Every once in a while an important quest calls us. We can hear it whispering in our hearts. Sometimes the quest is easy; other times hard. Sometimes it takes everything we have to complete it.
If we are lucky, our quest illuminates our entire lives. It teaches us what we have not yet noticed, what still remains hidden in our deepest self. It reveals strength, commitment, tenderness, unexpected treasures. Our heart guides us to our quest…and the quest ends up opening our heart even more.
Another definition of a quest is the way it moves us beyond our usual patterns. It beckons us from the comfort of our habits, our compulsions, our regular beaten path through the days and weeks and years.
I believe our heart sends us on mini-quests all the time. We don’t even label the promptings as quests. Perhaps our heart begs us to open a spiritual center, or to paint pictures. Perhaps it whispers to write a book, or travel to India or into the woods down the road. Perhaps it advises caring for an aging parent, starting a blog. Sometimes our quest is to communicate; other times it involves silence. We never know what quest our heart shall send us on next. It’s a journey into the unknown, into untraveled territory.
I just finished reading a book about a Big Quest. It is called “A 1,000- Mile Walk on the Beach” by Loreen Niewenhuis. The subtitle is “One Woman’s Trek of the Perimeter of Lake Michigan.”
As most of you know, Lake Michigan lies south of Lake Superior, a sister lake, one of the Great Lakes. Last spring and fall I blogged about Mike Link and Kate Crowley walking around Lake Superior and unofficially met Loreen by reading her blog, Lake Trek.
She says, “Life should be an adventure.”
I almost actually met Loreen during her hike north of Traverse City in 2009. Well, I could have met her. Here’s what happened. I was eating breakfast downstate in Bellaire, meeting blogger-friend Gerry from Torch Lake Views. Having spent many teenage days in Antrim County at my parent’s cottage, I was eager to meet Gerry who lived nearby.
As we sipped our coffee, Gerry said she had another date after breakfast. She was hiking with a woman walking around Lake Michigan. Too bad I couldn’t accompany them… Gerry’s dogs, Miss Sadie and the Cowboy, were already in the car, awaiting the Grand Adventure.
You’ll have to read the book to read the segment about Loreen’s hike with Gerry and the dogs. You’ll learn about blisters on feet, dunes, camping with raccoon visitors, fascination with roadkill. (Yep, I would be fascinated, too.)
You’ll learn what it felt like to hike through Chicago and the industry around Gary, Indiana. You’ll be saddened to discover that there are places around Lake Michigan where scuba divers have received burns diving in polluted waters.
You’ll learn about the precious eco-system which surrounds the lake and the ways mankind has threatened the natural balance.
Loreen hiked the lake in ten segments in 2009. Her heart called her on a Big Quest, and she didn’t refuse its calling. In her words: “When I turned 45, I felt something pull at me, goading me to take on something bigger than myself, to challenge myself in a big way.”
She did. She heeded her inner calling, and hiked. I applaud you, Loreen. You inspire me to listen to what my heart is whispering. My quest may not be a big hike around the lake, but it’s a quest, nonetheless.
Readers, I hope your voice will give you the courage and inspiration to follow your own inner nudgings and promptings as they arise. To leave the beaten path of everyday reactions, and venture toward a deeper response. It may only feel like a small prompting, a small quest–but listening to the deepest heart has a way of leading us where we need to travel next.
I know we’re all listening. I just pray that we all have the strength to follow when our heart nudges.