Recently it was holiday season here at the coast. One afternoon I watched a guy come down to the beach and quickly strip down to his bathing trunks. Only too aware of his audience, he flexed his muscles, then ran full speed down to the shoreline and dived spectacularly in to the sea. He was so caught up in the show of his own prowess that he never realized he was beyond the safe bathing beacons. It wasn’t long and it became obvious he was in trouble. Trapped in a fast flowing current he was carried out to sea. The life-savers immediately spotted him and skilfully went in and fetched him out. Suffering the humiliation of being carried out on to the beach in front of all the very people who witnessed his bravado, he quickly disappeared and wasn’t seen again.
The thought came to me of how we so easily dive in to things without proper thought, and then wonder why we find ourselves in trouble.
I’ve been grateful to some of the great architects of life who have always spoken of that little discerning space we need to keep between ourselves and all our engagements with life. They describe it as a kind of permanent little space we keep, in which we do our thinking and discerning of everything we’re about to engage in, often referred to as “keeping a contemplative distance” in all our involvements. When that space and discernment is not there, it’s possible to dive in to things without any kind of solid appraisal or discernment becoming victims of currents that should have been seen in the first place.
I think one of the beautiful things about this space is this: It’s quiet, very quiet, but there’s a “voice” in that stillness, a “voice” full of wisdom and practical know how. When it is heard and listened to, engagement and action is filled with insight and sound judgement.
Just how aware are we of this discerning space and voice? In the next post I’d like to share something of my own experience of this “voice” and its coming in the stillness.