The Aborigines of Australia had a practice of going on a walkabout to discover truth. They would embark on a hike with an unknown destination and unknown duration. The journey would end when they found the truth.
I have been on such a walkabout recently. I grew impatient with platitudes and trite answers to complex problems. There are real answers out there and I set out to explore many sources to find the truths that I sought.
It would start simply enough, but ultimately it would have a profound impact on the course my life would take. My spouse had been studying the practices of dead saints and was going to embark on an eight-week adventure to learn and grow. Fearing looking like a slacker, I decided to play along. And so it begins ...
In preparation of the spiritual adventure, I began to ask the critical question, “What do I most want from this experience?”. I have taken many personal retreats over the years and it has become a regular habit for me. These times of focused introspection allow me to process life events and give me understanding for unresolved issues of pain. But this opportunity somehow felt like it was going to be different.
Perhaps I am finally ready to deal with some fundamental issues that I have been dancing around for years. This is my chance to gain true understanding of my purpose for being. During the next few weeks I would seek to understand the meaning of life, at least, the meaning of my life.
Self determination will take us a long way. Much of our happiness is determined by the choices that we make and how those are converted into words and actions. I believe that the human will is largely responsible for determining our quality of life.
But there is clearly a limitation to what we can control. There are circumstances that are beyond our control. People that focus on controlling every facet of life tend to be the least able to accept reality. We cannot believe that anything could be outside of our control, so it causes us to try even harder.
With control-freaks every crisis of circumstance also produces a personal crisis of belief. Our world view falls apart and this causes a breakdown on an emotional level. A time of crisis reveals our false thinking about life itself.
I tend to think about personal growth the same way that I think about everything else in my life. You select a goal that is worthy of the effort; you create a plan with a list of milestones and steps; you measure progress against the plan and make adjustments.
This whole scenario assumes that everything lies within my control. As a control freak, this is an easy fallacy to embrace, but reality does not agree. When it comes to my personal growth I cannot control the path it will take. But perhaps, even more importantly, I do not know the appropriate destination.
I am learning that moving in a good direction is all that is truly needed. Although the destination is unknown, the direction of the ultimate destiny is fully known. Therefore, each day should carry me a little closer to where I need to be. It really is about the journey itself.
I am not on a march to a known destination, because the ultimate destination is yet to be discovered. Therefore plotting a fast path to some random destiny is a fool’s errand. Many of my past efforts at spiritual growth have suffered from this flaw.
Starting with the belief that I know where I am headed makes me blind to other destinations that could be far better. It also mutes the voice of the Spirit of God. I’m tired of marching off on adventures only to run deaf and blind to a place that I really don’t want to be.
Personal effort does count in spiritual growth, just not when it comes to
controlling the outcome. There are two things that are under my control that
will determine my success: Time and Honesty. I can devote time and energy to
pursue my personal development. In fact, little growth will happen without it.
It also takes a tremendous amount of courage to honestly accept my own flaws and
admit my sin. Without courage I will spend my energy justifying the unjustifiable.
Game over ... go home now!
Why call it a Spiritual Walkabout? The original thought was to describe it as a Spiritual Journey or use the archaic term, Pilgrimage. But the term Walkabout truly reinforces the idea that I do not know where I am going. I truly am embarking on a journey of discovery where the destination and path are both unknown.
I am confident that as I walk about randomly that I will find interesting things out about myself. Ultimately I do believe that I will learn what my destiny is ... I just cannot say at the outset what that will be. Consider joining me on your own version of the Spiritual Walkabout.
In preparation for practicing these ancient spiritual exercises, I needed to grapple with my exceptions of the experience. What one key thing am I hoping to learn? What one big insight would make the greatest difference in my life? What burning question has gone unanswered for years?
Here are a list of questions that I pondered
These may actually all be dimensions of the same question. The ultimate question is really, "What is the meaning of life?”. This question is both audacious and at the same time useful. It is audacious because it is outrageous that I could find an answer. It is useful because knowing my purpose is what makes me want to get out of bed each day.
What is the meaning of my life? This will be different (but related) to the meaning that other people will find. You need your own Spiritual Walkabout to grow your understanding of meaning. I am sharing my journey in hopes that it may inspire you to ask the same questions and come to your own unique answers.
Writing is how I best process things. I can avoid the social anxiety of a conversation. Writing frees me to think through problems while avoiding the social pressure to build relationship with a live human. I am able to be far more honest than when I interact with a person.
No one is scrutinizing and weighing my words and body language, so I feel free of the burdens of social interaction. I also feel less compelled to adjust my message to match what the other person wants to hear. When I write there is no pressure to look good and I have the energy to deal with the problem at hand. After all, I’m just talking to piece of paper.
For this journal to have value to me or anyone else it must reflect the true work God is doing in my life. I intend for this to be an honest accounting of my journey to understand and embrace his work.
I do not to want to whitewash the issues that I struggle with or act like the work is complete. I want to write about the raw truth and continue editing it until it is in a form that might be useful to others. The end result should be a journal of one man's struggle to embrace truth.
Someday I may share this journal but for now this is all mine. This journal will be as honest as I can make it, knowing that I can take out the juicy bits later, if desired. This knowledge gives me freedom to be absolutely honest at all times. This journal is an unedited copy of my Spiritual Walkabout and the discoveries made along the way.