Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD…He who does these things will never be shaken.
Psalm 15: 1-5 NIV
‘I’m outside‘ I texted to my neighbor while standing on the front porch of her house.
I slid the phone back inside my front coat pocket. I could almost see a mirage of a former self sauntering in front of me, back and forth, in the cold and in the heat, underneath starry expanses and fighting against bitter winds. Most of all, I remembered one night in particular when someone was actually walking with me on that path. It was all calm now…and several minutes had gone by. I was just leaving, concluding that she had probably fallen back to sleep since I had last texted her, and then I finally received her message that the door had been open all along.
She lay in her bed and I on the floor as we talked. I asked about her recent experiences in the church. She asked me about my current jobs. I told her about my experience in a discipleship program two summers in a row. She asked about that a particular person who had been walking with me on one of those many starry nights. I had almost forgotten about that up until she asked.
She looked at me from the comfort of her covers. She had a clear expression on her face unlike what I have ever seen before. At one point, after hearing me express my struggles and lingering hurts, she whispered softly, “Forgive them…try to forgive them.”
I looked up at her from the floor of her bedroom, knowing that she was right, appreciating her speaking from a place of knowing pain and deep spiritual sensitivity and similar struggle within her own life. I resonated with her words. She resonated with my…conflict.
I had credited Jesus for being one of the most mystical, spiritually sensitive beings to have ever walked this earth to which she ecstatically agreed. Subtle memories seeped into the room in between our short pauses and the moments when I looked about at the posters on her walls. In flooded the silent spiritual dialogues I had engaged in from the solace of my bedroom and other personal spaces. I remembered the beatitudes. I remembered Him saying that peacemakers were and would be blessed. I began to remember some of the good that I do have to cling to, and that I just might have some more good things in store and on their way.
“You all are good leaders,” I told some peers of mine in an earlier conversation after we had finished up a business debrief. They admitted that it was actually a very timely statement and elaborated about their collaborative struggles. It came sort of a surprise to me. I added that sometimes I overlook the fact that others–and even I myself–have some sort of pain. This baggage weighs down on even the most accomplished individual; and that is certainly the case with my current predicament in a time when I wonder how I will move forward courageously irregardless of such a distracting thing as a fragile mind.
I shifted from side, feeling physically weighted down and uncomfortable, trying to support my back while listening to her, observing the waves of undulating emotions and physical signals from my body. The mental picture that I had while I was outside once again entered my awareness. I, walking the distances back and forth from in front of her house, much more peaceful, sweating and in harmony with nature, outside all the time, breathing…I had somehow let that slip through my fingers in the past few years.
Remembering conflict in and around me returned me to the long held vision for my own life. I was not always so dissatisfied with the state of things although I was aware even back then of my various issues. Like I have told many before, I have much to work on and I have all the more that I want to regain. Most of all, I want my peace back.
“The desire for spiritual peace is in every single soul.”
Fulton J. Sheen
When she had walked me to the door, she gave me a firm, loving and reassuring hug.
“I’m not letting go just yet!” she bubbled.
I laughed a deep cleansing laugh in the embrace of her voluptuous hoodie and her thick hair sweeping around my face. Glints of the even brighter now streetlights sparkled in the corner of my eye as we stood in the doorway on the other side of where I stood just hours before.
“You are a strong woman, just know that,” she added.
I left shortly therein, trudging down a familiar the path of my observation, feeling lighter, following the strand of a new found energy down the same way that I had came.
Louise Diamond’s The Peace Book: 108 Ways to Create a More Peaceful World outlines 8 different archetypal paths to peace:
The Activist Path, whose mission is to seek justice
The Personal Path, whose mission is to seek integrity
The Relationship Path, whose mission is to seek love
The Global Path, whose mission is to seek community
The Educational Path, whose mission is to seek wisdom
The Creative Path, whose mission is to seek harmony
The Leadership Path, whose mission is to seek transformation
The Spiritual Path, whose mission is to seek unity
The leader is not always on the up and up. The leader from time to time may know one dark night of the soul or two. It may go without saying that the leader is going to have some conflict resolution to do once in a while. Moreover, the leader is not just confined to the leadership path or the mere aspect of transformation within and around them. I theorize that many a path is interwoven with its counterparts.
We have been walking together for quite some time now, haven’t we? I should add to my list of blessings that I have found so many profound connections among my various talents, weaknesses, strengths, desires and dreams, all of which compose my path where I, subsequently, have found that many footsteps have touched and intersected.
So, what path are you on?