Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reach for the Stars...and Touch Them

I've traveled many miles and lived through many lifetimes since I wrote this piece four years ago. But the story it tells and the message it imparts remain as relevant to me today as they were back in September 2008. 

"With all there is
Why settle for just a piece of sky?"
~ from the score of the film Yentl

Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008 ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

I'm walking on a nature trail in Albuquerque's Sandia Mountain foothills, the late-day sun gilding the granite outcroppings and illuminating the sage, cactus and juniper.

This is one of my final farewell walks in a landscape that has so nurtured and inspired me.

You see, in five days I will be gone from here, launched yet again on an open-ended, Spirit-directed odyssey into the unknown and unimagined -- my third such journey of faith in the past 11 years.

My first, in 1997, opened me to marriage, parenthood and life in a new country. The second, which spanned 30 months and was sparked by the end of that marriage, led to my first two books and CD and kindled for me a more empowered professionalism. Both journeys pushed and expanded me, challenging me to surrender more fully to the divine imperative that directs and prospers me -- when I let it.

In each case, I knew nothing of what lay head. I simply stepped off the cliff of my certainty and into the void from which all creation emerges.

Was I afraid? Sometimes.

Did I allow that fear to stand in my way? Rarely, and never for long.

As I think ahead to what's next, this lyric from Osibisa's song "Woyaya" plays in my head:

We are going
Heaven knows where we are going
We'll know we're there
We will get there
Heaven knows how we will get there
We know we will

I'm also reminded of the scene in The MoonQuest where Toshar and his three companions must step through an opening that will carry them "beyond the end of the known world."

Dense smoke chokes them where they stand as the jungle through which they have trekked burns up. There is no way back.

The only way is forward -- into the unknown, with its challenges and opportunities. With its secrets and mysteries. With gifts more wondrous and miracle-filled than any they could imagine.

When I left Toronto in 1997, the only direction I had from my GPS (God Positioning System) was to head west. Ultimately, it landed me in a new life in Sedona, Arizona.

When I left Sedona seven years and a Hawaii sojourn later, my GPS also sent me west -- at first. In the many months of cross-country travel that followed, I always managed to find my way back to the New Mexico that has been my full-time home for the past year.

Now, as I prepare to leave Albuquerque, my divine compass points eastward, directing me to the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas.

I've felt pulled toward the home of National Public Radio's StarDate since August, when I knew I would be returning to the road.

It was a mystifying pull because, as stunning as is the observatory's setting and as fascinating as is its planetarium show, I've been there -- twice -- and never experienced any life-altering epiphanies.

At a conscious level, at least, it was a fun place to visit. Nothing more.

Yet if I've learned anything through my years of personal and spiritual growth, it's the importance of surrendering to the highest imperative I can access in any given moment. (There's a reason why the word "surrender" appears 67 times in The Voice of the Muse!) Like Toshar and his friends, I too must surrender to whatever lies beyond the end of my known world and be open to all the wonders that await me on the other side.

And so, if that highest imperative is sending me back to southwest Texas, I'll go -- whatever it means.

I've asked what it means countless times in recent weeks. Today, on my Sandia walk, I ask again.

For the first time, I hear an answer: "To remind you to reach for the stars."

Now, as I write these words, that same inner voice adds: "Reach for the stars...and touch them."

We all need reminders to reach for the stars, that potent metaphor for our highest, most divine potential. In these challenging, turbulent times, we also need to be reminded that those stars are not beyond our grasp. We can touch them. All it takes is a hand, outstretched to the infinite...the infinite we already are.

• Discover how this journey (and many others) unfolded in my new memoir, Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Memoir, available exclusively for Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iBook

"Reach for the Stars...and Touch Them" originally appeared on my now-dormant New Earth Chronicles blogClick here to read the original post and its comments

Image Credits: Detail from the working poster for The StarQuest Movie by Richard Crookes. Photos by Mark David Gerson: #1 Sandia Foothills, Albuquerque, NM; #2 From the McDonald Observatory, near Fort Davis, TX

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