From Nowhere to Now Here

Have you ever caught up with someone who you haven’t seen in years, and it seems like there hasn’t been any time or distance between when you were last together and that moment? Like it just picked up where it left off? Yesterday was a day of this for me. I had a video call with an old American friend, had coffee with some others I’d seen more recently, then dinner with two people I hadn’t significantly engaged with in over 15 years. The day was great, and just what this extrovert needed, but dinner truly refreshed me.

Over wine, and of course spiced rum for me, we laughed, shed small tears, had goosebumps, remembered the old days, talked of the present and encouraged each other of the future. It was indeed what church should be. One of the friends shared with me something which gave me hope and shone a light into my world right now.

Often, especially as a visionary leader, you spend most of your time dreaming and looking forward. You continually know precisely where you are and where you want to be. You always have an answer to every question that arises because you’re the sort of person who needs to know. You’re confident of the here and now and the direction you want to take. But in life, unexpected things happen where that vision vanishes in you. Like a sucker-punch to the gut, you’re winded; you can’t catch your breath, and you don’t know where you are. It’s like you are lost in a dark, unfamiliar forest, where every tree looks the same, and you can’t see an end in sight, to a visionary that’s a daunting and unpleasant place to be.
As we were sharing, one of my friends shared this poem with me, which was the light I needed. Lost, by David Wagoner:

“Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.”
— David Wagoner (1999)

Too often, we spend so much time trying to find ourselves when we feel lost. We do this working ourselves up into a state of feeling more lost than before. We feel like we are in the middle of nowhere and that our life is heading nowhere. But sometimes all we need to do is stop, breathe, close our eyes, be ok not knowing the plans for the future, rest and realise that we are not nowhere, we just read it wrong, we are now here. And here is crucial.

Here is a place of purpose too. We are not now here by accident. The darkness of the moonlit trees which seem all too unfamiliar is a place of cover and protection from the external forces of nature. Here isn’t a dark hidden forest; Here is a wonderland of rest. Here is a place where once you give up searching for the way out, you can truly find the rest you need and catch your breath.

I’ve never been one to enjoy stopping and smelling the roses. Being still hasn’t ever been something my ADD self could do easily. But sometimes it’s forced upon you. All of my stuff recently really couldn’t have happened at a better time. When it all started, I was so anxious about seeing people who would be uncomfortable around me or disappointed in my discovery of truth, that I had severe panic attacks. I didn’t know who I still had by my side, who was merely being kind, and who now didn’t want me around. I was nervous about the questions I would, and have received when bumping into someone while walking through the supermarket. I was scared of the judgemental stares with no words and not even a smile to tell me I was overthinking. But quarantine and isolation came, and at first, it was a hated beast. I felt so alone and isolated. I felt stuck. I felt lost in the darkness of this new forest that seemed to grow darker and was, at times, all-consuming. But as I look back, I see it was a time to “Be Still, and know that I am God.” I didn’t have to worry about people, their thoughts, their reactions, their questions – they aren’t God. I didn’t have to have a plan. I don’t have to have all the answers. I have to be still and realise I’m right where I need to be, now here, not nowhere. And instead of working my way out of the forest, or trying to find myself, I’m going to let this place, now here, find me.

If you feel lost, unsure, overwhelmed by what’s going on around you, and you can’t see a way forward. I encourage you, stop. Breathe. Be Still. Look around you. The trees aren’t scary. The future isn’t dark; it’s just unknown. Don’t panic or try to find yourself; rest in the now here – you will be found. “So let the sun come streaming in, cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again. Lift your head and look around. You will be found” because you’re Now Here. (You Will Be Found, Dear Evan Hansen)

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