Ever since 2004, when I launched my voice through my radio show ‘Living on Purpose’, I have experienced a growing pressure to live up to living on purpose in my life. From being called by one ‘a spiritual leader in the community’ to being reprimanded by another for what was perceived as my thoughtless (‘on purpose?’) behavior, there have been many moments when I questioned and defended my sense of what living on purpose meant: accepting my process in being present, or not, of learning through regret, of taking responsibility for myself, for my thoughts and actions, of being gracious, and being willing to apologize as needed for my lack of grace, and of rejoicing in moments of exquisite alignment of my inner and outer worlds.
During my recent road trip, on the return leg of the journey, I pulled over along the border of Quetico Provincial Park in northern Ontario where there was cell phone service. I called my Dad to find out where exactly in the park he and his friends made their canoe trip in the 1950’s. This call, which I had expected to be brief, turned into a half hour of intense discussion about a line I had written in my recent ‘Personal Acceptance Declaration’ (Synergy, March/April 2011). Thoughtful and caring even through the years when he has been mystified by my adventures and rebellions, my Dad, now 84, is a full time philosopher. That day, having been slowed down in his writings and activities by a cold, he had time to read my Declaration, and took exception to my statement: ‘I am aligned with divine guidance in each moment: in presence, choice and action’.
“That is a 100% statement!” he asserted, clearly uneasy about the implications of such a thing. Admittedly, I was surprised by the strength of that line when he reminded me of it, and realized it could be seen as bold, even presumptuous. Does it mean that we all are aligned with divine guidance or that only I am, or that we all ‘should’ be? Or that we all are aligned with whatever we each perceive as divine guidance whether we are aware of it or not? Does it mean that I think I am perfect, that I slide along on a blissful divine swing through physical existence? I was willing to engage with his challenge to clarify my commitment. He quoted someone who says that ‘you can’t be completely religious [spiritual] without some doubt’. For me, there is no doubt that I am either aligned with divine guidance in all moments, or I’m not. I choose to believe that I am. I can make mistakes in my divinely guided life. The test is in how I live up to the purpose of the learning through those ‘mis-takes’ through my willingness to be present, see my choices, have the courage to act, or hold back, and even when I’m crawling out of my skin with anguish, to continue loving myself, no matter what. My Dad thinks that humans have been given considerable scope for independent action, and also can be influenced by times of divine guidance. He enjoys eloquently describing his own experience in his writings to share his wonder with others.
“Who are you to think you are divinely guided?” he asks. In reply, I say “Who am I to think that I am not divinely guided? In my experience, to accept that I am divinely guided in each moment helps me to reach higher, reach further in my interactions with others, with myself, with my intuition. If I said, ‘I will try to live in alignment, I might be living in alignment, I feel like I am living in alignment with divine guidance’, would that be better? Or would I be compromising my commitment for the comfort of others who are challenged by my willingness to grow beyond my own comfort level with divine guidance?”
Three weeks ago I returned from what had evolved into a two month drive across Canada and back: a wander of four weeks of highways and visits to where my parents live in Guelph, Ontario, followed by two weeks of visits with family and friends between there and Ottawa, before I turned the car around to drive for another two weeks with more of a time line, and more people to visit on my return to Vancouver Island. The tidy total of details is: 12,000 kilometers in two months with an estimate of 200 visits, which includes spontaneous meet ups with other travelers and locals. One night of camping, two nights in my car, half a dozen inexpensive accommodations (through the lengthy magnificence of northern Ontario), and the remaining nights being welcomed to the homes of friends and family. I enjoyed temperate weather, a few thunderstorms, blackflies, mosquitoes (doing my share of bug control with the front bumper of my car) and seeing a variety of wildlife. I celebrated my nickname ‘last minute Lynn’ by showing up with a five minute margin for the Tobermory Ferry both times as I headed east and west. Each day was a mini experiment in manifestation and abundance, including a multitude of photographic pauses, with only a handful of days when I was full on driving, and several days when the car was parked. Some have wondered how I could afford to take this much time away from my postal route, and to leave my recent hospitality position at the retreat centre. For me, I could not afford to hesitate, when my heart called out to journey now, take a chance to put it all on hold and simply drive, being open, being solo, adventuring. I am grateful for contributions from family and friends that kept the bills paid and the gas tank filled and for the many meals that we shared along the way.
The springboard of inspiration for this journey, by the way, was the passing of my aunt in mid-April, near the culmination of my three months of working part-time and living at the local retreat centre. That position had been an answered prayer to my quest in January to be of service, and to draw me out of isolation. Being part of that team and community strengthened many aspects of my confidence and ‘vulner-abilities’. I am ever grateful for the experience, which also, in the process of moving in and moving out, further freed me of excess possessions, scattering them in various directions, opening the door for me to receive what more accurately serves purpose on my path of now. The more I let go, the more my curiousity grows for what exists beyond the familiarity of accumulated objects. As well, during that time of presence in retreat life, there was sparked and illuminated the dream in me to roam free, to draw a large circle from that point 33 years ago when I first ventured west from Ontario. My love of outreach shone along through my travels as I shared heart cards, received personal insights, and created a ‘mobile memorial’ for my aunt, her life celebrated through the sharing of memories with so many of her friends across the land.
One day while I was driving somewhere in this great big neighbourhood of Canadian provinces, I got to thinking about the expression ‘the joy is in the journey’. I had already noticed that the letters j-o-y are in the word ‘journey’, so then I wondered about the other letters, u-r-n, which brings awareness of physical mortality symbolized by the ‘urn’, and what letter is left? E: the joy in the journey that is expressed with a gleeful ‘eeeeeee’!
A week following my return to Vancouver Island, my postal route and the managing of my remaining objects in storage, I was in the fullness of anticipation of ‘what is next’ on my journey. That night in my little suite, I awoke with trouble breathing and felt the starkness of: what if I were to die tonight? I saw then more clearly the moment-to-moment completeness of my life, that it does not hinge on what will happen, or what could happen or what I hope will happen. I am living in the midst of a maze of dots, that are continually being joined by each of my choices, rejoices and breaths. I am as complete and as on purpose as I can be in this moment, and I am grateful that you and I are vulnerable, strong and emerging beings exploring this divinely guided adventure in physical form together. Thank you.
Lynn Thompson hosts ‘Living on Purpose’ which aired on CHLY radio 2004 – 2009. Visit LivingOnPurposeLynn.com for podcasts.
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