Henri the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm. He still bombarded Brooklyn and connected areas with lots of rain. An example of this deluge was evident in Prospect Park last week where I bicycle. Some concave paths were covered with inches of water, interfering with easy passage. Runners could be seen moving to the left or right for steady, dry ground.
I felt afraid as I approached the first puddle yet decided to wade through it. The water licked at my left foot as the motion of my wheels kicked the liquid upward. My brakes survived, and squeaked as I tested them. The second puddle seemed less scary as I rode through it, at this point, an experienced paddler. Easy-peasy. My brakes worked in the aftermath.
In the last phase of my ride, near the Band Shell, the third quagmire loomed. In my thoughts, I hesitated. I had seconds to react. Experience replaced fear as I decided to bike around this body of water, which resembled a murky lake unwilling to be tamed. My wheels could get bogged down by the silt. Better to take a different path. Because I was unafraid, my energy was free and unencumbered – I could evaluate the situation clearly to negotiate what lay ahead. I was strategic rather than fearful, able to clearly evaluate what was needed.
Moments later, it occurred to me that, metaphorically, these three puddles represent the spiritual challenges we experience as we make our way on the path: At first glance, the puddles seem similar. I, the bicyclist, developed a way, a strategy to get through, to respond, to interact.
The first and second bodies of water enabled me to maneuver through without much difficulty aside from the fear of riding through the initial one. I literally and figuratively rode through my fear and tested my brakes. I sailed through my second challenge. Yet my response to the third situation required discernment (gained from the first two challenges). This third (seeming similar) situation required a nuanced response which, without fear, I was able to navigate. In the first two situations, I was able to dissolve my fear, and this prepared me for an appropriate response, riding around the untamed, silty lake. I had developed resilience from my learned experience.
Universe prepares us by providing many opportunities as the spiritual path unfolds. We learn, spurred on by the (seeming) obstacles placed in our way. What appears to be similar may not be as it seems. The resolution can be subtle. This requires discernment, sometimes prayer, or meditation, even a chat with a like-minded friend.
This is the way of the traveler – the adventure of the soul.