I came across a quote recently by Wendell Berry from The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky’s Red River Gorge. He wrote, “The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground of our own feet, and learn to be at home. It is a journey we can make only by the acceptance of mystery and of mystification – by yielding to this condition that what we have expected is not there.”
Have you ever had one of those experiences that turned out to be far more then what you expected? A colleague of mine tells the story about going out to pick cranberries. She had walked this trail many times before in her life. As she tells the story, she found herself becoming tangled in her inner mind and emotions. So she gave herself permission to focus on having joy on her cranberry hunt. She let go of the daily stresses of her job and the disagreement she had with a friend earlier in the day. She replaced it with an appreciation of the moss growing on stumps, noticing the shadows and lights that shone through the trees and all of a sudden, she was caught up in the beauty of the moment. It was in this space that she discovered a tree stump, about two feet wide, upon which she was able to sit and wonder. How was it that she had never seen this stump before? Surrounded by tall grasses, she curled up on her stump and reflected on how easy it is to miss those places in our life to be supported because we are so knotted and tangled up in our inner minds that we cannot see what is before us. As she reflected on the gift she had discovered, she realized there was not just one, but two stumps, keeping each other company, supporting each other in their own journeys, and being of support to those guided their way.
How much hidden support do we have in our own lives? Life is a mystery waiting to unfold before us. As we travel that one inch of world beneath the ground of our feet, we can discover a place of creation and radiance, which lives deep within us. Each of us has those stumps, hidden supports, in our lives. We just need to learn how to see through the tangle and hunt the inner territory of our soul. Become untangled. Create the spaciousness in your soul. Open yourself up to discover the “stumps” in your life and the one-inch beneath your feet.