Grace Verity, Western Australia Regional Meeting.
I have made some spectacularly bad decisions in my life, and at other times, apparent miracles have fallen into my lap. The unpredictable results of my decision making processes has led me to give this area of my life some serious, committed attention, and look for more reliable indications of the calling of Spirit.
From this work, I have come to think that tuning into the voice of soul is what a successful discernment process is about. I’m not coming at this from a theoretical perspective, rather, I’ve muddled my way through to a point where I am starting to grasp an understanding of what works for me, and what really, really doesn’t.
One way of describing the part of myself I am calling soul is the bridge between the everyday part of me, my personality if you like, and the divine Presence that infuses all of creation. My rational, personality-self doesn’t have a language to approach divinity. Neither does it have the inclination, convinced it is clever enough to run the world single handed… But my soul yearns for closeness to divinity, and offers small, quiet, but clear signs of the way to allow the divine more room in my life.
However, these promptings of soul can seem completely crazy to my rational self. Invisible, illogical, unwilling to argue, soul simply speaks its truth, holds out its light and gently, appealingly, looks my way.
This kind of quiet insistence is easily discounted, ridiculed, ignored by my practical side. It doesn’t defend itself. And yet even my practical side has been persuaded through experience.
I have experimented over and over… until I have reached a point where I have become very reluctant to override the prompting of soul. (Some of my failures have been very spectacular…) Now, from sheer self-preservation, I have become willing to keep a symbolic ear cocked for soulful input, and even though it pains me to refuse an apparently sensible path, and follow what seems like a whim from soul… I cannot deny it works astonishingly well.
I have found to my surprise that the voice of soul is always present to me, and has always been so. I just haven’t known how to recognize it. It is such a small, yearning voice: an inclination, an idea with liveliness, a gentle prompting, that it is easy to override, ignore, shout down with ‘Good Reasons’.
I picture myself at a crossroads, when it is time to use discernment. There are a number of paths I can choose. Some are well signposted, wide, and easy to see down. One is a small, simple track which turns and becomes obscured; I cannot see far down that one, it is not predictable, it bears no signpost.
It is risky, and somehow enticing.
Quietly, that is the way I want to go. I feel a rising joy when I consider the prospect. The broad, well-trampled road is clearly signed. That is the road I ‘should’ take. But, my heart sinks at the prospect.
And, by a process of trial and error, I have come to conclude if I choose against that small inclination, and head down the broad path, unexpected obstacles arise. It can get me where I felt I ‘Should Go’, but at high cost of effort.
All the good reasons I had collected seem to unravel, somehow, on the way, and I am left with tangled rags, and I am hot and dusty, without enough water.
On the other hand, if I take the small winding track of my yearning, I find as I travel that there are fabulous reasons to have gone this way, that were initially hidden from my view.
What’s more, I feel at ease, there is pleasure as I travel, wonderful coincidences occur. I meet other travelers who offer gifts that ease my way. All ‘flows’, and my soul sings.
I think that the voice of soul prompts me to go in the direction of my true life, where Spirit would lead me, as opposed to my very busy, important life that I make up on my own, that somehow is missing sweetness, even though everything looks right.
Given what valuable guidance comes through soul, and how helpful it is on a practical level, I am surprised how little I have been taught about recognizing its style—that it constantly offers the guidance of small yearnings. I don’t remember being taught that rich fulfilment and blessings beyond compare would regularly come into my life if I discerned direction from Spirit, through soul, on a daily basis.
It didn’t occur to me that this approach, related to the hippy mantra: ‘Follow your bliss’, might be a serious and viable answer to the questions of what life is all about, why we are here, and how can we make it work better…
It is said that every blade of grass has its own angel, leaning over it and whispering: ‘Grow! Grow!’ Jesus talked about the lilies in the fields. Yet despite these teachings, in the past I felt it was silly and irresponsible to think there was a heavenly someone up there looking out for me.
I have since come to know that somehow, in this beautiful and ordered universe, there is help for little old me, every moment of every day. I don’t understand how it works. But I know, experimentally that if I listen, and befriend and honour the voice of soul, instead of scoffing… If I allow that perhaps there is a great, creative force within me, as a tiny part of the whirling grandeur of the cosmos, and that this force has a wisdom I cannot understand, I can choose to follow its small tugging from within. Then, somehow the world falls at my feet.
All is well.
I am guided into joy, and I find myself living in deep, loving peace.
Thank you, Grace, for sharing these deep insights. You have been blessed.
I agree with Ruth. What a lovely article. Thank you.
I am reminded of that wonderful advice in As&Qs: “live adventurously [in the Spirit]”. It implies trust in a God who celebrates our humanity.
Is this a judging God? My instinct is to say, NO WAY! But then I am reminded that in Paul ‘judging’ is associated with true justice but also with doing justice by or to oneself. Loving thyself.
So your piece is a blessing to me personally (and to many others I hope) because it reminds me again that I can pause, be grateful that I can love myself because I am, after all, a part (a phylum, Leibnitz said) of the Great Loving, the Wonderous Consciousness, that is God. And in loving myself more, opportunities for loving my neighbour still more are opened up.
So . . . see what you’ve done!
Thank you, Friend, you speak my heart and mind and soul.