“A vocation is only possible under conditions that also block it or make it impossible.”
John Caputo in What Would Jesus Deconstruct
That perspective flies straight in the face of the more contemporary notion that if you’re experiencing obstacles on your path, in the way of whatever vision or calling you’re living into, then it’s the wrong path. “It isn’t meant to be.”
The idea behind this thinking is that if it’s really the right path, calling, or vision for you it will be easy, open up effortlessly with no obstacles whatsoever.
This “if it’s right it should be easy” view may be a bit of glazy-eyed New Age froo-froo.
It also seems part and parcel of a more recent cultural notion that we’re all entitled to an always-easy, unobstructed way that opens to us when we stomp our foot and say ‘now’, and if that’s not the case, well there’s something wrong with us, or it’s not our path after all, or we’re just not thinking enough ‘happy thoughts’.
Don’t get me wrong – I love when it seems that Grace arises and the way just opens and things come together with this incredible, miraculous elegance that can, in my heart and mind, only be the influence of the Divine, because it sure as Hel isn’t an elegance that my Mini-Me-Mind self can pull off.
More of that please, right?
But it isn’t always that way, as many of us know. It’s often a bit more gritty, mucky, muddy, and messy. And occasionally it gets downright ugly.
You know what I mean …
You’re meandering along, like Persephone in the meadow picking poseys, and the path is all sparkling and secret-gardeny.
It seems your desired goal is right there in your sight, just inches away, when suddenly the road drops out from beneath you and you find yourself stuck in a mud hole, or sucked into the Underworld or the ‘dark places of Wisdom’, or suddenly lost “in the dark forest you know not,” a.k.a. the Dark Night, as Dante, John of the Cross, and many other fellow travelers have.
“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey…The impeded stream is the one that sings.” ~ Wendell Berry
This all creates a bit of inner confusion of the ingrained voices of culture: On one hand, the “If it’s not hard, it’s not worth it” conditioning that centers around misery and suffering being the benchmarks of worth, and ease being something that should invoke guilt; and on the other hand that New Age and entitlement belief that if it’s the right path it’s always supposed to be easy, cheery, effortless, ‘positive’, and graceful.
No wonder so many of us have “WTF?” moments, particularly when we’re called with all of our heart and soul to some thing or person or path or place, and for at least a good while (which can seem like forever) we have nothing but boulders on the path and ‘diminishing mirror’ voices of discouragement or diminished-vision or ‘just take a happy pill’ types all around us.
When reflecting on this phenomenon recently, I tuned in to the Inner Way to meditate on it, pray on it, and watch what came up from within and around me for guidance and understanding.
I recalled John Caputo’s book, What Would Jesus Deconstruct*, which I’d come across while perusing the library shelves. It’s one of my favorite ‘book gems’, and I’ve revisited it several times since (highly recommended for any true change-agent, Christian or not, who must live into and embody the change he or she seeks, or is called to be).
Caputo writes that any true calling will seem impossible or hopelessly obstructed, at least at times, but the living into it brings us to the change of heart and the renewal of mind that ultimately makes the thing or the change or the bona fide transformation possible.
And that may be the ultimate calling behind all callings … the change of heart; the renewal of mind; and real-deal transformation that happens in us so it can happen through and around us.
“If you’re lucky, at some point in your life you’ll come to a complete dead end.” ~ Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom
Caputo reminds us that it’s the very invitation of the thing that calls us into that all-important change of heart and mind, or metanoia, which is one of our Sophian gifts of the greater possibility.
This metanoia, alas, “comes by way of an unexpected turn of events, by shattering our horizon of expectation,” writes Caputo.
Hmmm, yeah, that sounds familiar: an unexpected turn of events that shatters my expectation-horizon. Check.
I also recalled several of my favorite stories from myth or sacred traditions, and of the lives of the various spiritual teachers, mystics, or statesmen or women who’ve inspired not just me but many other people.
I couldn’t find a unobstructed, ‘happy pill’ path among them. Indeed, most walked paths of seemingly perpetual obstruction and challenge. And yet it’s their wisdom that we continue to read, quote, and find inspiration, guidance, and nourishment from.
Whether Jesus or Teresa of Avila, or Rab’ia or John of the Cross, Dante or Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, or Thomas Merton or Julian of Norwich, and just about any real shamanka, mystic, guru, or Telestai, well-known or lesser known … this list could go on, and on. You can probably add a few of your own very easily.
