Turning the Page

No more plans. Give me a foggy signpost

February 13, 2020

Plans and blueprints give us a sense of certainty, but it’s in the fog of relationships we need something more. Signposts offer us a direction, a relationship of trust, an ancient path.

I wanted him to tell me what to do. Give me advice, a plan, a blueprint, a map back to where I once was. I needed help, and I felt utterly lost.

‘I can’t give you a map, but I can give you some foggy signposts’

We all want maps, and plans don’t we. Codes and blueprints that if we follow, we will succeed. For most of life, this is how it works.

Yesterday I had a drive belt on a machine break. I pulled out the belt, went and got a replacement then put the new belt on. The machine is back working, and it felt good. I moved into the chaos and solved the problem.

I will have other problems of chaos again today. I will dig into my brains toolbox, reach for a plan, and solve the problem.

But there are areas of my life, and yours, where there are no clear plans or blueprints. We search for a map and a code but come up short.

The relationships we have with others are probably the most significant area of stress we have. How many times do a few words spoken sink us into depression, push our anxiety buttons, or fire up the coals of our anger?

So we write internal policy manuals. ‘If they do this, then I’ll do that.’ Rule books, manuals, maps, and plans all constrain the traveling relationship to mere functionality.

A foggy signpost

A few years ago, my wife and I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This pilgrimage journey is one that millions of people have taken, but there is no map. Well, there is actually, or there could be if you wanted to find one, but instead, there are road markers with arrows.

As you walk along the well-worn path, you will come across small stone markers with an arrow and the information of how far it is to go.

If you look at the top of the signpost, you will see a blue panel with yellow lines, all pointing to one spot. The Camino has a scallop shell as a symbol of direction. All the radial points line up to one endpoint: many paths, one destination.

You will find ancient signposts on the Camino being nothing but a scallop shell chiseled into stone.


Mental Health is knowing when the map needs to be put down, and a wholehearted seeking of ancient foggy signposts needs to be embraced.CLICK TO TWEET

The Ancient Paths

The Camino de Santiago is an ancient path, but there are even more ancient paths that people like you and I have walked.

Whatever you are going through in your relationships, thousands of others have been through it before.

Jeremiah, born 650 years before Christ, knew of the ancient paths. They were old even then.

Stand at the crossroads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16

Have you ever wept? Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. No superhero status here, but he was one that sought out the foggy signposts on the ancient paths.

Developing intimate trust

It was when they said, ‘I believe in you’ and ‘I’m going to walk with you through this’ that I knew that I had found someone under a foggy signpost.

They had been there done that. They had the scars to prove they had been through the battle I was going through, and so they could be trusted.

No trite answers were given, no formulas or maps laid out. It was a sense of presence that invited me to know that I was safe and welcomed. It was intimacy – in-to-me-see.

When we grow in relationship with others who have found and want to share their foggy signposts, we form a community of fellow pilgrims. Honest and ‘dirt between the toes’ wanderers.

A trust grows not in a plan but a presence that it’s going to be ok. You’re not alone. You have fellow travelers who have found the signpost you are looking for.

You begin to drop the plans, blueprints, codes, and loyalty programs. Confidence fills your heart, and you take that one more step into the fog.

The well of Jeremiah’s tears is known to you, and you’re able to provide a sense of presence to fellow Jeremiahs.

Quotes to consider

  • Genuine presence involves being genuinely myself. I can be present for another person only when I dare to be present to myself. Dr. David Benner
  • Spiritual growth begins with the easily overlooked disciplines of attentiveness and surrender. David Benner
  • We live in the shelter of each other. Celtic saying
  • Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart. Abraham Joshua Heschel

Questions to consider

  1. What foggy signposts have helped you?
  2. Where is the invite today for you to seek out a foggy signpost?
  3. Maps and plans are helpful in many areas of life, but what happens when we try and apply them to our relationships?

Further Reading

Barry Pearman

Image cc: Dipan Kumar Rout

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