“In the middle of the road of my life, I awoke in a dark wood where the true way was wholly lost.” Dante, La Divina Comedia
“How do you know that you’re on your path – because it disappears. That’s how you know. How do you know the path is right – because you can’t see where you are going. Self-doubt…is a sign that you are on the true way.” David Whyte, Celtic poet
Here is a great mystery. When everything is clear and certain, and you already know exactly what will happen next, and you are all cozy and comfortable – you are not awake! Living on the alive, ever unfolding path of conversion simply doesn’t work that way.
As followers of the Way of Christ, our ongoing conversion of life is like this:
- The Spirit of the living Christ is always waiting for us on the next horizon, always on the cutting edge, always moving in the mists of the Great Mystery that is this life; and
- The Creator is always out there birthing new stars, and right here “making all things new,” including you, not traipsing around in some stagnant, backwater swamp where nothing ever changes.
So if you are filled with certainty, and have all the right religious answers, and have God all figured out, you might not have faith at all. For faith is “the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”
Be filled with questions then, and awe, and wonder – like the women at the empty tomb, and Peter who followed them there, all marveling and wondering what happened.
Be un-certain about the resurrection of Christ, un-sure of what that really means for you, un-clear about what will happen next between Christ and you.
If you are living with that kind of humility and not-knowing – Then – the Spirit of a living Christ can get to work in you:
- Can enter into the cracks, when Life has turned you upside down;
- Can mold your life like putty in his compassionate hands, when your old life has dissolved, and the way things used to be can never come back;
- Can move through your broken places, and guide you down to the wholeness beneath all brokenness, at the Source of your being.
After your own conversion is underway, if your brother or sister tells you they are “in a dark wood where the true way is wholly lost,” you can welcome them into your heart, welcome them into the community, and let them know they belong with people like us.
For we are a lost community, and filled with wonder, falling on our knees, and bowing in reverence, undergoing our conversion of life right now, as the living Christ comes to us in our lostness, and dances us out toward invisible horizons. We do not know where we are heading. That’s how we know we are on the true way, the Way of Christ.
So where is that Christ living these days? “You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart!” (from the hymn: “He Lives.”)