Some people say that everyone is our teacher and every experience offers a lesson. Perhaps, though it isn’t absolute. No matter the teacher or experience, the wisdom we seek requires an inner journey.
I discovered this truth as a young executive in Washington, D.C. when I worked with Nancy, a company vice president with a Ph.D. Initially, I thought her eccentric. While I, and many other women, wore crisp skirt suits and sensible pumps, she wore flowing skirts and ballet flats. Her desk held a cascade of files, some a foot high. Her bookshelf overflowed with volumes of scholarship she could grab at a moment’s notice. She didn’t believe in time management and was the first person I remember discussing how to manage one’s energy. A sign on her wall read: “A messy office is the sign of a clear mind.” And what a mind. When she spoke in meetings, everyone listened, and her clients adored her.
One day, as I entered her office to borrow a file, I mentioned my frustration with another V.P., who always said, “No. This is the way we do it.” All of the junior staff knew that it was her way or the highway. As Nancy handed me a file, I blurted, “I can’t figure out how to do it her way.”
Nancy looked me full in the face and said, “Then do it your way.”
I think my jaw dropped because Nancy pointed to a chair, walked to her door, closed it, and asked me to explain the project. She never gave me specific advice, though she asked several direct questions which invited me to consider my own inner wisdom. She encouraged me to honor my still, small voice, in a place where few people discussed discernment and intuition.
Nancy and I stayed friends for the rest of her life. I learned that she had been a modern dance instructor and painted in her spare time. She admitted that she had some of her clearest insights while she dabbled with paint. She encouraged me to keep practicing ballet and to return to writing. She continually reminded me that I would always know my own way, if I invested the time in listening to myself first.
Recently, I had a spiritual conference with a congregant who lamented not being able to follow someone else’s way.
I looked at a small pile of folders on my desk and thought of Nancy. “Then what if you did it your way?” I asked.
“Can I?” the congregant wondered.
“Of course,” I encouraged. “You already know the way.”
And so, Blessed Reader, do you. No matter how or where you’re traveling now, remember this spiritual truth: The power, presence, wisdom and wonder of God are both with us and within us. And when we turn within first, we also find our way.
© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.