If you and I were both traveling vagabonds, but purposeful, more like pilgrims, but I was maybe older and more accustomed to traveling, and we met each other one night after dinner, over a fire in the back half-room of a hostel that overlooked a spindly but sincere garden, with dying embers and dying voices as other travelers turned in for the night, and you asked me what discernment was like, maybe I’d smile out of the left half of my mouth as I exhaled and tell you to join me in the morning.
And, if you did join me, maybe, if we were lucky and I correctly judged the weather pattern, it would be one of those days were there was maybe the start of sun at one point, but then we were completely enveloped in fog.
This, I would say, to me, is discernment. For a second I caught a glimpse of the sun, so I head in the opposite direction, for it is morning, and the sun rises in the east.
I grasp my pack my the straps, under my shoulders, and I walk with my face forward, and my short legs in dedicated, quick strides. I don’t have long strides, but I have a set, dedicated pace. In this fog, still, I would walk with the same direct intensity.
But, you could say, we can’t see the sun now at all. How do we know we are going in the right direction?
And I would say: we don’t. We saw it at one time, though, so that’s how we start.
But, you might say, how do we know that we won’t lose the trail?
And I would say: there is no guarantee.
If you then asked, but what if we are wrong, then?
I would answer: why, then, the next time that we see the sun, we will correct our path and start again.
But this seems foolish, you might say.
And maybe it is.
But I don’t have another way.
I walk a lot in fog these days, it seems. But, it doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I rely on glimpses of sun, here and there, enough for me to set my face and my path again. And I remember how it looked, even when clouded, and how I value its light.
The sun will come back. It will. But, until then, in this fog, we can still set our pace and there is enough clarity around us to watch for the brambles and to stay, more or less, on the straight-and-narrow. And together we can watch with double-eyes and heightened alertness.
Also I rely on the promise of God, true as the path of sun through the heavens, but as relational as those whose driveways and mailboxes line the path–invested in my well-being, providing for my needs.
And, as always, I am grateful too for the company. For it is lonely to walk the Camino alone. So then we could walk together, in the fog, for a while, looking for the sun, seeing nothing but a few yards in front of our faces, but, for the time being, letting even that be enough.
Are we going the right way? We hope we are.
We trust the sun will not lie to us.
It is enough, in the fog, to walk together, looking for the sun, praying for the true path.
And when one of us outpaces the other, we can go our separate ways. But that is not right now. So we can hoist our packs a smidge higher, and walk some more.
2 thoughts on “On discerning”
Lovely, just lovely. I think we can all feel like we’re right there with you.