The core of Cynthia’s challenge to us throughout the “Relearning Trust” retreat last month was to consider that there may be an alternative to hacking away at the obstacles we perceive in life. She encouraged us to consider an alternative to seeking to wrestle the untidy realities of life under control.

The other way through the forest may be to recognize that there is within us a deeper well-spring of strength, light and beauty that is always accessible when we stop resisting the present moment and allow our hearts to open to an awareness of a “more generous self that lives within us at a more subtle level.” This reality within is more real and ultimately stronger than all the obstacles we might encounter along the often difficult path we must travel.

There is a strength within every human being that makes the risky venture of trust possible. I am not to trust that there will be no obstacles or hazards along the way. The trail around Westwood Lake is rough and uneven; there are gnarly roots every step of the way, waiting to trip up the inattentive runner. But when I keep my attention focused on where my feet fall, keep my eyes open, and follow carefully the path before me, a way through the forest opens at each twist and turn in the trail. I discover a “higher intelligence that desires to work in and through” me.  And then, when a glimpse of sun peaks over the horizon, I am available to witness the splendour of creation displayed in the midst of the dark messy tangle that is an inevitable part of any life lived on this confusing horizontal plane.

How am I to find my way to this deeper awareness? What is the path to an inner knowing of strength and wisdom that I vaguely sense within?

Cynthia is clear, the way to access this strength and truth within lies along the path of the traditional spiritual practices. The way forward is found on the path of letting go, self-emptying, surrender. I will find my way when I pause, relax, enter into silence and stillness, stay present, and give my attention to this moment right here right now.

In the stillness my heart opens to the possibility that there is a luminous Presence permeating all of life, even those dark, difficult and painful moments. The call is not to resign myself to the chaos, but to stop resisting the reality of what is. I see more clearly and find my way in the forest with greater peace and strength to the degree that I trust that there is always that within me which is stronger and more enduring than anything that might feel like a painful obstacle in the path.

Cynthia’s final probing question, puts the challenge in a poetic and stirring way: “What does it mean to see Jesus as my backbone?” I need to find this divine “backbone” and trust that as I stand in the security of inner knowing, I will be able to move forward with equanimity and wisdom.

Trusting the Divine within, may not fix all the messes in the world. But opening to that deeper reality at the heart of life, enables me to meet the pain and confusion along the path from a wiser and healthier place. My choices in the face of doubt and uncertainty, will emerge with greater clarity and sanity when I start from that place within me that trusts there is light and beauty even in the midst of dark and confusion. When I travel with surrender and attention, I will fulfill my deepest function as a human being and more fully release into the universe the energy of life, love and compassion.