I remembered, too, a favorite fable about Fatima the Spinner and the Tent, a young woman whose life features one great promise-turned-catastrophe after another, only to lead her to a place where she finds joy using the array of skills she learned from each catastrophe.
But that was only crystal clear to Fatima in hindsight, when she could see all of those dots connected into a coherent path. Along the way, there were times when she honestly thought she was cursed.
[And there have been moments in my life where I could definitely relate to and have found inspiration from Fatima’s experience and story!]
Into my awareness, too, came the real-life wisdom from an indigenous elder in the Pacific Northwest – a story I’d come across years ago in an article from Joan Borysenko.
In this encounter, like the others, the great and meaningful project was beset by one obstacle and seeming calamity after another.
Yet when asked if perhaps “it wasn’t meant to be,” the elder replied, “Oh, no. Obstacles are good signs. The bigger the spirit that is trying to be born, the greater the troubles that it must overcome. This makes it stronger.”
That’s what we might also call resilience, or grit, or developing your chops and patience and faith … virtues of great value, but they don’t come cheap.
Nor does that change of heart (or return to heart), renewal of mind (opening of mind), and transformation.
And yet it’s also the wild, holy, crazy Grace that keeps us on our toes and shakes us free of our nonsense, but in so doing, enriches us immeasurably.
So all this to say that sometimes the grace flows and the way opens, and sometimes the way is littered with boulders and hail and earthquake (may as well add locusts to that list, too, but let’s skip the boils, shall we?).
And sometimes the way may be altogether shut tight for awhile, and we wait. This, I admit, is not my favorite option.
But in those in-betweens or eco-tones, we pray, reflect, watch, listen, write, talk with our anam cara, believing mirrors, or a wise guide who’s also walked that road, and take one step after another, one breath after another, listening, watching, waiting, walking.
And maybe that’s okay. Maybe that is the way. Maybe that’s just our way.
Lots of love,
* In the many instances over the years when I’ve worked with individuals and organizations moving through change and transformation, as well as my own journey of change and transformation, this notion of deconstruction is crucial, and yet one of the least understood or appreciated in our Western culture.
If you’re navigating epic change, or on the boulder-strewn path and could use inspiration and coaching from a ‘believing mirror’ who’s been there, give me a shout out (info ‘at’ ivysea ‘dot’ com).
September 29, 2014 at 2:55 pm
To believe that being on the ‘right’ path is free from any difficulty is being delusional. “New Age froo-froo” indeed! Boo-hoo 😀
September 29, 2014 at 4:58 pm
Pretty funny, Nadine Marie. I know you’ve written about just that sort of thing, too. 🙂
September 30, 2014 at 12:13 am
May 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm
Reblogged this on Sophia's Children and commented:
A happy Medusa new moon to your fine self!
Since it seems ‘up’ for a few people around and about, I’m sharing this post from the Sophia’s Children archives.
It’s fun to revisit because it includes a couple of my favorite quotes, excerpts, and myth-stories (like the one about Fatima the Spinner and her Tent … if you haven’t met Fatima, just follow the links).
Wishing you strong roots and healthy senses (it is a Taurus-Venus new moon, after all!), and lots of Medusa (see the previous post if you missed that one!).
May 18, 2015 at 4:07 pm
Thanks for this reblog Jamie. I appreciate a different perspective on this topic. I do think there comes a time to shift gears if enough time goes by and you are no closer to your calling. There is a balance between giving up too easily and quickly and not appreciating the grit developing within the struggle and wasting precious time and resources spinning one’s wheels. Wish there was an actual way to know,,,,, Yet perhaps a new calling springs up or the same one resurfaces to meet you in your newer version of Self.
May 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm
You’re welcome, Linda. It is a different perspective from the more contemporary New Age (and some other) ones, and more in line with the timeless spiritual/wisdom traditions, for sure.
And absolutely agreed … what we’re talking about here is different from ‘way being blocked’ because it’s just *not* our way (that’s another archived Sophia’s Children post, inspired by Parker Palmer’s musings). Or it’s an ‘in between’ phase of one cycle and the next.
It’s all about discernment … praying and asking into it, watching (and listening, and sensing) for guidance, which rarely seems to show up as clearly as a billboard, unfortunately. 🙂
“Perhaps a new calling springs up or the same one resurfaces to meet you in your newer version of Self.”
