Green grass is emerging through pockmarks in the dank, sullied snow. City streets are awash with ice-cold water and slush. Drops of rain wriggle down the window pane as the wind howls and roars. Outside trees buckle and flex in the chaos of the equinoxal gale.
Your Calling Can Be Hard To Hear
(amid all the hurly burley that goes on in your head)
Our calling can be hard to hear among the many thoughts and images whirling in our minds. Inner guidance is not intellectual. It is not a clever argument or astute questioning (although it may respond to astute questioning from time to time). The call is from our whole being. Inner guidance therefore is a feeling, an image or a thought, the slightest hint of a direction or a suggestion. The call needs to be sensed, rather like tuning our radio to a station that is difficult to receive. There can be lots of crackle and interference.
How do we know the impressions we are receiving are from our being and are guided from within? We know, because senses and directions given to us from this source are suffused with peace and help us to grow spiritually. With peace as our guide, we can be assured that these gentle promptings will be both in our own highest interests as well as in the highest interests of all those involved.
How can we best develop our ability to receive these gentle promptings? We need to cultivate silence, silence and still more silence. It is nearly impossible to tune in to our being amid all the frantic activity that passes for modern life - so to listen to inner guidance we need to cultivate periods of both outer and inner quiet. These periods will reveal the gentle inner promptings of our heart.
This does not mean we have to become monks or hermits, although we may wish to sometimes. What we need are some periods, however infrequent, to stop and listen. Inner guidance is always there. It is our best friend. I have made it my own life's purpose to fall in love with the call. In time you may wish to do the same.
I remember the first time I consciously listened to my inner guidance - I was a 23-year-old architecture student in the fourth year of my course at university. We had been given a very tough problem for architectural students to solve. Working in teams of four, we had been asked to design a complete extension to a city in England. This was a real project. We were being asked to use this project as a design exercise that would teach us town-planning skills.
In those days I was a rather supercilious young man and imagined I was a cut above the rest in terms of my design talents, since I thought I was a prise well worth having. I decided to hang back when the teams were being selected and wait for a team to pick me. I was asked to join a team of very good designers. I thought my number had come up! Now I was going to show them what I could do.
We had only ten weeks to complete the task including the design drawings, so there was no time for hanging around. I was sure I could lead the team well enough for us to get an A grade. I was proud of my abilities. At the first team meeting we set to work, but soon sensed that something was going seriously wrong. All four team members were headstrong - each one of us had great confidence in his own opinion and each was sure of he was right. However, as our opinions were often pulling in opposite directions, we fought and squabbled continually about whose ideas were best. I considered myself the best designer and of course preferred my ideas.
The result was a mixture of bitterness, recrimination and animosity. My dream of getting an A grade was turning into a shambles. At lunchtime one day I confided our group's problem to one of my close friends who was an architecture student in the same year doing the same project in another group. He admitted that his group had exactly the same problem. Interestingly I discovered that members of every design group were being antagonistic.
Time was running out. We began to get desperate. There was two weeks left to work on the project and we still had not produced a single design drawing. The closer we came to the deadline the harder we fought one another. I could feel the spectre of failure looming over the horizon. One morning I awoke and could not face going in to do battle yet another day.
I walked across my student bedroom. The late November frost was on the grass outside and cars were speeding by on the busy main road. Gazing absentmindedly at the early morning sun, as it hovered motionless above an indented red brick skyline, I admitted I was a beaten man and did not know how to solve the design problem with my team. I admitted I needed help. Falling silent, I began to listen to my feelings inside and began to sense what I needed to do.
My inner guidance revealed that I was worn out and I felt drawn to take care of myself. I knew I needed a break. Thoughts that were not my calling - thoughts motivated by fear - told me that if I took a break at this late stage in the project, the other members of my team would be very angry. I decided not to listen to these thoughts but instead listened to my inner guidance, which I knew was suffused in peace and had my best interests at heart. I took the break I needed.
That afternoon I wandered through the university campus. I was lost, simply walking, did not know why I was wandering. My intuition was suggesting that I walk around the campus and I was following its gentle inner promptings. I ambled through the science area, along the majestic paved pedestrian plaza, past the science library, up the grassy hill with its leafless birch trees towards the student's union.
Following the path behind the student's union, I wandered into the main university library, not really knowing why I was there, and stopped - transfixed. A book title simply jumped out at me. It was Carl Rogers book entitled, "On Becoming a Person."
I took the book down from the shelf and studied it. It contained information on interpersonal communication that helped me understand how to bring unity to our divided group. I took the book back to my bedroom and read it cover to cover in three days and found it contained exactly what I needed to know to have our team work together in harmony. I realized we were all working for our own ends and that we were not pulling together as a team because no one was working for the group. We were all being extraordinarily self-concerned.
After reading the book I resolved to return to my group armed with a new understanding and a bit more humility about the best role I could play in the creative process. I resolved to be the one person in the group who would work for the group and became committed to creating ideas that would link together other ideas put forward by group members.
Having been away for two days, I walked into the group meeting, to receive a barrage of abuse. I was accused of being a lazy layabout and was threatened with expulsion. I said nothing. In time the abuse ceased and we began work. As conflicts arose I acted as the peacemaker by creating linkages between different ideas. Immediately the atmosphere changed. The creativity began to flow. We had produced our first drawing by lunchtime. We all sensed something important was happening.
Over the course of the next two weeks an abundance of elegant drawings were mounted around the walls of our room. My friend walked in one day by mistake. He must have sensed the atmosphere of harmony and abundant creativity, because at lunchtime he asked me how our group was doing so well when all the others were in chaos. I tried to explain.
When the projects were handed in and assessed, our group came top of the class with the A grade I had always wanted, but achieved by a totally unforeseen approach. I was a changed person. Ever since then, I have always been able to bring harmony and unity to any group of people with whom I have been involved. All this happened because I listened to my inner guidance. This is the power of the inner call.
Next time you are discussing a difficult problem with a group of people, try being the facilitator. Give-up your own particular viewpoint and focus instead on finding the viewpoint that unites all those present by becoming detached from the passions of the various arguments put forward. From this place of inner calm listen within for ideas you can contribute that knit together other people's disparate ideas. You may be surprised at the influence you wield when you start working for everyone else!
The above true story has all the ingredients for learning to hear inner guidance. There was an admission of my own inadequacy to deal with the situation. I became silent outwardly and inwardly. In that silence I listened for the gentle promptings from my being, like a beautiful radiant swan deep within. Finally I was able to discriminate between the gentle promptings suffused in peace given to me intuitively, and other unhealthy thoughts and feelings suffused in fear.
I am so busy.
I am so concerned to achieve.
I am so pre-occupied.
I am so stressed.
No wonder I am deaf to the call.
You are always there, but I do not hear you.
But I can learn.
I can learn to be less busy.
I can learn to give up striving.
I can learn not to be so pre-occupied.
I can learn to relax.
I can learn to seek help from my calling.
When my mind is still I will hear.
When I take time to listen I will hear.
When I admit I need help I will hear.
There is no problem my calling cannot solve.
There is no confusion my calling cannot clarify.
There is no answer my calling cannot find.
Being still, I learn to listen.