The roundabout way! We tend to prefer the most direct route, unless we are on enjoying a balmy spring day on a winding country road. Most of the time, we are on a schedule and, as we all know, schedules do not allow for roundabout ways. Yet that seems to be where life often leads us, especially when in need of letting go. It is a hidden gift, waiting to be received.
Whether we like it or not, the wilderness is a place where life is stripped down to its essentials. Values passed down for generations may be recognized as contributing to racism and the destruction of planet. Beliefs about personal lifestyle and professional aspirations, may be discovered as the expectations of others, not one’s true self. The wilderness is where we come to accept the necessity of endings that we might be readied for new beginnings, not of our own making, but of connecting soul with Source.
Another term for wilderness is “liminal space.”
As Ruth Haley Barton writes:
Liminal space, the place of waiting, is a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be… It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run… anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.
We are in a wilderness time: as nations… as a world… as people and planet! Be it the political arena, the world of finance, or the future of the planet as we have known it, uncertainty abounds. The tenuousness of it all has led many to look for a quick fix, seeking certainty in any false god that will promise a way out of the desert—even if it means returning to bondage. But as anyone who has read the times knows, there is no going back. There is only going forward, even if in a “roundabout way.”
Much as we hate in-between times, they are crucial to our unlearning the ways that have enslaved us. It is the only way to live forward into a way of being that honors the flourishing of people and planet. William Bridges in his classic, Managing Transition, talks about the difference between change and transition. Change is situational: a baby is born, a beloved family member dies, a friend loses their job, and a colleague gets married. Transition, by contrast, is a process by which people come to terms with change.
Endings & Beginnings
All transitions begin with endings. The challenge is learning how to let go of what was. The question is will we hang on to the past or will we make a real ending, thereby opening the way to a new beginning? Letting go must precede taking hold. We must be willing to live in the liminality in-between spaces. And so, we must train ourselves to hold anxiety, to live with ambiguity, to entrust and wait… to enter into the cloud of unknowing. For such is the way to life
Together, we are Poets & Prophets!
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The wilderness is where we come to accept the necessity of endings that we might be readied for new beginnings, not of our own making, but of connecting soul with Source.Tweet