Next Steps

I returned from another trip to Colorado recently. This one wrapped up a short lived chapter of life where I said goodbye to a home, graciously shared by its owners, that brought me much refuge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although bitter sweet, I said my thank you and good byes while this sunrise bathed me as I drove away. In that 2,000+ mile road trip I’ve done countless times, I realized lots of things are now wrapping up for me prompting an inundation of thought about next steps. (The word thought might best be substituted with stress, however.).

For nearly three years now I’ve had clear direction and sights set on one thing, graduating with my Master’s degree. That time is quickly approaching and it feels as daunting as it did when I first entered the program. But it’s a different daunting. This is filled with the sentiment of “now what?!” and “Oh my God, I don’t know!”

I’m a person who feels most comfortable with a plan, a timeline, and a structure … knowing what’s coming next. For the first time in my life, it seems, I find myself wrestling with a challenging level of discomfort – the discomfort with “I don’t know, and it’s ok that I don’t know.” It’s exciting to not have a plan, but it sure feels disorientating.

These words from poet Dorothy Walters assure me an invitation comes and my job now is simply to be still and be prepared for the soft whisper.

How about you… When do you feel comfortable? What brings you discomfort? How do you sit with those feelings? What brings you assurance?

There will be an invitation.
It will not come tied in ribbons
nor a message streaming down
from the sky.

There will be no Roman candles
nor brilliant colors
exploding overhead.

Instead there will be a soft
whisper in your ear,
something in a language
you once knew
and are trying to learn again.

In order to hear it,
you will need to
put down all your packages,
stop everything you are doing
and stand very still
then wait …
until something stirs inside.

Dorothy Walters, “A Language You Once Knew”
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