Recently, I was out in Seattle with my husband visiting my daughter. One day the three of us took a trip over to the majestic old growth forests of the Olympic Peninsula where we hiked for the day. As we were going along, and I was thinking my thoughts, my mind turned towards the book I have written, and am working on getting published. This is such an out of my league venture. It is one for which I have no past experience, nor some of the skills that will be required to make this happen. It is something I cannot figure out with just the rational mind. Therefore, I decided to put it out to the trail by asking for some kind of guidance or clue as to how I should proceed.
I walked for a very long time open to some sign along the trail that would give me information about what to do, or what to expect. Nothing. Only, it wasn’t nothing. On my way back down, when I wasn’t struggling so much to go up, I saw that the whole hike had been symbolic of what I am venturing into, what I already possess, and some instructions on how to proceed.
I saw that the hike up had been one where I did not know where I was going, having never been there before, nor possessing a map or given any markers along the trail to indicate my whereabouts. I saw how though the trail had been very strenuous, I was able to meet it. I saw that I was traveling in the company of those that loved and supported me. And I saw that I was in the presence of great beauty and a face of the mystery I had never encountered before.
All of this, every bit of it, was the guidance I had asked for. And it had been reflected back to me by the steep trail, the forest surrounding me, the company I was in, and my own efforts. I realized in that moment that though I was entering unknown territory, I would be able to meet it, I would be held by good company, and I would be known and supported by Something more than me.
So often in life, we are up against times for which we have no prior experience or knowledge on how to proceed. Or what it is going to ask of us. It could be a relationship struggle. A health challenge. An inner emotional turmoil from the past. Or all of those things in life for which there seems to be no possibility of changing what is happening.
But through it all, there is guidance. And it is everywhere we look. Try it. Hold a question in your mind of something you need help with. Be as open as you can as you move through your day. Notice what shows up. Maybe a bird flies by at a particular moment. Maybe the clouds take a particular shape. Maybe you have an encounter with an animal. Many traditions refer to this way of knowing as divination: the art and practice of discovering hidden knowledge by interpreting signs.
This way of knowing is not just for those with special skills. It is not just the sphere of children’s fairly tales or fantastical movies. Nor is it relegated to the domain of those “simple,” naive people who have no other choice; lacking, as they do, scientific or rationale ways of knowing about the world. In fact, it is a birthright of every human being to be able to tap into what we are inseparably a part of, and to make use of that as a way of being in the world in fuller and more supported ways.
“All” it takes is openness and some practice. You can even keep your skepticism. For when that information hits you, it will land so completely in every single part of you, that you will be left wanting more. And as they say, skeptics often make for the most faithful of converts.