I’m starting this Wednesday morning with a confession: over the past couple of years, as I have worked with the concept of “discernment”, lived in a place of discernment, worked to always practice true discernment, listened, prayed, thought, probed –truthfully, I have come, well, to dislike the word discernment. In fact, as of yesterday, I would do anything to avoid the word, the concept, the idea — if, sitting across from someone, they had leaned forward and told me in hushed tones that they were in a period of discernment, I probably would have had to leave the room — no matter the depth of their sincerity or need. The word had become like the sound of crushing ground glass on my too-sensitive ears, especially these past few summer months while I was in self-imposed retirement from my journey.
That is where I was. Over the past few days, and especially yesterday, that has all changed.
Oh, its not like I didn’t make what others might call “progress” along my journey during these months of repose from striving. I am continually obsessed with the image of a fork in the road…and the thought that, in our American culture, the expectation is that I should choose one or the other fork and get on with it. But when I see the fork, I just keep seeing myself running ahead on the grass between. Is that a failure to choose, or an acknowledgement that there are unseen roads that need to be followed, buried beneath the grass?
But yesterday, for a moment, in the middle of just a daily event, before my human, controlling mind could grasp what was happening, there was just a little tug….and I paid attention — I stopped for just a second to record the feeling, to look around and see what was going on when it happened, and to listen to the possibility. And then I went on with what I was doing. And in that moment, I was given a wider view of just what living in discernment actually means.
You see, I, like so many other over-educated, over-achieving Americans, think that the process of discernment will lead me to a destination. If I listen, I will get an answer. My life will be in order, my faithfullness will be rewarded — I will find true peace and happiness. And that, my friends, is not what discernment brings. I have been wrong.
A life lived in discernment can, perhaps, bring the courage and the guidance to fuel your next step. Maybe. Or maybe not. I’ll let you know after I take that next step. And I’ll keep listening for that tiny tug that pulls me I don’t know where.