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Friday, September 2, 2016

Charted Territory

Make the Path

We make the path by walking.”
Robert Bly

If you've spent any time in the woods, you know that there are paths cut through the trees that are visible to the eye. These paths are not man-made. They are animal paths. Deer, and other animals, create paths to their feeding grounds and watering holes. They walk these paths every day, and so the undergrowth gets tamped down and, eventually, the ground is bare. My own dogs, have a path across the back yard. Nothing grows there, and even though the yard is not big, and they can easily see their way back to the door, they go to the path and follow it in. That path was created by dogs who are no more; dogs we had twenty-five years ago, but today's dogs follow it just as though they had blazed it themselves.

Following a blazed trail is a secure means of travel. It has a known beginning and end. In state and national parks, the trails have signs along the way admonishing us to stay on them, to not track off into the unknown and get lost, and possibly eaten. The wise person adheres to such instructions. Walking a known path increases the probability that we will arrive safely at our destination.

Just as woodland paths are made by walking, spiritual paths are made by practice. Many of us say, “Oh, well, I've tried meditation; it doesn't work for me. I can't sit still and control my thoughts for that long.” So, maybe sitting meditation is not your thing. Maybe yoga would work better for you, or writing in a journal, or centering prayer, or reading and contemplation. There are many paths tramped by others that can provide a starting point. The important thing is to find the trail head, so to speak, and then be unwavering about walking that path. For me, it requires setting a time each day devoted specifically to that, and not allowing myself to veer off course.

Having a spiritual discipline makes the rest of life far more manageable. It takes us deeply into ourselves, and connects body/mind and soul together so that all our parts are available to us. “The door to the soul is unlocked; you do not need to please the doorkeeper, the door in front of you is yours, intended for you, and the doorkeeper obeys when spoken to.” (Robert Bly)

                                                            In the Spirit,


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