, nor beyond us, but it does appear… It appears not in a revelation of a fact but a transformation of our hearts, in which, without knowing how, God transforms us into himself and we begin to realize obscurely yet deeply that our lives are hidden with Christ in God.
James Finley in Merton’s Palace of Nowhere.
On the second day of the retreat, I took some time to go snowshoeing. This was a brand new experience for me. The snow lay before me, untouched, bright, glistening and smooth. A blank canvas formed in purity and inviting me to the begin my adventure. But which way was I to go? There were no markers, trails, or footsteps to follow, only the pristine surface reflecting the sun’s rays. As I began my walk I felt the free creativity of making my own path, as well as the anxiety of this freedom, “Am I going the right way.” After a short way into the adventure, I turned and looked at the path I had made in the snow. I felt compelled to snap a picture of the prints I had made – of the path I had created. (see above)
Later in the day, I spent time reflecting on my journey through ministry, tracing some of the footprints of my past experiences. After reading, reflecting and journaling, I was asked a series of honest and open questions about my life’s journey by fellow pastors. I couldn’t believe the depth of emotion, insight, and peace I felt, answering these questions. The questions weren’t leading, or directive. They weren’t asked to gain information or appease anyone else’s curiosity. They weren’t designed to lead me to any particular place or conclusion. These open and honest questions helped me to see the path I had created with my life and to listen to the unique voice of my own soul. Some events of my past hold a special weight of integrity that resonate with my soul. When I feel and hold these moments once again, they give insight and nourishment for the true-self that is deep within me.
At the end of the day, I opened a book on my iPad that I hadn’t opened in six months or more. I felt compelled to read a chapter I had yet to encounter and found the quote which began this blog (serendipity). It brought together the days events.
There is no clear cut path to finding your true-self. No one can give you the answer, the goal, the model, the secret, the path… you must walk on the pristine canvas of life that is laid before you. Listen to your soul, hear its words and the feel the weight of its integrity.