Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Discernment II: The Gifts of Sun, Water, and Warm Breezes

True, I had many tasks to do at home, but when isn't that true? The nudging inside my head was getting louder, more agitated, scratchier, itchier, and I knew this day without rain, this day of sunshine,was calling me to the water. I packed up pens and colored pencils, my journal and a couple books, including Natalie Goldberg's Thunder and Lightning, Cracking Open the Writer's Craft, and the big sheets of sketching paper where I had brainstormed options for my next writing steps, and a new composition book with these words on the cover, "Then swing your window open, the one with the fresh air and good eastern light and watch for wings, edges, new beginnings."  I headed to the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union Terrace on the shore of Lake Mendota, where I could choose the color of my table (green) and the color of my chair (orange). A place where I could sit among students and professors and alumni and enjoy bits and pieces of conversation, but be comfortably anonymous. A place of accompanied solitude. A place where I could pick up the strands of my discernment process.    
What drove me to create this "set-aside" time was the desire to uncover my purpose in my current life. To move closer to knowing what it is I want to do, am supposed to do. To examine the questions rolling around in my head and heart. To reflect on responses from friends and family. To clear the way for answers, direction, the next step.
I began by just sitting. Breathing and allowing myself to enjoy being in this favorite place. A light breeze created ripples on the lake. A hazy sky obstructed the view across the lake, encouraging me to focus on what brought me there. I started writing all the questions, the options, muddled in my head, including "Should I continue trying to write for publication or should I write only for private and personal use?" "If I decide to continue to try to write for publication/for the public what form will that take?" "Should I focus on doing spiritual direction?" And many more. I could hardly write fast enough, exploring these questions. I wrote without rereading, and the time was productive, but not in the way I expected.
I thought I had so much to uncover, so much more that needed to be revealed, a need to dig deeper, but what I discovered instead was that it is time to lighten up. I remembered the words on my easel, "Wait, The light will come," and there I was siting in brilliant light. Lightness seemed to be the key.  My normal MO is to create a plan with clear cut steps and timelines and deadlines and that works well for me--most of the time.  But right now I am willing to take a lighter, easier approach. I know I want to continue to write, but the product, the outcome, feels less important right now. I feel less driven, less rigid. I am willing to let go of the book I have been working on for a long time--for now at least. I am more willing to think about that book as the way I worked through issues of grief and loss and was also the path to writing in a focused way. And for that I am most grateful. Therefore, I don't have a major plan. I will let a plan or plans emerge. I will live lightly with my writing. That doesn't mean NOT do it, but to do it within the context of my whole life.
I left the Terrace feeling a sense of abundance and buoyancy and of being and having enough. If I let go, there is still enough, and maybe even more.

Here are some questions for you:
* What do you do to discern?
* How do you make decisions?
* What helps you clear the space?
* How do you know when you have the answer?
* How do you know the difference between AN answer and THE answer?
I would love to hear your discernment experiences.

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