The word I’m carrying today is GUIDANCE. I’m interested in how it comes—in how to notice and receive it, how to make a habit of that noticing. People speak of it in various ways: “The Lord told me to . . .” “I sensed . . .” “I felt . . .” “I found myself strongly attracted to . . .” “I suddenly knew . . . .” The language moves rather fluidly between psychology and theology, intuition and inspiration, internal desires and external signals. I think of the Holy Spirit as moving among and within us and of angels or subtle presences some have names for, but who accompany and witness and help us along the way. These are things I have observed about how guidance comes: usually subtly; surprisingly; suddenly; often from unlikely (sometimes unwelcome) sources; sometimes in the form of bodily sensations—fatigue, new energy, a clutch in the stomach, tingling. I think you get more as you learn to pay more consistent attention to what emerges at the margins of consciousness. I wrote a poem some time ago called “Halo Effect” in a book called “The Light at the Edge” which had to do with this experience, so I’ll append it here.
“What does it take for people to change their minds?”
Sometimes there are no trumpets, but only
a slight shift in the light, the angle
of vision, the syntax. Revelation
can hover like a hummingbird, dart
in and out of sight, leave only
a shock of color and the amazement
all that energy awakens.
Conversion doesn’t always require
a fall from a horse or three days
of blindness. Sometimes we see
the light at the edge of the field
when the gaze is fixed on the teacup
or we are chewing our pencils,
Looking for a word.
Epiphany as ordinary as a grey morning
dawns neither sudden nor gradual, but
alights in the present perfect.
What has been here all along arrives,
astonishing, and changes everything.