"Where You lead
I will follow...
Anywhere, that you tell me to.
If you need,
you need me to be with you...
I will follow,
where You lead..."
It's midnight on a late August night in 1971. We're sailing Sunnies out to the island after a long shift at the Inn. Sally has her transistor radio in the small sailboat next to mine. Carole King's "Where You Lead," comes on, and all twelve of us...in six different boats scattered like stars on the moonlit surface of Lake Champlain...begin singing along.
We're awake, we're done with work, we don't have to report to the kitchen again until 4:30 the next morning. So we sail, and we sing.
We were happy. We were following our hearts to the small, isolated island where we would take a moonbath, and dance under the stars. We would talk about hopes and dreams, and boys and college. And we did just that, showing up for kitchen duty the next morning happier and more full of energy than ever. We'd been invigorated by our outing, not exhausted.
Fast forward to 2011....that's about 40 years later, in case you don't want to do the math. It's March, the girls (this time my twin 13 year old daughters, myself, and a few girlfriends of varying ages) are on a beach in Florida for Spring Break. We are eagerly awaiting the appearance of the supermoon (the phase of the moon in which it comes closest to the earth all year). Okay, so I am eagerly awaiting, they are skeptically indulging my excitement.
I want to experience this phenomenon with them. I am smitten with the pearly orb hanging low over the Gulf of Mexico, laying a path to somewhere magical and full of promise across the sea. I hope we can sit and talk about dreams and hopes and my stories of being girls one summer in Vermont. They run to the veranda, giggle and scream when someone pops out of the dark and scares someone else, and then say that it's "just a moon," and go back to their movie.
It's not Vermont, it's not 1971...for them. But for me, it calls up so many thoughts about my path from there to here, and from then to now.
If I look at any one leg of that journey, I might be sad, disappointed, elated, angry, confused, peaceful...
But, looking back at the last 40 years, as a singular journey, I can see how each short...or long...section of highway taken, each fork in the road, each intersection I've paused in, has been exactly where I needed to be, with exactly the traveling companions I've needed to be with, every step of the way.
I've never thought I was following someone, or something, other than the voice of love. Really...
Even when I made decisions that I thought, at the time, were fear-based, I can see now that they were my highest sense of following the path of love at the time. As my sense of love has evolved, becoming more and more aligned with an understanding of its source -- the Love that is God, the higher motive, for each step of my journey, has become clearer to me. I needed to grow in my understanding of Love. But I don't know that the journey would have been any different. If it had been, I wouldn't be the me that I am today.
To believe that my journey could have/should have been different, I would have to believe that I am a co-creator with God. That God created me, but that my choices could override His omnipotence, and therefore, I could re-create myself (based on good or bad journey choices) in a way that is not according to His design. This seems to undermine my sense of God as all-powerful, good.
For me, this means that I am exactly who God wants me to be today. My path is, and always has been, under His divine guidance. I could never have taken the tiller away from Him and charted my own course full of what...to my limited sense of things...look like mistakes, bad decisions, choices, or wrong turns.
During this journey, I may have misunderstood "why" I thought I was taking the turn in the road that I chose to take, but it never changed my course or my journey. It only gave me reason to believe that I played a role in charting my course, that I was an ill-equipped and accident-prone mortal who had control of the steering wheel...could sin and suffer...and that because of this, I could easily make navigational errors. It was this misunderstanding that steeped me in the kind of "what if" thinking that led to a suffering "sense"...view of, or feeling about...any given situation.
Rather than see each situation as a mistake, a tragedy, the result of sin (any separation from God), I can experience that same moment as an opportunity to grow in grace. Grace, expressed in patience (with myself or others), meekness (refusing the inclination to be angry or resentful), love (to deepen my compassion, understanding, affections) and good deeds (asking myself, not, "why did this happen," but, "what can I do to help.") .
When I am so focused on my own growth in grace, the less I look around measuring, comparing, judging the actions or choices of others. When our experiences intersect, it is only as an opportunity for me to be my best self.
The more I have discovered that my motive in life is not outcome-based: to get love, or be humanly perfect, or have things, but reflection-based: to love like God, to deepen my patience, hone my compassion, surrender self, and embrace a more universal sense of well-being, the more that the whole journey makes sense...and so do all those twists and turns that led me here.
So, as I discovered by following my daughters' directions (as they listened to the GPS on our trip), I don't need to know the name (or number) of the exact route I will be taking in 45 miles or 37 minutes, I just need to trust that when I get there, and make that turn, the divine GPS will tell me where to go next. The me of the past loved maps...I could look ahead. It's time to embrace "not knowing" with spiritual enthusiasm. Bring on the GPS!
The journey only seems tangential and random....it's not. One of my favorite quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien reads:
"Not all who wander are lost."
I don't think any of us are lost...to an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God who loves us, and never lets us stray.
Kate Robertson, CS