Whether we realize it or not, we spend a lot of our lives looking for role models, mentors, teachers, and spiritual guides to assist us on our journey through life. Often this is complicated further by the events of our childhood, i.e., if we lacked a strong father figure as a child, we look for that in others when we are adults. There isn’t anything wrong that doing this, and in fact, finding the right person at the right time can really help us grow. However, it is important to realize that in the absence of such a figure, we can very safely rely upon ourselves—or more specifically, the Christ who dwells within us. We carry within us everything we need to get through this life, to know how to make wise choices, and to make progress on our return journey back into God. As I’ve said before, the outer world often serves as a mirror to what is going on within ourselves. To use another metaphor, our inner spiritual connection to God has a magnetic force that draws to us exactly what we need to grow and evolve to the next level. We already have all we need, so we need to release the mistaken belief that unless we’re frantically searching we will never find what we are looking for.
The path of the Spirit is sometimes seen as searching for something far outside ourselves, almost like Ponce de Leon searching for the fountain of youth. In this modality, we are searching for something we want but do not possess, and we are convinced that when we find it we can finally be happy and at peace. Think about wanting that Malibu Barbie when you were a young girl, or the video game you just had to have when you were a young boy. Getting what we think we need only makes us happy for a short while, and then the happiness passes until a new object of desire presents itself. That is the difference between happiness and joy: joy is a permanent aspect of our inner selves and is not separate from us at any point. We do not have to travel to find it or imagine that it resides only in places of people outside ourselves. In fact, this is precisely what Jesus teaches us when he reminds us that the Kingdom of God is within us.
So when we find ourselves on our path, not knowing which way to turn and wishing for guidance, we can turn to the Christ-presence within. This is the enduring gift of our baptism in Christ, to be His body and sacred Presence in this time and place. We may not know the right answer rationally or intellectually, but if we simply ask, let go, and wait patiently, an answer will come. The more we practice this and trust this process, the less we will look outside ourselves for answers and come to a deep level of peace.
Wishing you a Lent full of sweet surrender,