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Friday, May 21, 2010

Trailmarkers Toward a More Meaningful Life

“What does this mean?”  might just be my favorite question.   (Not counting “Would you like a second scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby?”)

Life moves quickly.  We are bombarded with experiences, conversations, interactions, feelings and images.  Most of those are just life coming at us—we cannot take them all in and ponder the meaning of each and every thing that happens.  But some of those experiences are like trailmarkers to something deeper, something meaningful.  They are clues toward a life of greater significance and integrity.

Steve was talking with a few of us.  In a fairly routine way, he mentioned his wife.  Suddenly he got choked up, caught off guard by his emotion.  Steve wondered what that was all about.

Mary is tired again today.  Maybe she has a low grade virus, or maybe her body is telling her something else—She wonders what her fatigue means?

Jose went in to his favorite small bookstore yesterday and had a casual conversation with Bill the owner.   While talking, Bill revealed something about himself that Jose didn’t know before.  Jose felt like they connected in some small way, and he walked away more energized by the conversation.  Why did that conversation feel meaningful?

This Sunday the Christian church marks an event called Pentecost.  In the story found in Acts 2, a wild and crazy event happens to a group of people who have gathered for a religious festival. Nobody knows exactly what is going on.  While it is a more dramatic happening than what most of us experience in our daily lives, the question they ask is the same:  What does this mean?

 One of the keys to a deeper inner life is a willingness to slow down long enough to ask this question about the experiences we have.  In some cases, the conversation/experience/dream/feeling might not mean much at all. Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and for us sometimes that feeling in our gut is just last night’s burrito.  It may not mean anything more than that.

Or not.  In speaking about these kinds of questions, Barbara Brown Taylor writes:

Most of my visions of the divine have happened while I was busy doing something else….My only part is to decide how I will respond, since there is plenty I can do to make them go away, namely:  1)  I can figure that I have had too much caffeine again; 2) I can remind myself that visions are not true in the same way that taxes and the evening news are true; or 3)  I can return my attention to everything I need to get done today.  These are only a few of the things I can do to talk myself out of living in the House of God. 
Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World

Have you come across any trailmarkers lately?

Doug Wysockey-Johnson
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  1. Trailmarkers - I like the concept. In my voluteer work, I am absolutely amazed when another person shares something deep and poignant. I learned to slow down and listen to the person. In each case the connection or relationship deepen. A friendship with a spark of the Divine was formed. I'd call these experiences trailmarkers. In time I notice that the others are in my life in a very deep type of friendship...different from casual friends. I can't explain it... I take it as a gift.

  2. First let me say that I really enjoy your weekly postings. I feel much more connected to your organization than before this website.

    As to the article above, I use to bowl on a Friday afternoon but have recently quit to go out to lunch with my wife. (We are both 60+ and still have good health. We know many widows and widowers, and count ourselves fortunate to still have each other and our good health as well. Bill Morgan

  3. Bill--Nice to hear you are still dating at 60!

  4. As a practitioner of Healing Touch/Reikii I am increasingly aware of how another person's energy/aura contributes to my own well being or lack thereof. The stories shared, I believe, reflect this very meaningfully.

  5. Not only did I just get an important trail marker - it seems to have come with devine timing. Just as this post did - refering to trails etc... As a decendant of William Clark - I've often likened my journey into the spiritual world to the Expidition out West. West is also the direction known for transformation so it only seemed appropriate. I've had a series of signs...referring directly to William Clark, over the last few weeks. I also participated in a global meditation with like minded trailblazers, first of it's kind for this particular group of healers, and it Turns out it started on the same day the Lewis and Clark expedition started - May 14, (2004). So when I asked myself the question "What does this mean?" - I believe I am about to embark on an incredible journey into the unknown! If I keep my eyes open to the signposts - maybe the journey will lead me all the way back home! Maybe some of you will be on the same path? happy Trails!

  6. One day I read this quote:

    Work will stop for the rainbow, but the rainbow won't stop for the work.

    A day later, just as I was Very Busy with Something, I saw a huge rainbow across the way. The quote leaped into my mind,I stopped being Very Busy with Something, and just stood watching as the rainbow grew in intensity and size with the heavily fir forested mountains as backdrop. It only lasted maybe a minute or two, but I didn't miss it, and went back to what I was doing feeling like I had been given a benediction.

  7. On a recent trip on an airplane I was seated by a woman going to see her mother who had been suffering from some repeated infections and had taken many kinds of antibiotics. Her mother still felt bad and was depressed. Having recently been cured of a systemic yeast infection with a yeast cleansing diet and prescirbed nystatin, I shred this information with my seatmate. The antibiotics I had taken after surgery had caused my overgrowth of yeast. I think we were assigned those seats on purpose so we could help each other. I would never have told her of my experience if I had not taken time to listen to her story.

  8. "The place God calls you to is the place your deep joy and the world's deep hunger meet."
    Frederick Bruechner

    All my life I've been surrounded by people in the throes of addiction, and I've watched the people I loved most in the world die from the use of substances that had taken over their lives. Today, I am a nurse on a detox unit. I am so blessed to be in a place where I see people in the process of changing their direction; the most powerful moments we share are those in which new trailmarkers are identified and followed. Life is so rich with them!

  9. Thank you all for these great stories of trailmarkers. It confirms my suspicion that there are way more markers out there, if we only take the time to stop and look. And here is the great thing--when one person shares a story, it helps the rest of us be more aware and awake at the same time.

  10. Hub here
    I got sober in 1972. I was angry at the world. Through A A and Norman Vincent Peale I learned that the Golden Rule is the best way to live. Thirty Eight years later it is still the best way. When I don't live by it usually something bad happens to me. Or if I try and take advantage of someone it always backfires. I started a handyman service when I retires 9 years ago. The greatest joy I get is helping the older folks and giving them someone they can trust and talk to. When I give of myself I get much back.