May 19, 2015 at 8:40 am
Reblogged this on You Are The Light That You Always Have Been and commented:
SIMPLY TRUE AND BEAUTIFUL
May 19, 2015 at 9:11 pm
Thanks so much for reblogging the post, Ines, and rippling it out into your circle, too. ~ Jamie
May 19, 2015 at 8:41 am
Thank you for making my first cup of coffee taste incredibly sweet.
May 19, 2015 at 9:10 pm
I’m glad that was the case, Ines. Anything that makes the morning cuppa sweeter is a fine thing to begin the day with. 🙂 xoxo Jamie
May 19, 2015 at 10:42 am
Many years ago I had a calling which I knew in my heart was from God. I was warned by dear and caring friends that it was dangerous and they offered me many attractive alternatives, they were loving and well meaning and I will love them all throughout eternity. it was an easy temptation not to answer my call. I explained to them lovingly that this was their fear, not mine.
Then the obstacles began. Too numerous to mention. I was led in so many directions, so many blockages appeared, even I began to question if indeed I was doing the right thing. Finally a breakthrough came, contact was made and travel plans in the right direction were made. The day I was due to leave (feel free to smile here) I went down the stairway from the flat where I’d been staying and WHOA! the entire area around the bottom of the stairs had been newly cemented, wet cement for yards around, it was impossible to jump across. My daughter who was helping me with my luggage laughed and said ‘never mind, if we go up one floor there’s a lift. It’ll bring us out on the other side.’ It gave a whole new meaning to ‘when God closes a door, he opens a window’ (smiley face here)
This is only part of the story, many more problems and insurmountable obstacles came my way before I finally reached long term my intended destination. I knew I’d arrived when every single thing fell effortlessly into place, every experience was alive with wonder and learning.
I’d gone to teach and ended up learning more than I could have imagined there was to learn.
Of course there have been many, many experiences with obstacles since then, I always say ‘.they’ve cemented me in again’
What have I learned from this? Perseverance and patience.
The two things I most lacked, especially patience.
May 19, 2015 at 9:10 pm
Thanks so much for sharing that story, Evejoy! And wow, the literal ‘cemented in’ makes for a great story (in hindsight!). And thanks for making the distinction between someone else’s fear and your own, particularly important for empathic people who feel others’ ‘stuff’ as well as their/our own. And yes, perseverance and patience, especially patience (I could have written that one myself, so I smile as I read it). They’re all ongoing works in progress for me … that might be one of the fruits of having some journey behind us, too.
Thanks again for visiting and jumping into the conversation! xoxo Jamie
May 21, 2015 at 11:54 am
Big smile and hugs.
Thought I’d share a channelled message I received today. Think it explains why we need so much patience. Maybe you could use it somewhere in your work. Following a blockage in my own communication, I prayed this morning for help. The following directive came.
The spiritual density here, in the Western Hemisphere, is so heavily clogged with worldly confusions, even the air itself is becoming more and more polluted.
The few streams that are left and able to carry crystal clear information, are being blocked and ever more attacked.
They’re indoctrinated now, decades of indoctrination have created these unnatural deformities in their thought patterns.
Even so, behind all of that polluted information which is warping their sense channels, regardless of the sickness, lack of well-being, you are witnessing in them now, behind it all, there still dwells an innocent child of the universe, a soul enveloped in the mesh of worldly confusion.
Their smiles, their laughter, are masking silent screams.
‘It’s the way of the world ‘ they say. ‘Dog eat dog, strive harder to keep up. Ignore the call of ‘Love’. Where was love when I struggled to make sense of it all? , when I struggled to have the things of this world.?.
Be patient with them,be patient with yourself.
This confusion is making them fearful. Fear will make them attack even more, or worse, withdraw even further from the light.
The timing has to be right.
Trust that we are working with you on unblocking these channels.
The Rescue Workers all across the planet are being imbued with these silent screams, with this feeling of unwellness, it’s how we know where they are.
You know that for you it will pass. Stay strong and keep on being loving.
***********************************************************************************Not sure why I had the urge to share this with you, but I did..
May 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm
Thanks, EveJoy. Maybe someone will visit the blog and need to see just what you’ve shared. It seems that patience is definitely one of the virtues many are being ‘schooled’ in now (and for some, it’s an ongoing lesson!). Thanks for sharing. xoxo Jamie
May 19, 2015 at 5:15 pm
Jamie, I think also one really big key thing here that escapes most people is this whole free-will thing. All that having free-will means is that one is in a veiled consciousness state. That is what allows them to chose what is NOT who they truly are over who they truly are.
