This morning I picked up a book I'd ordered some time ago, sort of by accident; one of those Amazon things where "people who ordered this book also purchased..."
It's by Sera Beak, and it's called The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark. Beak appears to be a member of my daughters' generation, and she has the wonderfully refreshing and open approach to spirituality that characterizes much of her generation, but also a good deal of wisdom about balancing exploration with good sense and not getting too caught up in the Spiritual Buffet.
So I've been skipping through the book to get a feel for what she's offering, and happened upon a chapter entitled "Divine Winks: The Universe Wants Your Attention. Will You Wink Back?" which begins with this: "The divine is slapping your ass right now. It happened yesterday. It will continue tomorrow, even if you try to avoid it."
Basically her point is that there are signs and wonders everywhere, but we need to learn to read them, to listen and respond. And one of her first points is about prayer. She firmly believes "that if you ask the divine for a response or a solution, you'll invariably get it. Always. That's right, ALWAYS. Ask and ye shall receive. But here's the catch: It's often incredibly tricky and sometimes damn annoying to try to hear the answers. Because the answer almost never comes in a form we expect, we often swear we've heard no answer at all. Sad but true."
"Most of us," she goes on to say, "hide from the responses to our prayers because they demand change -- emotional, physical, or some other kind. And let's face it, change freaks us out. It takes guts to pray creatively, but it takes even more guts to be able to truly see, understand, and act responsibly on the answers we receive."
Yup. I would have to agree. Chances are, if there's something we've been praying for, the answer's already been given. It may even be staring us in the face -- we just can't (or don't want to) see it.
And here's the corollary: just because you follow some divine instinct and step off your current path into some completely new undertaking, that doesn't mean that's where you're meant to stay. It might just be that there are some important lessons to be learned in the process of stepping away and stepping forward; lessons that you'll end up carrying into some new place altogether -- or back into familiar territory for a new approach to old problems.
It's all an adventure, to be sure -- and she's right: it takes courage. It also takes a willingness to examine your own stuff, which gets very tricky: it's so much easier to drift from fun exploration to fun exploration --"to pick and choose what you want... only taking what you like, what feels good or looks good or matches your life the way a nice painting matches your couch while possibly missing what you might actually need" -- than it is to buckle down and learn what you need to learn.
Beak has advice for that, too: "It all comes down to a simple, but absolutely essential reminder: As you explore, be exceptionally careful not to use spirituality as a cocktail, as just a quick high or a mere inebriating distraction. The point is to use various spiritual practices, beliefs, teachers, and even deities as self-empowering refreshers, to help you sober up for a more authentic divine connection."
So. What divine possibility is lurking in your life today -- and what will it take for you to act on that?