Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Question Returns

A couple of weeks ago I was slightly overwhelmed with some odd flashbacks and images.

For some really strange reason, I was reminded of a conversation I'd have with my mother many years ago, after she'd been to an open evening at the college I attended back in the 90's. She had been speaking to my Biology lecturer about my grades and prospects in the subject, when the latter mused that irrespective of those grades and prospects, the direction of my life was more likely to be found on the inside and outside covers of the lever arch file I carried my course notes in and that whatever my efforts and and endeavours were... it was obvious where my real path lay. I've never forgotten my mother reporting that conversation back to me. You may ask what exactly was on my folder. Well aside from a couple of pictures from treasured science fiction programmes and a small monotone picture of a fictional girl that had given me cause to smile once (a totally unrelated story for another time perhaps, feel free to ask), it was peppered with scriptures and inspirational poems and a couple of encouraging words from friends.

Not long after this, I kept thinking about the George Lucas fantasy genre film, Willow. I haven't seen the film in years, but there were a couple of scenes in particular that kept resonating inside my head. They occur near the beginning of the film where Willow (played by Warwick Davies), is aspiring to become the apprentice to his village's High Aldwin (a kind of seer/sorcerer figure). As the entire village looks on, the High Aldwin stands before several hopeful candidates and issues the following challenge:

"Magic is the bloodstream of the universe. Forget all you know, or think you know. All that you require is your intuition. Now... the power to control the world, is in which finger?"

He wiggles the fingers on one hand mystically and invites each candidate to pick a digit. One by one, each candidate fails until finally, the High Aldwin stands before Willow.

Willow hesitates before making his choice
Willow wavers and briefly glances down at his own finger before selecting one of the Aldwin's remaining outstretched fingers...

"No apprentice this year!" proclaims the High Aldwin as he storms off in a huff.

A little later in the film, Willow is confronted by the High Aldwin over his hesitation. He asks Willow what his first impulse was when making his choice. Willow replies that his thought was stupid... to pick his own finger. The High Aldwin tells him that it would have been the correct choice and that he lacks faith in himself, but encourages him with the thought that more than anyone else in the village, he has the potential to be a great sorcerer... and that he should trust his own instincts out in the world.

At about the same time that these two things entered the orbit of my thought process, I started to think of a conversation I'd had a couple of years ago with regard to calling and vocation... and how at that time (a time when I'd felt that I should perhaps be exploring the possibility of heading off in that direction), I'd felt the door very much slammed in my face by some well meaning advice I'd been given from someone on the inside (who admittedly didn't really know me very well). The advice I had been given was to discouraging me from that path with a gentle warning that if I wasn't careful, I ran the risk of letting my life be defined by others...

But you see the the thing is... the more I think of it, the more I wonder that if by the act of merely taking that advice... I perhaps proved it's point.

These thoughts have all coincided with a bit of disquiet in my life on several fronts and I am left with an old nagging feeling again... that I'm a square peg in a round hole and that I'm making the best of a lot that isn't really intended for me.

Maybe I should have trusted my instincts back then.

One thing is certain... so seriously do I take this debate that rages within me, that a couple of weekends ago, it held the power to stop me dead in my tracks in a park on the way back home from the shops. I was compelled to sit and have a "conversation" with God over the matter. The trouble is that I'm lacking clear direction on the matter... not that I blame God.

Henry David Thoreau once wrote:

"If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away. "

That's just it... I'm in that place where I can hear a cacophony of drums.  I need to lose pace and listen for which set of drumbeats is the one that is God's signature tune for me to catch on to. With this in mind, I have decided during Lent to try and make a commitment to pray for a little while every day for guidance with regard to the matter. I believe I should be looking for signposts during this time. I read in my Bible notes today that there is a theory that training yourself to do something over 30 days... can  condition your brain into treating it as habit.

I don't know if that's true... but I do believe that in order to get the guidance we need from God... we have to be prepared to sacrifice the time not just to speak, but to watch, listen and simply be...

For me that is what Lent is all about... it's not about giving things up temporarily, it's about making time and space for God... so he can move more freely in our lives.

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