Fr. Stephen Powley | 31 July 2021

From my youth, I have spent much time in wilderness areas. If you do not pay attention to where you are, you can easily get disoriented. Growing up, we jokingly said that we never got lost, we simply took longer getting back than we anticipated.

The most disoriented I have ever felt was a time in my late teens. I was deep in the forest and began tracking an elk. I tracked him for about an hour with my total focus on the ground. When I finally stopped and looked around, I had absolutely no idea where I was. Clouds blocked the sun and there were no mountains or landmarks to be seen in the dense forest. I confess there was an instant rush of anxiety through my entire body as I realized my total disorientation (notice I still cannot use the word “lost”).

Fortunately, I didn’t panic but calmed down and realized the only way out of my situation was to recall what I did know and track that elk backwards, the exact way I had come.

In our spiritual lives, it is easy for a person to get their focus on the “ground” (the world) and find ourselves disoriented. Somehow, we managed to take our focus off the things that keep us on the right path. When we finally look up, we find ourselves disoriented. We suddenly realize that for quite some time we have not been to church, or we have not been praying, or that we haven’t read a verse of Scripture. If fact, we have not been focused on our spiritual life at all. What should we do?

When that realization washes over you, don’t panic. Remember that you are not lost; you are just taking longer to get back to the right path. Start right where you are by asking the Lord for forgiveness and to help you get back on the right track. Make the decision to go to Church the next Sunday. Take a few minutes and read the Scriptures for the day. Ahhh… Already you are calming down and heading in the right direction.

It is important to understand that becoming disoriented once in a while is very much a part of our spiritual journey. It happens to almost everyone. You are not “lost”. It is simply taking a little longer to get back to where you ought to be.

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