I recently began reading a nonfiction book titled Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling. A passage from the Prologue winked at me...
Experts in the field of direction talk about the difference between way keeping, which is simply the ability to stick to a certain path, following well-marked landmarks and signposts, and wayfinding, what you do when you must rely on yourself, your reading of the landscape and the decisions only you can make. We start out in life learning the first; with luck we end up knowing something of the latter, to the extent that accident and blessing give us choice. Perhaps in the end that is what wayfinding amounts to: learning how to allow for accident, and make way for blessing.
For me, college was all about way keeping-: go to class and mass, pass exams, intern in my field, partake in extracurricular activities, eat right and exercise, make friends, and... graduate. Graduation meant that I had stepped over the line separating a familiar, well-marked path into a field where I was to cultivate my own. Exciting? You betcha! Nerve-racking? Of course. Now, with just over a year having passed since tossing my cap, I have come to find that wayfinding through the “real world” is more of a blessing than I could have ever imagined.
Wayfinding has such a challenging, humbling, and empowering freedom to it. It challenges me to allow accidents and blessings to cultivate my humility, which empowers me to keep on my way.
One such accidental blessing occurred the weekend after graduation. I had been thinking of applying to become a Eucharistic minister at my parish once arriving home but was procrastinating and making up excuses concerning my unworthiness and busy schedule. The devil was all up in my business encouraging these thoughts until the Lord called me out at the end of mass at a nearby hospital. The hospital chaplain announced that they were in desperate need of Eucharistic ministers on Sunday mornings... my ONLY free time of the week. I looked around shocked and expecting Jesus to be in a back pew lovingly chuckling at me. “Good one, Lord,” I said as I shook my head while filling out an application.
I cannot overstate how fortunate I am to have accidentally stumbled upon such an opportunity. Stepping into the room of each patient is a crossing of my path with another’s. I laugh with, console, listen to, and pray with my brother and sister Catholics, who I may never see again in this life. Our ways become one for a moment in time, and who is the one to overlap these paths but the Way Himself, Jesus Christ.
Wayfinding is a choice, a vulnerable and risky decision to journey into life’s unknown territory: the future. Jesus wants us to invite Him to partake in this adventure with us. When we accidentally stumble into opportunities where Jesus wishes to bless and empower us, we must boldly accept His invitation and know that He will never lead us astray. After all, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Light... thank God! So, where to next, Lord?