When vision brings us face to faceless face with the unknown, the usual response is to run. We sprint away by burying ourselves in someone else's noble cause, distracting ourselves with all manner of important things, or by crawling under the covers and assuming the fetal position. Yet, whatever direction we race, the nagging, undefined purpose of our vision is waiting with its silent call.
At some point all excuses have been exhausted, or we're too exhausted to run anymore. Our vision seizes us again and we accept its call. What's the first step we wonder. This is our sacred mission and we don't want to blow it by making the wrong move. So we stall a little longer mediating, journaling, talking to our best friend, communing with the trees and maybe howling at the moon.
Finally, we get real and start. We pick up the pen, put down the keyboard, tap on the telephone or gather the tribe. Each move, any move, comes down to this: we start digging right where we are. After all the preparation, we are where we always are: Here, Now. Finally, the energy of the vision flow through our bones. It feels good, really good. Mind and body, soul and earth enter the pleasure of engaging life.
Soon the work produces initial results. Surprise! The image on the page, the words on the screen, the response to the phone call probably aren't precisely what you envisioned. At this point, I've found that it's helpful to notice the gap between my expectations and my outcomes. I can either get frustrated or shut down. Or, I can man-up, reach into that gap and discover hidden powers and knowledge I didn't know were there. Somehow, from that lightless space comes the strength and insight I need to take the next. If I get ahead of myself and attempt the see the distant design within the gap, I come up empty-handed. Step by step the potential of the vision unfolds. To stay true to the vision, every step of the way seems to involve reaching into the unknown. Following this process, I notice what is actually unfolding rather than what I thought would develop. Whenever I try to control the vision, it kicks me in the butt and leaves me with nowhere to turn and nothing to do. All that's left is to stare into the gap and reach into the unknown.
There's an architectural embodiment of this experience at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral is the last stop on the 600 mile Camino thousands of pilgrims walk each year across Spain. Inside the portal of the basilica stands the marble pillar of St. James. Flanking the base of the pillar are two mythic beings with gapping mouths. Pilgrims approach the pillar and slide the fingers of one hand into the five indentations at the marble roots of the Tree of Jesse. These indentations have been worn into the stone by countless others who have repeated this ritual for nearly 1,000 years. After reaching the touchstone of their journey, each pilgrim kneels. She touches her forehead to the base of the pillar and stretches her arms into the mouths of the mythic beings. It's an energy-filled moment, reaching the end of the long trail and stretching her body into the dark void. After pausing in that humble position for a moment, the pilgrim rises to her feet, turns and walks out the door. The vision she thought would be completed by arriving at this place silently whispers: we've come so far, more has been revealed than you ever dreamed possible... and together, we will bring forth many more treasures from the depths of the soul.