Finding our way

The Aral Sea

The faint outline is the shoreline of the Aral Sea in 1960 while the dark areas (top left) indicate the reduced size of the Aral Sea by 2009. It has shrunk some 250 km.

Some of you will know that when it comes to directions — I need a little help. In fact, I need a lot of help. I am sure that I could make a significant reduction to the world’s carbon emissions if I didn’t get so lost.

Before I came to Cape Town my brothers gave me a GPS to help me find my way around. This has definitely helped me, although I fear I have become over-reliant on it.

This past week I was in Wellington where I was facilitating a workshop on conflict resolution with colleagues. On my way home I had a real sense that I knew the way but I plugged in the GPS nevertheless. At one point the GPS was telling me to turn right but I was pretty certain that home was to my left. And despite me knowing my history of having no sense of direction it took everything in me to humbly go in the direction that the GPS was telling me to go. So I betrayed all my natural inclinations and turned right — and what felt like a mistake was actually correct.

This experience made me think of the Covenant Prayer that we pray at the beginning of each year:

“Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honour, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves…”

It was good to be reminded that it is in my best interest to sometimes go against my natural inclinations.

I am aware that this illustration is simplistic and that it is not always so easy to discern God’s voice as it is to hear the voice of the GPS. It may take time to discern, and quite often we will need the help of others to do so. For this reason we would do well to seek out a spiritual director/mentor/coach/counsellor to share the journey of our life with. Over time as they get to know us they may be able to help us to hear the directions to help us find our way home.

In Peace, Alan

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