Standing at the crossroad

Prayer practice for September: Lectio Divina


Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,

and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

(Jeremiah 6:16)

(Instructions for this prayer practice can be found at the link at the top of the page. We welcome you to share your “word” or “phrase” in the comments below.)

When I copied the scripture passage onto this page, the previously-continuous lines naturally divided into the three parts above. The unintended separation seemed to emphasize the need to pause.

The scripture passage advises a process of discernment which begins with a holy pause. Too often, instead of pausing, we rush through life, barely taking a breath, dashing down each trail we encounter, not wanting to miss anything — frantically wanting to arrive somewhere — anywhere — so that we can finally stop and rest. This way of “traveling” exhausts and depletes us. We often feel fearful and lost.

A crossroad is a type of threshold: there is a choice to be made, a new path to take. We may feel confused and unsure how to proceed, but we are also anxious to be on our way and leave that uncomfortable place of unknowing.

We need patience to “stand” and “look.” The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.” Henri Nouwen writes: “Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes.”

Are you aware of a crossroad in your life right now? If so, can you take some time to consider what is called for in this moment?

Is it time to simply stand — stop moving, and be still? Sometimes this takes the most courage.

Is it time to look carefully — with the eyes of your heart — at the choices in front of you? Notice where your heart is drawn.

Or is it a time to ask questions (in your prayer or from wise persons in your life) that can help guide you. Good questions can lead us “home” as David Whyte writes:

The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering… If we are sincere in asking, the eventual answer will give us both a sense of coming home to something we already know as well a sense of surprise—not unlike returning from a long journey to find an old friend sitting unexpectedly on the front step, as if she’d known, without ever being told, not only the exact time and date of your arrival but also your need to be welcomed back.

Or, finally, is it time to walk? Have you been quite sure which path is the “good way” but you’re still waiting to take that first step? What do you need to begin?

My prayer for each of us, is that, step by step, we will discover where the good way lies, walk in it, and find rest for our souls.

God’s peace be with you on this journey we walk together. ~Donna


6 thoughts on “Standing at the crossroad

  1. lindasblog2016

    “Where the good way lies” are the words that jumped out to me this morning. I have been sitting with some difficult issues at work. As I am attentive to my body and soul, I sense God’s presence as I wait, reflect, and listen to where the good way lies. Do I change directions or just be present to the losses, let them wash over me and bouy me up?

  2. ghlstn

    Linda, I am moved by your willingness to wait, reflect and listen for where the “good way lies” in light of your work issues.

    “Do I change directions or be present to the losses, let them wash over me and buoy me up?”
    Such a sacred question — your words remind me of the emptied chambers of the nautilus shell.

  3. jedwar02

    I am reminded of one of my favorite passages from Scripture: Lord, your word is a lamp unto my feet. I feel both the familiarity and the surprise in having this passage return to me.
    I can see enough for taking the next step. Will I allow my several to rest in this or will I insist upon looking into the darkness to try and figure out where this path leads?

    1. ghlstn

      John, your words “Will I insist upon looking into the darkness to try and figure out where this path leads?” speak to me today.
      How often I do this (so focussed on knowing the destination) rather than being present to this step of my journey, which God has illuminated.
      Thank you!

  4. linhankgraham

    I have brought this beautiful crossroads picture to mind many times each day and I seem to be stuck at this place, so fearful of taking a step and choosing the wrong path. Then today I read Psalm 105. It reads: “May we be content to wait in peace, until You stir the waters within to act; may we be patient with ourselves and with others”. My prayer today is to be content to wait.
    Also, God’s Name Fragment today is “Supporter”. Knowing that He stands by me as my strong supporter when things don’t go as I wish or when what I know no longer exists. I am reminded that He is with me and supports me no matter which path I take.

    1. ghlstn

      Yes, Linda, that reminds me of what Nouwen writes about waiting patiently. This can be a very holy place. I love the verse in Psalm 105 – will keep it with my Nouwen quote, and am very touched how God is bringing encouragement and support to you. God is with us.


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