And yet people will so vehemently defend their “right of free-will” or to word it another way, which they are not consciously aware of, they are defending their right to remain in the dark or disempowered or have experiences “outside themselves”.
When you get far enough down your own healing, evolution, soul assignment path, you just flat “lose” your free-will, because when you communicate to the Divine, in one way or another, perhaps indirectly “Thy will be mine” – by initially / originally using your free-will to chose to do the Divine’s work – the Divine takes you at your word and goes about using you for ITS purpose, for ITS agenda, and all your base, 3D level desires take a back seat or are just flat closed off to you. Oh, you can use your free-will to resist that, as I talked about earlier, but that’s just gonna rip ya up and by that point, come on, ya know better. Did ya wanna be “on assignment” or still play around in the 3D / duality experiential illusional realm? There comes a time when you’re spiritually mature enough that ya just gotta let go of your own petty mundane-level, “programmed” desires.
I will give a quote from Cathy LaCounte’s “Awake & Aware – Top Priority: Self” which in turn quotes John Randolph Price:
“John Randolph Price in his book The Angels Within Us equates it to a clarinet that thinks it can play itself:
It has free will, which means that it thinks it can play itself, so it functions in the world by striking its own keys, blowing its own squealing notes. And all the time the Master musician is waiting to play the most harmonious melody the world has ever heard.
As time passes, the little clarinet discovers metaphysics and begins to tell the Master Musician within what notes to play for it: “O Mighty Spirit, play the note for a new car for me, for money in the bank and a new job.” At first this new way of playing brings results, but they are not lasting. Then the little clarinet seeks to make his demonstrations more “spiritual” and begins to listen for instructions from the Master within as to what notes to play: “Lord, give me the note for health and happiness and I will surely play it in your name.” And again some fruit falls from the tree, but the taste is not satisfying. Finally the clarinet’s consciousness evolves to the point where it declares, “I surrender to the great I AM THAT I AM. Master, play your notes through me!” ”
And these various steps that John defined as metaphysical, then spiritual, are stepping stones. They are part of the process and give feedback on how we all are indeed powerful creators, so yep, we just might get the new car or a better job or health and happiness, but at some point, at higher, advanced levels of one’s evolution, you turn yourself over to Divine will and serve in the way that the Divine wants you to.
May 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm
Thanks for visiting, Rick, and for sharing those insights. I’ve enjoyed dipping into John Randolph Price’s insights in the past, so appreciate that you’ve shared a few here as well.
You wrote: “Did ya wanna be “on assignment” or still play around in the 3D / duality experiential illusional realm? There comes a time when you’re spiritually mature enough that ya just gotta let go of your own petty mundane-level, “programmed” desires.”
That’s about it right there in this great experiment!
May 20, 2015 at 3:54 am
Interesting perspective. I know that a hellishly unhealthy post divorce rebound, followed by a few years of celibacy and self sufficiency, helped me appreciate my partner and gave me more compassion for people who stay in unhealthy relationships.
May 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm
Well, that sure sounds familiar, Joanna. 😉 And it’s true … the fruits are appreciating good relationships, compassion for those in unhealthy relationships, and maybe, too, an increased ability to see the unhealthy patterns and red flags earlier on! Thanks for commenting. Blessings, Jamie
June 9, 2015 at 4:13 pm
Authentic Wisdom spoken here ~ thank you Jamie <3
June 10, 2015 at 1:59 pm
You’re most welcome. I’m glad it resonated with you, Anna Lin.
It’s just one of those things that arises in awareness, particularly in the very Law of Attraction-centric culture that sometimes equates challenge or hardship or ‘testing’ with ‘something bad’ or ‘too many negative thoughts’. So it was nice to delve into a richer pool of perspective for this one. 🙂
February 24, 2018 at 1:58 pm
This was a good read. I sometimes question if it’s the “right” thing when obstacles seems to pop up left and right. Food for thought!
February 24, 2018 at 8:12 pm
I understand that one all too well! (Hence my musing on and writing this piece.) Sometimes it may be the right thing, sometimes not, but it seems there’s something in us that either keeps on going or ultimately gets to that “this is NOT worth it” point. Or some hybrid. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.
February 24, 2018 at 9:35 pm
Looking forward to browsing through your other posts. Have a nice weekend!
February 24, 2018 at 10:11 pm
Many thanks, Erin. Likewise (I enjoyed reading several of your own posts). Enjoy the coming few days! (So far, weekend is unfolding nicely, with some unexpected graces … always nice.)
February 25, 2018 at 12:59 am