Dear Pope Francis,
It’s happening! It’s the end of July, and I’m ready for it to be fall. While, I am really excited to travelling home today, and wouldn’t want to wish the month of August away entirely, fall is definitely on my mind. It has a little bit to do with the fact that the weather has been fall-like here in Toronto the last couple of days, and that I’ve been scrambling to research for papers I need to write while I’m home (summer courses are a great idea, until there are papers to write…)
I am always the person who gets excited for the new thing. When it’s summer, I can’t wait for fall, and when it’s fall, I can’t wait for winter. When I’m on the East Coast, I look forward to going back to Toronto, and when I’m in Toronto, I can’t wait to go east. To some degree, I love living my life this way, because there is always something to look forward to. Sometimes, I run the risk of wishing away things when I’m bored with them (like every summer break for twelve plus years). When I start wishing things away, I have a much harder time enjoying them for what they are.
In addition to looking forward to the next thing, I love countdowns. At one point in May, I had four countdowns happening, one for my sister’s visit, one for Meredith’s first Toronto visit, one for another friend’s visit, and one for my trip in June. I will countdown how many assignments I have left to pass in at the end of the semester (three before September), how many courses I have left until I finish my M.Div. (seven), and just about anything else that seems relevant in my life (the next installment of my favourite book series, perhaps…). Thankfully, I have never had a countdown until I could start counting down (I don’t personally know anyone who has done this, but I believe someone, somewhere has!).
But all of this looking forward, off into the distance, stops me from looking at the ground right in front of me.
I know when I go for a walk, I’m supposed to walk with my head up to keep good posture, but sometimes, I need to watch the ground right in front of me because there are things on the sidewalk that could trip me (or maybe I’m just kicking a stone along and I need to see where it went). Looking at the ground right in front of me, while preventing an immediate fall, doesn’t give me a very good sense of direction, and doesn’t mean that I will notice when I’m about to run into a pole. So, I need to be able to do both, watch the ground and keep half an eye out for the general direction that I’m heading.
I use discernment to help me keep a general direction. Movements of consolation or desolation help me to acknowledge where it is safe to walk, and when there are poles that I need to avoid. Sometimes they also tell me when I need to wait for something, like waiting for the cars before I cross the street. I will ultimately get to where I need to go, but I need some patience first. In real life These safe places, poles and crosswalks, could be things like knowing that I to go home for a bit, or knowing that taking a certain job isn’t the right fit, or waiting out a tough time. Having a sense of the general direction that I’m going, allows me to recognize the smaller things that might trip me up, all the curbs, rocks and cracks in the sidewalk. I can avoid them, while keeping my general direction.
I think it’s been safe to say that there’s been lots of discernment for both Meredith and I in the last few months. I have definitely tripped up a little bit in the process, but as with anything else, I get up, dust myself off, and try to avoid running into the same pole or tripping over the same curb in the future.
Going for a discernment walk,