A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I were in Avila Beach on one of those “death is nowhere in the background” kind of days when the ocean and sky teach you the beauty of the color blue, the sun shines specifically to warm you, and an infusion of sweetness permeates the day in some way you can’t quite put your finger on.
I arrived first and went down to the water. From there, I could see much of the beach and most of the entrances from the embarcadero above. We were texting back and forth, and Mom was trying to figure out which entrance to take and where I was standing. “Just come down and I’ll find you,” I told her. I knew I would see her no matter which route she took, but from where she stood, there was no way to understand the breadth of my view.
I wonder whether God is often saying this to us and we aren’t listening. We are worrying about which way to go or what to do because we think only one way will lead to God or happiness or wherever we are supposed to be. Maybe all we have to do is set out toward the divine and it will come rushing to meet us, like the father in the story of the prodigal son. We don’t have to figure it out because God can see the whole picture, and we can’t.
I told mom to take the stairs closest to her. Many teachers tell us to stick with the spiritual tradition we grew up with, as long as it wasn’t too harmful. Maybe that’s because it’s the closest staircase, the easiest way to head in God’s direction.
Maybe, when we stop trying to figure out where to go, we’ll discover we’re already there.
Note: The quotation “death is nowhere in the background” is a slight adaptation of a line in the poem “From Blossoms” by Li Young Lee.