I am struggling more than I thought I would be with the weekly theme of “Follow” that is shaping my virtual faith formation blog posts this week. I have been sitting for quite a while with the word, considering times that I have followed my heart, my instincts, my calling, my sense of justice and vocation in the world. I have learned, through time and circumstance, to be a faithful follower of these inner voices of wisdom.
I have also had opportunities to lead. I started out my career path as a somewhat reluctant leader, but found the courage to step up. I am not the loudest, the most charismatic, and definately have never been the most popular. But, I do strive to be fair, balanced, and authentically committed to the ideals of the program, organization, or group that I am leading. When I find myself in positions of leadership, I realize I have followed inner wisdom to get there. I stick to that inner wisdom as a leader, following an ideal which is greater than I am.
I write this post tonight, still holding the word “follow” without a story clearly emerging as it usually does. Instead, the images that drift into my consciousness are about this blending. The longer I sit with this word, I realize that it is nearly impossible to separate leading and following.
Maybe that explains my love of the moon; rising, waxing, waning so elegantly night after night and yet following in a satellite orbit to the earth. The celestial brilliance of the moon merely reflects the light of the sun. To live like the moon requires a divine dance of leading and following.
Maybe it explains my draw to the labyrinth: the leadership of claiming each step, and the vulnerable following of a path that isn’t about upward mobility but instead about the unfolding journey that traces back on itself again and again.
Perhaps it explains my own path which has been, and continues to be, anything but linear. I am doubling back again now, taking up another path as learner even while leading as a scholar on a parallel portion of the journey. I cannot imagine it being any other way.
The journey of life asks us to be leaders and followers; to be courageous and vulnerable; to embrace inner wisdom and outer authority.
Tonight, I am content to live in this paradox: I will follow where I lead.
(Thanks to my friend Richard for sharing this photo, which so perfectly sums up my daily mission!)