What comes to my mind with the word “Here”, is the notion of being guided. McLaren’s story of being tracked down while on his fishing retreat reminds me of what I like to think of as my “still small voice”. I don’t claim that it’s the voice of the Almighty, but sometimes I feel a pause when I am about to do something, that is cautioning me to take a different direction. Sometimes, as with Brian, the voice doesn’t get my full attention, and it is later that I am aware that the path it was pointing to would have been a better path.
As I look back on my life, I have such a sense of being guided. When I was converted at age 16 at the Tower Theater in Bend, Oregon, after watching a Billy Graham movie, I started praying for guidance. After I walked away from Christianity 10 years later, I continued to be guided by the idea that my life had to have meaning, and had to help people somehow. I changed course in my career more than once, using this idea as my guide.
Around age 40, I was encouraged by an Episcopalian Spiritual Director to start praying again, but this time to a feminine God. I met the Spiritual Director in a Yoga class, and she was touched by how I was still grieving the loss of my Stage Two faith. I have called the One I then started praying to “Big Mama”, or “SOAB” (Source of All Being), or more recently “Holy Sophia, Virgin Mother”. My prayers often take place in the bathtub. And I find that when I ask, ideas come.
My intention has been to stay open to the guideposts. When something isn’t working or doesn’t feel right, or when a door slams shut in my face, I ask to be shown an alternate path that I can walk on. And I usually get an idea about something different to do. Trusting and following what seems to be guidance has taken me down some very fruitful and fulfilling paths.
For example, this approach to allowing for guidance has me sitting here today, writing, since talking isn’t working so well for me. It will be interesting to see where this takes me. I appreciate you for reading this. You are a generous and helpful part of my journey, especially since I have no idea what I’m doing.
I think it would be a mistake, however, to decide that if it’s hard, that it means I shouldn’t do it. I’m not ruling out using my voice, as well as the written word, to do something that might contribute. Things just get harder as we age.
I appreciate how McLaren acknowledges that we have no idea who or what we are addressing when we reach out for whatever our concept of “God” is. But that somehow this vast Mystery seems to pull our fuzzy intentions and land them somewhere, often, in a way that moves us forward.
Decades later in my spiritual journey, I welcome the idea that God is everywhere, always right here, right now, and seeking us, and me. There is a song I loved to sing at Living Enrichment Center: “God before me, God behind me, to the left and the right … God above me, God below me, all around and inside … all around and inside.” It was delightful to see McLaren make reference to this old Celtic Blessing in this chapter.
Here is a variation of St. Patricks’s Breastplate if you are interested.