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The Path of Further Understanding

“If you think it is ever warranted to stop on the path of further understanding, you are very far from the truth. The life which we received was given to us not that we might just admire it, but that we should ever look for new truth hidden from us.” – Leo Tolstoy, quoting John Milton

I thought I was pretty clever stacking up my list of quotes and observations about the ocean, at the ready for a sailing trip northward in the Gulf of Maine. But plans change, as I wrote yesterday. And sailing will have to wait for another year and another boat. Other forces are at play now. So today I return to introspection on my own path to understanding. This year is full of moments of clarity, but also searing injustices that are difficult to understand. We do what we can to discover the truth hidden from us.

“Well the heart that hurts
Is a heart that beats
Can you hear the drummer slowing
One step closer to knowing…”
– U2, One Step Closer

U2 writes big arena songs that lift people up out of their seats in unison. And I love rising out of my seat with the rest of the arena. But for me, their songs of quiet reflection often left off the set list stick with me long after the adrenaline of the big songs wears off. One Step Closer is one of those songs, and I found the lyrics running through my head when I woke up this morning. Losing a loved one shakes distractions away abruptly, even when expected. And serve as reminders that we’re all one step closer to knowing stir such remembered words from the cobwebs of the mind. The truth is always waiting for us to find it.

Is there a bigger cliche than “We’re all on this journey together”? I’m guilty of using it several times in this blog. And yet it rings true. Those who came before us offer the accumulated wisdom of their lifetimes to light the path. Our own accumulated wisdom adds familiarity and confidence that we might know the way. But none of us know where the path leads us beyond the next step. We can only walk the path as countless souls have before us and be fully present on the way. It helps to remember that we don’t walk it alone.

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