Friday, March 4, 2011

Springtime in the Central Valley: my Spiritual GPS

Today I've been driving up through the Central Valley of California during the special time when almond and cherry trees are in blossom, just as they were when the picture above was taken. What a glorious sight it is to see these trees in their resplendent spring prime---like ballerinas dancing in the wind as I speed past them.

I feel fortunate and blessed to see this sight since the trees are decked out in their white and pink tutus for a very short period of time. Kathleen and I saw this amazing scene only once--exactly two years ago when she and I drove through the Central Valley to pay a surprise visit on her brother Jim. The picture of me in my blog was taken by Kathleen during this trip.

Looking at this dazzling array of splendiferous trees, I couldn't help thinking of Kathleen and the many wonderful road trips we took together--beginning with the first one we took while we were students at Pendle Hill. We decided to travel together on spring break to Duke University, where Kathleen earned her Masters degree in Divinity. As we were about to embark on our first of many adventures, I decided to "lay down the law."

"Couples often have conflicts on road trips like this," I told her. "I just want you to know if we have a disagreement, YOU ARE RIGHT."

We both laughed, and that became a guiding principle of our marriage. I never needed to point out when Kathleen made a mistake--she was such a perfectionist she saw her mistakes much sooner and more clearly than I did. Like many men, I was the one who sometimes needed to have my mistakes pointed out to me, and she did this so gently and lovingly I usually didn't mind.

The only area of our marriage where we "pinched" each other was when we were traveling to new places and Kathleen had to consult a map and give directions. Sometimes she was (dare I say it?) mistaken, or (more often) I misheard her, and we missed a connection. She usually didn't criticize me, but I could feel her disappointment or annoyance in her silence, or perhaps a sigh.

It was a great boon to our marriage when we bought a GPS so we could make our big trek across country. (A trip, alas! we never made together.) Once we had a GPS, Kathleen was relieved of the responsibility of navigating and would sit quietly knitting as "Maggie" (our GPS) guided me with unfailing accuracy.

Focused only on helping me to find the best route, "Maggie" was never disappointed or annoyed when I made a mistake. She simply said, "Calculating the route."

Maggie  is so non-judgmental that I even compared my GPS to the "Inward Voice" that comes from the Divine. If we hear an inward voice that chastises us, it probably isn't God's voice--it's the internalized voice of our parents or teachers. The "still, small voice"  of our Divine Navigator is like a GPS--calm and interested in only one thing: helping us to get back on the right road.

I smile as I think of all the trips Kathleen and I took together, and feel as if she has become my spiritual GPS. Her quiet, gentle, loving voice is now inside me, giving me the guidance I need when I take the wrong road or stray from the path.

Thanks to her, I can now even help others to connect with their inner GPS.

Thank you, God, for keeping me in touch with my Divine Navigator!


Last night I dreamed I was in a church sitting in the front row with a lot of homeless people. When I looked up, Kathleen was preaching and her face was radiant--blazing with light. I turned around the church was filled with people. I don't often dream of Kathleen, so this dream seems significant, though what it means exactly I cannot say for sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment