Spiritual Practice: Assenting to Change
Most mornings I walk in the high desert. I’ve noticed that after one of our rare, intense rains, the landscape of the trail changes dramatically. Large rocks, previously hidden, are uncovered. Smaller rocks, washed down slopes, make the trail tricky to navigate. In some places, fine sand washes down to cover the trail in a delightfully soft carpet.
Our interior landscape also changes when the storms of life descend on us. The loss of a loved one, a job loss, or the onset of a chronic illness will forever alter the landscape of our lives. These major changes have the ability to make us bitter and angry people, or soft and loving people. The difference is whether we are willing to assent to the changes that are happening to us. We don’t have to like them, welcome them or look forward to them. Change can be really hard! But, it is also inevitable. Therefore, we can choose how to respond to it. Can we see change as God’s grace to help form us into more loving people? Can we look for the good or the gift in the change?
Large boulders, exposed by the rain, are like those parts of us previously unexamined. which in times of stress now rise to the surface. Our fears, insecurities, and stubborn bitter roots are exposed for all to see. Do we try to cover them up, or can we be honest with ourselves and others so that healing can begin?
The rocks that cover the path are like the myriad decisions we have to make after a huge storm. These take careful navigation at a time when emotional resources are low. Do we hide from the enormity of these decisions or ask for help from our trusted soul friends?
The soft sands which have washed across the path are like the unexpected graces that surprise us: the support of friends, the sudden brilliance of a sunset, or a double rainbow. These glimpses of beauty are reminders that we are not forgotten in our pain. We do not walk alone.
There are also beautiful landscape changes in the desert after a storm; new life springs up almost at once. Desert flowers bloom afresh and small creatures, their numbers previously diminished by drought, are born in abundance.
This same hope for growth and life are ours in times of landscape renovation. They are a reminder of the God who is known for recycling ashes into beauty, turning mourning into joy, and exchanging the spirit of heaviness for garments of praise. All that God asks is our assent to the transformation.
These are the markers of hope to look for as we walk the now altered trail. What new insights will we receive? What new skills will we learn? What adventure is ahead…just around the bend?
Change is not easy, and I have faced more than my share, so if you need someone to walk with you, let me know in the comments below.