Wherever You Go

Interlude:  Ur Cnoc Cein Mhic Cainte, performed by Sue Richards, on the Grey Eyed Morn album

Wherever you go, there you are.

Years ago, those six words of wisdom opened a whole new way of thinking for me. At that time of my life, I was looking for change.  It’s been so long ago that I don’t remember the details — was it where I lived? Was it a relationship? Was it my employer? It doesn’t really matter now.  The point was that although I could change my environment or my relationship, I would bring all the emotional baggage that was “me” to that new situation. It didn’t mean that I shouldn’t try to improve my circumstances, but that improving my quality of life might also involve self-improvement, too.

As years went on, I’ve changed all those external things, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time and effort on self-improvement, too.  Most people use New Year’s resolutions as a tool for motivating self-improvement. I don’t remember having much success with those. Lent has been another calendar-based motivator (It starts the first Wednesday in March this year.).  But again, not terribly effective long-term. I got a Habits app for my phone over Thanksgiving weekend, to help me establish some daily practices, and although it’s still too early to tell for sure, that seems to be working pretty well.  So if you want to change something about yourself, there are plenty of ways to do it, and you can set your own starting point in time, and use whatever tools work for you. You can change the “you” in “there you are.”

But there’s another phrase in that sentence — wherever you go.  

Where do you go?  You can “go” to someplace or someone new — the original context from years back.  You can travel, too. And you will still be there — the “you” that had foot surgery and just can’t climb up to the top floor of Himeji castle.  The “you” that has forgotten much of the Japanese you once learned. The “you” that just isn’t fond of crowds — no matter how polite they may be.  

And then, you can “go” to another place, the state of mind that we call contemplative prayer, meditation.  The “you” that needs self-improvement is going to be there, for sure, chattering away about whatever is bright and shiny, or scary and dark.  But the lovely thing is, you can meditate wherever you have physically gone. Sitting on a bench in a park. Sitting on a chair in your hotel room.   Sitting in your empty office first thing in the morning. Sitting in your car in the doctor’s office parking lot. Maybe circumstances won’t allow a full 20 or 30 minutes of meditation, but you’ll go there.   Like those few words that families say to each other as they carry on their busy lives, those few minutes of meditation can help keep you connected to the Holy Spirit, to the sacred internal space, home of that relationship beyond all coming or going.

Wherever you go, there you are.

May the year 2019 be a blessing to you, and to your meditation practice.

Delivered at Resurrection Catholic Church, Aptos, California, on January 26, 2019.