SPIRITUAL MATTERS: Charting our spiritual course
"Which way to go?" That's a question only a visitor to Norfolk Island would ponder - and then, only on the first day! What's not so easy to understand is what prompted the visitor's question to the tour driver one day: "Do these roads go over all the island?"
I'm reminded of that classic of English literature - "Alice in Wonderland", by Lewis Carroll. In a conversation with the Cheshire Cat, Alice asked: "Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the cat. "I don't care much where," said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the cat.
Which way to go is a question we all ask at various times.
It's a question young people will ponder as they face crucial choices about careers and employment. It's a question all of us ask when faced with small, everyday decisions. And it's a question mainland drivers face when navigating the network of city and country roads. The only ones who don't have to decide are train drivers. They have to go where the rail lines take them - and the controllers of the points will determine that!
The majority of my flying in outback areas as a patrol minister has been during the pre-GPS era. Navigation then necessitated the use of a map, a compass and a swag of current information and historic learning.
One day I picked up a passenger at Cobar to take to a station property near Tibooburra in the NW corner of NSW. I worked out the track I needed to fly - which crossed the mighty Darling River en-route. I then calculated the time I'd arrive at that point in order to chart our progress and position.
In due course, the Darling River appeared dead ahead and I made the radio call to the Flight Service Unit at Broken Hill to tell them we were on time and on track.
Some time later I became concerned that the station homestead didn't appear where and when it should have. After a fruitless search, I spotted another property and landed to ask where we were.
Long story short, I'd made an error in plotting our outbound track and hadn't picked up on it because although we'd over-flown the Darling River as planned, we'd approached it at right-angles and I hadn't picked up that we were actually well to the left of our intended track!
It's relatively easy to make navigational mistakes in life. These may be the result of simple errors, calculated risks or inattention.
This also applies to the charting of our spiritual course through life.
We may not have received vital instruction or training during our early formative years; the tools we need to navigate our spirituality may be outdated or missing altogether; we may have decided we can get by without paying attention to where we're heading spiritually; or we may have become distracted along the way and failed to recognise that we're heading in the wrong direction.
Whatever the cause, we need to continually assess or re-assess where we're at in our relationship with God. And if we're concerned that we've lost our way, do something about it.
Taking stock of our spiritual bearings and correcting our position is both sensible and essential.