It’s funny how our pasts poke their noses into our current lives. Like a stray puppy who finds your sliding glass door cracked open just a bit, and strains to open it wider in order to gain entry.
Not completely an unwanted intrusion.
But neither an invited guest.
Mostly just confusion with a soupçon of chaos.
Memories have to be retrieved. Quickly, quickly, before he realizes that he has faded to a pastel wash against the setting sun.
Feelings have to be sorted, put back in place. Anger, here. Tenderness, over there. Resentment, just sit in the corner, please, and do your best to behave.
But today isn’t yesterday. Bodies have changed. Minds have reshaped themselves an infinite number of times. Approaches to certain situations have mellowed and transformed, or grown sharper, or forgotten altogether.
The stray puppy that once would have been greeted with wide arms and loving hugs, now is meticulously checked over for injuries and fleas, assessed as to needs, accommodated, then found a rightful place in the world.
The title of this post: Pathing, my word. I use it to describe that process we go through as we build a relationship with God. As we stumble over our own tendency to react to things in a “real” manner, not considering the concept of “trusting in God” as a “real” thing. Just nice words. Trust in God. Something we may apply only during our bedtime prayers.
With God, because we are all unique individuals, and because most people really don’t want to discuss the reality of God, pathing is something that is individually learned. We have to find what prayers work for us. We have to learn when to step back from “real” life and watch God fill in the blanks before us.
Pathing is both a difficult thing to learn, and an even more difficult thing to write about. Mystics try it all over the place. And sometimes these writings just sound like inspired inspirations, a Godly cooing to reassure us that in spite of all our doubts, God is behind us. Other times, incoherence seeps into the writing. At least incoherence in the eyes of the reader. The writer probably thought he was making great sense. Just great.
Sense, that is.
But with God, one man’s up is another man’s sideways. And another’s turn-your-back-and-walk-the-other-way. And trying to come to an agreement on how to have a relationship with God is like trying to tidy up during a library playtime for two-year-olds.
It just can’t be done.
So I write about my experiences on my path here and there. It probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. I can readily admit that to anyone listening. Or reading. I figure if I keep repeating what my experience is like, the experiences of other people might become clear to them. Even just a little bit.
Oh, look what I did here. I listened to God! Imagine that!
It’s a nice thing to accept that what feels weird yet wonderful is just plain wonderful. Even if it’s something you can’t talk about with your friends.
As I’ve written before, I spent most of my life in what God called, My First Level Of Learning. I spent not a small amount of that time wondering what the implication of the word, “First,” was. Fine. It means these levels are numbered. But how many are there? And how old will I have to be when I finished them? If it takes me most of my life to get through just the first one, how will I ever manage to get to level 32? Or does the accomplishment of them speed up once you’ve gotten past the first one?
Seems there are only two.
That’s quite a relief.
The first, it seems, was all about the study of God.
Well, duh. I should have figured that out on my own.
The second, it seems, is all about the study of man. Which I would think, if I knew enough beforehand to be able to think about it, would be a whole lot easier than the study of God.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
God is relatively easy. (I like the joke there of saying God is relative about anything.)
God is absolute. Which means what you know about God is true for all time, in all places, and for all men.
Just like that.
Man. Not so simple. We are more like a great basin of water into which 2,000 rivers flow, each with different fish and algae and water plants and what-not.
All these flows smashing in together to form one person.
Who is different from the collection of flows in the person next to him. And the one next to him. And the one next to him.
And so it goes on.
Anyway, back to God.
So God is absolute. Which means that once he has taught me something, It Is Taught. It doesn’t grow and blossom into something else. My understanding may take time to get there, but once it’s there (the point of the lesson, that is), the learning is over and the application of the learning begins.
Which has it’s own realm of understanding all to itself.
One thing that I learned in My First Level Of Learning was how to path. What to do as I wandered through life. One lesson was about feet: When you don’t know where you are going, look down at your feet, they always know. Just follow them.
That isn’t the exact way God put it, but that’s the gist of the lesson. (I wonder if it is called, The Lesson of the Feet.)
But then there was relationship training. How to interact with other humans, those other basins, tidal or otherwise, that we must interact with.
What happens when someone slams the door on your relationship?
Weep and gnash teeth?
Once a door is closed, it is closed. Respect that. See that you are on a path, which implies movement, and continue on your path.
No pounding on doors.
No using a battering ram to break the door down.
No trying to pick the lock under the cover of night.
Just keep walking.
We could combine this lesson with The Lesson of the Feet, and reason that feet don’t ever try to get through a closed door.
They only go through open doors.
At closed doors, they stop.
Right. Trust The Feet.
The other thing to know about closed doors is this: should, down the line, the door be reopened and an invitation to enter be made, Never, Ever, Ever, Under Any Circumstance, Accept The Invitation.
Because the force that slammed the door closed once is still inside the house. More than likely, the experience will just keep repeating itself.
To your detriment.
And the increase of your confusion.
And the loss of advancement on your path.
See life as a walk next to a nice stone wall. Door closed. Keep walking. Feel the stones in the wall as you walk.
Progress is your goal.
Everything else on the path is just telling you where to go. And how to get there.
Just path signs, as it were.
So what happens when someone who slammed a door on you once upon a time shows up at your door?
Well, I’ve been learning these past few weeks, the dynamic as changed.
Switched places, in fact.
It’s no longer his door. Now it’s his path he’s on.
And it’s YOUR door.
So now it’s Your choice.
Or to close.
Thanks be to God.