Chapter 5: The Gift of Getting Lost

Chapter 5: The Gift of Getting Lost

This Chapter will be the subject of the March 9 meeting in the Buxton Room – 7-8pm.

Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by greater and greater beings. —Rainer Maria Rilke (1875– 1926)
It is a simple statement – we learn from the hard times.  And a corollary to this, hard times will come, over and over again – they are part of life.  In illustrating the peaks and valleys of life’s path, Elnes uses the analogy of airline travel.  Although sometimes there is a direct path (flight) to where we need to go, more likely, there will be a circuitous  route, and we might even have to travel in the opposite direction at first in order to get where we are ultimately going.

So, being lost is inevitable.  But what are we supposed to do when we are lost?  Elnes refers to a description of being lost in a poem of the same name by David Wagoner, available in audio format here.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

“Lost,” by David Wagoner from Collected Poems 1956-1976 © Indiana University Press.

What happens when we resist the lost times?  When we fight against the flow of trouble?  How can we change our orientation so that we “stand still” rather than resist?  Elnes uses the example of Bruce Almighty‘s repeated calls out to God for help & his repeated ignoring of signs that should be abundantly obvious to him.  It is humorous in the film, and very much less so when in our own lives we bristle against the hard times & blind ourselves to their instruction.  We call “give me a signal, give me a sign” & then we are blind to their presence!

According to Elnes, “…when I’ve lost both my way and my grounding that the trees around me are not lost. My best way forward will most likely be found if I will just stand still and let The Unexpected Love find me.”  Can you recall a time in your own life where you continually pushed back at the hard times rather than stand still?

What tools can we use to help us “stand still” during troubled times?  Focused prayer?  What else might help us hear the word of God at our lowest points?

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Posted on

February 12, 2016

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