THE QUEST Part 6: Tribulations and Trials

We are well into our journey!  We know who our friends are, we know who’s against us (although leave room for additional helpers and more surprises from allies), and now we’re learning what we need to propel us to the goal.

"Hell & High Water" Road Sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves!

But just about the time you think you’ve mastered something, another bigger trial comes up and whacks ya. 

I know, I know, it sounds as though this quest is just one danged thing after another.  And it can sure seem that way, especially through the middle part of the journey when you’re almost always having to learn new stuff.  But you’re new to this endeavor, no?  Or, perhaps this is a second (or third, or . . .) crack at it.  If you didn’t have more to learn though, you wouldn’t have needed the quest in the first place!  And that requires more “opportunities to learn.”

The old, “I’m wise enough now, God,” tends to come up.  Because often through all the muck and the mire you just feel like you’re slogging through.  Is this ever gonna end? The goal seems farther away than ever.  And these stinkin’ obstacles just keep coming.

They’re tests.  That’s all they are.  And they really do build not only character (again, have enough of that! we squeal at this point), but as importantly, we learn from each and every one.  Anything worth undertaking is worth having to learn a new skill set, right? 

I work with a lot of folks writing first novels.  And man, is there a lot to learn. Well-written novels just look easy to write because the author has such enormous skill.  The better the read, the more accomplished the person holding the pen.

As I often say to open when speaking at literary conferences: “Writing well really is rocket science.”

And through the middle part, would-be scribes often want to quit.  But they don’t if they’re working with me!  You need someone or some thing to help spur you on.  I remind them (as I’m reminding me!) that keeping going is the primary key.

I’m so fond of author and spiritual teacher Maya Angelou’s advice: You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.

This motivation can come from a mentor, a spiritual belief, even a miracle—which can just be some tiny piece of encouragement, even from a book.  Or, from a friend who sends you hot chocolate.

Funny how hot chocolate can restore one’s faith in, well, just about anything!  Chocolate of any sort can connect us with the divine J

One of my favorite old books is called Hinds Feet on High Places. Throughout the book, Much Afraid is enduring trials and tribulations on her path, of course from without but so much of her troubles come from within.  In any good story (for which yours qualifies!), the outer trials mirror the inner ones. 

And discouraged she gets.  Often.  As she sinks into despair she always hears: “Call the Shepard!”  Who helps get her out of whatever fix.  That’s what the Shepherd does, of course.   The point of the role in the first place!

By the time you’re ¾ through the book, and Much Afraid gets in another jam, you’re shouting, “Call the Shepherd!”

And that Shepherd is whatever your spiritual belief and path is.  It can be God or the Force or the Universe or you can call it Fred. It’s the spiritual light within you, which connects you to whatever higher power you subscribe to.

Of course, that light is always there.  Always.  But like Much Afraid, we forget to call upon it.  And usually we’re well into the deep abyss before we remember . . .

Yep, this part of the journey can be just mundane in its troubles. Just tiring.  Filled with wondering if this is even worth it.  It wears you down.

But there’s a reason for that, as all great myths show.  Once you get worn to the nub, the ego’s defenses wane.  The irrelevant within you falls away.  If you persist, you’ll see the light of Truth, shining from behind the clouds—where it’s always been. 

And in the midst of it, get quiet and call your Shepherd . . .



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