Migrating the path of your own life is often times easy, set out, marked with arrows. Sometimes it feels like you’re on a track, the daily grind taking you in circles which seem oh-so-famliar with every turn. But there comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to choose their “way”. They have to put on their grown up pants and make a decision that will move them in a direction that is completely unknown and foreign.
The other night we took a walk in this breathtakingly, beautiful area near our apartment called the Leslie Spit. It is a man made peninsula on the east side of the city of Toronto that juts out 3 miles into Lake Ontario. There are no lights, no cars, no noise. You reach a point when you become completely surrounded with wilderness, not a building or a powerline in sight, just immense wildlife and the sounds of waves crashing on the shore to guide you on your walk. When the city is in view, it is unadulterated, heart-stopping and mystical. We were so taken by the surprise of this refreshing gulp of nature that we didn’t notice a storm brewing to our backs and the fast approaching sunset that would leave us stranded in the dark. With no modern conveniences such as street lights to guide us, we were left in a thick cloud of darkness.
We knew the path home but we couldn’t see it.
That is how life is right now, for me anyway. I know where I want to go, I know how to get there, but all the lights are off and I can’t see the path in front of me. It’s a frustrating and slightly scary place to be. It only seems natural to sit down and wait until the sun comes up or someone shows up with a flashlight or a giant blinking arrow in the sky comes by just to generously point you in the right direction. But this is not likely to happen. Life is not always so kind.
Yesterday morning, at worship, the homily was about pilgrimage. And although we were 45 minutes late, caught in the rain, and visiting a new community on the other side of town, we came in just in time for the words I needed to hear. The priestess told a story of a pilgrimage she took, one in which many obstacles and ailments arose. But she continued on her pilgrimage anyway, and along the way, a means to aid each adversity was always provided. She continued to say that what matters in a pilgrimage is not how fast you’ve walked, or whether you were the first one there or if you gained a multitude of blisters on your feet, but rather that you continue moving forward in faith that you are being looked after. I needed to hear that although finding your way through life is hard, there is so reason to fear. It was this simple courage I needed to be reminded that I already had.
Finding our way back home in the dark from the Leslie Spit wasn’t difficult, considering there was only one road. And getting caught in a storm as we approached our apartment deemed to be as amusing as it was a hindrance to our trip. But this small walk made me think about how easily I have let the unknown push me into a corner. I have let it keep me from taking a leap forward, having faith that following my passions is a risk worth taking, that I am indeed being looked after. Although I haven’t felt this way lately, I believe that when we come to a crossroads in life, we have to choose between staying on the path we’ve been on and taking a risk that is in line with our passions and core identity. Everyone who has ever done anything meaningful in life has made this difficult decision. And when we choose the road that leads us towards this kind of risk, it is at this unique moment that life bursts forth and we feel the most alive. We no longer settle or put up with or manage; we thrive. And that’s the kind of life I want to live, a life that views failure as a sharpening stone and lets fear fall by the way side. Of course, this is all easier said than done. But it is reminders like these that recenter us and give us courage to take another step.
May we never be afraid to keep moving forward as we navigate through life, even if we can’t see exactly where we are going.