Path of Desire
The past few weeks the phrase “path of desire” has been roaming around my head. I’m not sure where I first heard the term, but the way I have come to understand it is a path of desire is like a deer trail in the woods. A physical path of desire is usually a thin well-trod path that leads somewhere that a critter or human needs to go. It is often the most direct path to something important. The ones in the woods may led to water or safe shelter, or be the most direct, safe way from here to there. Human paths of desire are like that too. You often see one across an empty lot cutting the corner the fastest way to a destination. Campus’s and parks have paths of desire carved into them if the planned, sanctioned paths don’t get people where they want to go. One of the most infuriating things about Central Park in New York City is the vast amount of grassy area that is fenced off from the rambling masses, they really don’t like those paths of desire people want to make, and a fence is about the only way to keep them from popping up, or rather wearing down. Anyhow, here at The Bishop’s Ranch we’ve got a number of physical paths of desire. The most obvious is a widely used one that leads from the lower part of the campus to the dining hall. The official walkway takes a big wide loop along the driveway, and it’s clear that when it comes to dinner no one wants to take the long way! So this past few weeks our visiting Americorp team turned that path of desire into a sanctioned path, leveled it, widened it and laid the path with woods chips to keep it from getting muddy. Desire fulfilled.
This week has also seen another kind of path of desire hewn. This path is of a spiritual nature. In the season of Advent The Bishop’s Ranch offers a Silent Retreat. Participants can choose from offerings of prayer, meditation, labyrinth walks, the art center open and ready to explore, hiking the trails or do nothing at all. Over the years I’ve watched these introspective wanderers with some degree of envy. I thought to my self how wonderful to just wander and wonder at your leisure do whatever you please, what an indulgence. But this year I have come to a new understanding of what these travelers are up to through the paths of desire lens. Physical paths of desire are not frivolous; they are direct lines to safety, sustenance, and shelter. Spiritual paths of desire also lead to sustenance and safety. It takes time to wear a groove both in the earth and the terra firma of the soul, and what ever the soul is needing the path of desire can led one there. Each travelers journey is different, each true. It seems that one must walk the path for some time to wear a groove, to press down the insistent grasses that wants to grow and obscure the way. Figuring out what path to forge is part of the journey, the other, and perhaps more difficult, is to follow it faithfully. A path of desire of true self of inner understanding is carved only by repeated use, so let’s start walking.