Wandering, Meandering, and Yet…

Photo by Nitish Meena on Unsplash

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.” Thomas Merton

Ever have one of those days—or weeks or month or years—where you just can’t seem to get where you think you want to go? Instead, you wander and meander and backtrack and….finally end up exhausted and frustrated. Maybe you even choose to quit. Yet, later on, you come to see that this was the best route to get where you really wanted to go, even if way back in the beginning you didn’t know you wanted to go there.

When I look back over my life, never in a million years could I have predicted I would come to this good place where I am now. Married to the love of my life after being divorced for more than twenty years. Leaving corporate life in 1993 to be a freelance writer (and actually succeeding at that for about two decades!). Then in my late 50s finding my calling in becoming a certified journal facilitator, originally inspired by the experience of caring for my husband after his brain injury. Who woulda thunk? Not me.

Life is like that, as you already know. The weirdest, seemingly most inconvenient, painful, or unexpected experience can send us down a whole new path, which can lead to places we never imagined. I’m grateful for everything that has brought me to this point, maybe even more for the painful than the pleasant ones because they taught me more.

These past few months have been particularly vexing. I spent most of 2017 working to get a new journaling program off the ground, one I loved and was excited about. For whatever reason, it didn’t work, and finally, I had to grieve it and let it go. Then, I wasn’t sure what my new focus might be. Like the river in the photo above, I felt like I was wandering aimlessly in a bleak landscape.

Fortunately, I have been through this kind of situation before and trusted that somehow the answer would reveal itself. I journaled and pondered, contemplated and journaled some more. Talked with wise friends, who were very patient with me.

And slowly the answer appeared. I now have a new focus for my journaling work that makes me happy and enthusiastic once again. I’m not ready to reveal it yet but will soon. (Don’t you love suspense?)

The Thomas Merton quote above has long been one of my favorites. I can go for long stretches and forget its wisdom. But every time I come back to it, it restores me and encourages me to embrace my wandering, knowing that I will eventually come home.

For your journal:

Write about a time when you believed you were headed to a certain destination, only to be (apparently) thrown off course by Life, but you later discovered it offered you a whole new landscape to explore. What were the circumstances? What did they mean to you? How did your life change as a result?

What is a quotation that inspires or energizes you in some way? Copy it into your journal and describe how it makes you feel, why it resonates with you, times it has helped you. (I have a tiny journal into which I only copy short quotations that are meaningful to me. It is a valuable resource when I need to be uplifted or inspired.)

Find a photo that symbolizes the way you feel. What metaphor does it evoke in you? What emotion does it produce? Why is it such a good symbol at that moment? Write about it with as much sensory detail as you can, even wax poetic if you like.

Mysterious Messages and Meanings

Movement outside my large home-office window caught my eye: a gorgeous hawk (a Cooper’s, perhaps) had flown in to sit on the utility line directly in my line of sight. With its back to me, tail occasionally flicking for balance, it sat for several minutes, regally surveying its environment. I watched it with awe and gratitude. Then it lifted up and flew to another nearby spot on the line, where it rested again. Finally, as I craned my neck to watch, it spread its powerful wings and flew off out of sight.

I had seen hawks in our neighborhood but never before had one come so close or stayed so long. As a believer in synchronicities and messages from the Universe, I immediately pulled out my Medicine Cards book to investigate what Hawk’s message might be. When it flew in, I was writing my previous blog post, Brains and Change, and feeling a stir of excitement and enthusiasm again after a time of feeling scattered and unsure about some aspects of my work. Hawk’s appearance at that moment felt significant and validating.

The book explained that Hawk is a messenger that teaches me to be observant and watch my surroundings, even for the obvious, because “life is sending you signals.” The magic of life was coming to me, it said, which could “imbue (me) with the power to overcome a currently stressful or difficult situation.” Pay attention! says Hawk, for I am “only as powerful as (my) capacity to perceive, receive, and use (my) abilities.” Hawk medicine is “a totem that is filled with responsibility, because Hawk people see the overall view….Hawk medicine people are aware of omens, messages from the spirit…” therefore I should “be aware of the signals in (my) life—so notice and receive them.”

Since that day, several strong intuitions have come to me—messages I could not ignore. The first was a message so clear it was as if someone had spoken it directly into my ear. It told me to take my cell phone downstairs with me when I went to work out—something I never do. But I did as ordered and within minutes, a call arrived from someone I dearly love who was in the midst of a crisis.

Another message was even more crucial. My mother was in hospice, and my husband and I were going to leave on Tuesday morning to see her. But then I knew that we had to go on Monday. We were able to see her one last time that afternoon; Mom died the next morning before we normally would have left for the six-hour trip.

We returned home on Wednesday, and the next morning I had a brief but distinct dream in which Mom and I were talking on a phone, and in a faint but clear voice, she told me she was okay and not to worry, creating a feeling of deep peace within me. Her voice faded, and then as I looked up, there sat a magnificent brown- and black-feathered hawk, looking right into my eyes.

As I write about these intuitive events, and others, in my journal, I continue to discover more information and am amazed by what I can learn if only I pay attention.

What signs or synchronicities have come to you? What meanings have you given to them? How do you allow them to play out in your Living, Breathing Story?