Thursday, January 10, 2013

I, Explorer

“We shall not cease from exploration;
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

from “Four Quartets”
-T.S. Eliot

My friend Julie loaned me two books today; one is called “Creative Awakenings:  Envisioning the Life of Your Dreams Through Art”. This quote was part of a “travel tip” about leaping into voids without a parachute. In other words, just going for it when it comes to art.

Like all good quotes, it has many layers of meaning, which means it will quickly become one of my favorites. It was taken from one of four poems, which make up the “Four Quartets”, and which you can read here. I know there aren’t many people who enjoy poetry anymore, especially when it was written almost seventy years ago. However, I would definitely recommend reading these four poems. A few tips to make it a more enjoyable and meaningful experience:

1. Read out loud, slowly.
2. Don’t pause at the end of a line, but rather at the end of a sentence, meaning read until you reach an end mark (period, question mark, etc).
3. Stop at the end of each sentence, or stanza, and let the images float around in your mind, forming a picture – you may be surprised what surfaces!
4. Most importantly, go into the experience with an open mind, no expectations.

Now back to the quote. It’s comforting to me to think that I will “not cease from exploration”. I have always loved the idea of my life as a journey; this metaphor of travel and exploration, of discovery and adventure stirs something deep inside all of us. Our God, after all, created us to long for and enjoy these things. It’s up to each one of us individually to wake each morning and decide that today will be one of exploration and insight.

I also love the notion that “the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.” This can mean the end of our life’s journey, or it can mean the end of each smaller adventure we endeavor to undertake across the different seasons of our lives.

Right now I’m somewhat immersed in my “wellness journey”. For those of you who have followed this blog for a while, this term will be familiar. It started last summer (June 2012, you can read it here) when I finally emerged from the cave where I had been living, and began to explore and experience life. As I lay this quote over the idea of this particular journey, I can’t help but wonder if there will be an “end” at which to arrive, and how I will know it.

Perhaps right now you’re in a season of partnership (in marriage) and parenthood. The end may come when your last child leaves home to begin their own season. On that day, will you find that you have arrived where you started, two become one, but that you know it now for the first time?

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