I am back and thinking again. I don’t mean to say I don’t have thoughts when I travel, but the thoughts are traveling, too, so there is not the same kind of time to sit still with them. Perhaps that is one reason so many of us like our getaways — for that getaway from thoughts that are hard, confounding, irritating, or scary. But back home now, with time to read my bible, my daily meditations, and write in my journal, I find my thoughts are landing, and hard. Like planes being directed to circle above the airport due to crowding on the runway, my thoughts have been waiting for sometime to land.
I was reading about a meditation the other day that is supposed to aid in healing from one’s past. After considering who we might need to heal from, we are to envision that someone walking toward us, down a road, at their own pace. We are to ask that person, upon their arrival, if they are willing to heal with us. Now that might sound a bit woo-woo to some of you, but I seriously considered the premise. Who do I need to do that with? What relationships are lingering in my soul, as the Daily Om puts it, that are blocking my best life? I wrote down a list of possibilities, folks who I have experienced pain with, who have lied to me, mistreated me, blamed me, or cheated me. I mean, I’m 60 now, there’s a lot of water under that bridge!
Then I got to thinking — because I can now! — Are these feelings of pain and all memories? Are memories feelings? Just because I remember disappointments does that mean I’m still carrying them around like proverbial baggage? Or are they simply souvenirs of a life long-lived? Are we supposed to forget everything bad that has ever happened? How do we know the difference between forgiving and forgetting?
Well, I could keep all this interpersonal, but I want to zoom out (small-Z zoom) because I was joyfully back at Friendship Pasadena Church today. And church, if you let it, can really get you out of your head — which too often involves navel-gazing (you were right, Dad) — and into your heart, which has a much larger capacity for considering the whole. This has been my underlying goal for some time, considering humanity and not just me. Anyway, we started Praise and Worship with a song that included the words, “I surrender,” a pretty common suggestion when it comes to believing in a higher power. So, still thinking about that baggage question, I asked God to take any stuff from me that I might be carrying unnecessarily. I ask for something like that a lot, actually. As in, “just make me less extra.”
When it was sermon time, Pastor Nick Sherman lit up the scripture — along with some hearts and minds I’m pretty sure. He was reminding us, among many things, that there are certain items and/or people that need to be removed from our lives in order for God to do the things God has in store for us. Like when Judas had to leave the dinner party in order for Jesus to be “glorified.” As in a dark cloud was hanging around with old traitorous Judas in the room. Pastor Nick suggested that we check for any Judas’ we may have hanging around; even if we love them, they may still be in the way. Makes sense to me. Even those who might not believe in God understand that we humans often allow obstacles to block our ways. Fact is, we even build them ourselves sometimes!
I tried to think whether I was keeping any dark clouds around. That same list of names from before came to mind. And then that same question returned: are these just memories or are they truly baggage? Pastor Nick noted that we suffer issues in life sometimes just so God gets highlighted — as in look how I got through that storm, wow! But we could skip a few of those trials and tribulations if only we stayed more focused on God. And again, even if God is not (yet?) on your radar, you have probably looked back on your life and seen some ish that could have been avoided had you stayed true to you.
Oh, by the way, I don’t have a definitive answer to my question. (And they say age makes us wiser)! Have you been able to discern the difference, have you found a formula that helps you discern between the memories that you carry because you are a human being, and those things which are burdens that could be left by the side of the road if only you recognized them as such? The point of this “thought exercise” is to “‘Make straight the way for the Lord” (John 1:23). Thing is, I feel like that path in front of me is so sunny and bright and full of possibilities, uncrowded by brambles of strife and rocks of fear. That’s what I see when I look ahead. So maybe my memories have become reminders for me to stay on that path. I am wondering what the path ahead of you looks like right now. I’d love to know.
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One thought on “Uncluttering the Path”
Hmmmm, for me, traveling, especially alone, actually leaves me with more space to sit with my thoughts. Free of my work and my household and other everyday responsibilities, I find myself with much more time and inclination to really think things over–and over. That said, this post really spoke to my soul. Considering my life–and all the relationships that define it–has been a complicated and sometimes painful journey. Your words remind me that this really is part of the human condition, if you do it thoughtfully. I love your introspection and your eloquent questions. Thank you, once again, my friend for sharing your wonderful thinking and writing.