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Silent Guide: The Soul's True North
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Walking in the woods one day Silence spoke to me.
As if guiding me along some unknown path in my mind.
What is that!? I demanded.
Images were flashing before my eyes.
I saw my past.
I was a child in my mother's arms.
Playing with my sister in the sandbox.
Throwing the ball with my dad in the backyard.
I saw a future.
I was playing a mandolin surrounded by friends near a fire.
I saw myself slowing down. Less on my calendar.
Climbing mountains in remote areas with my sweetheart.
My grandmother died and we grieved together in worship for the universe giving her to us, celebrating her beautiful life.
Seeing my mother, old and gray, I embraced her and we talked for hours and hours.
My son and I building things with our hands.
Walking on land that I had loved back to health.
And at the end of a long day, laughing at the dinner table with my wife and kids.
I loved these sweet visions.
And I hated them.
Silence then revealed its listening when it spoke to me in a language I understood.
"Blessed are these secrets you hold in your heart," it said. "These longings."
This is all great, I thought to myself, but I have goals. I have to make something of myself! I want more than this.
"No, you don’t," the still voice continued, "and while you may succeed for a time in feeding your mind endless distractions, your soul will lay awake and hungry, waiting for you to answer its call.
"Your mind would have you believe that your greatest desires are for more money. For recognition by your peers. But it has stolen those desires from the desires of those around you.
"Your soul, though, is like the hand of a Great Man dragging his child back home."
I felt something deep inside of me shift.
"Your willingness to listen, to acknowledge the pull, is the hardest step.
"And if you should but submit to the gentle tug of His direction, you will find a path that aligns not only with your heart's deepest yearnings, but also with Life's divine rhythm.
"Like a leaf dances to the tune of the wind, so too will your soul dance to the music of existence. Your present life, though it seems stable, is but a passing cloud. Beneath it lies the eternal sky of your true purpose."
Tears streamed down my face. The weight of years of self-denial, of burying these desires, pressed heavily upon me. But in that weight, there was also a release, a letting go.
"What must I do?" My voice trembled with a mix of fear and anticipation.
"Return," Silence said. "Return to those dreams, to the love of the land, to the embrace of your loved ones, to the laughter at the dinner table, to the fireside music. For in them, you will find the purpose of your being."
The woods around me seemed to come alive, every leaf, every twig echoing the truth of Silence's words. I knew then that my journey, though uncertain and full of challenges, would lead me to a place of authentic joy and fulfillment.
"Thank you," I whispered.
Silence simply nodded, and as I walked out of the woods, the world seemed infinitely more beautiful.
If I know anything about the soul, it's that it's shy. It rarely speaks over the loud voices of fear, worry or the weight of responsibilities. But every time I give it enough silence and stillness, it draws me closer and closer to mySelf. My truest dreams and desires.
And that silence and stillness, in the rugged wilderness, is the most potent medicine available on the Soul Searching Adventures I lead. If this speaks to you, I'd love to hear from you and have you on one of these trips.
My next trip is March 25-31 in Escalante, UT in Coyote Gulch.
Inspired by one of my favorite poems from one of my favorite Poets, the late John O’Donahue.
A few lines from For Longing
"...may you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
that disturbs you when you have settled for something safe...
may you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
may you know the urgency with which God longs for you."