Making a path in life, and living life as a path, requires us to become aware and accept at every step that movement is also a change of landscape. This is a fact of reality. There is no real road without valleys and ridges, plains, winds, ravines, rain, droughts, floods…and more. The geography we cross in life will be diverse, and the same is true in the spiritual life. The diversity in both, in addition to being gateways to changes, are also a source of instability, shocks and diversions in the middle of the journey.
There are and will continue to be obstacles in the midst of a changing geography, which make progress difficult, and even stop it at times. We might feel like we are on the edge of an abyss, bogged down in the mud, trying to avoid boulders and rocks that make the steps slippery, steep slopes that make our legs tired to the point of thinking that we will not be able to continue. However, obstacles are not the path, they are only part of it, and they do not define it in its entirety. They are only there to be overcome, to be left behind. If we fixate on the obstacles, we will be stranded or delayed unnecessarily. A stone, a crossed branch or a sloping path should be an opportunity for learning, rather then becoming fixated on it. The secret is not to be deceived and learn in advance to avoid this pitfall.
The Way of the Heart is also a school to learn to “discern” the obstacles on the path of following the Lord, so as not to be deceived by such distractions. Biblical and spiritual tradition talk about not being deceived by an enemy, which St. Ignatius calls “the enemy of human nature.” The obstacles that we find along the way can collude with our frailties, diverting us from the path towards other paths that we would not have wanted to travel, making us think that the obstacles will be permanent, that this is how it will be the entire way or that we will not be able to overcome them. They are the high points of spiritual combat, moments in which to discern, learn and overcome difficulty with the help of the Lord. This way of looking at life, and also the spiritual life, places us in a position of alertness and combat, in which the important thing is not the obstacle, nor the difficulty, but rather not being deceived by the enemy on the path itself, in following the Lord, urging us to move forward and learn from the difficulties.
This simple truth is a dynamic of everyday life as well as the spiritual life. The Way of the Heart introduces us to a school of the heart that helps us choose life and not be deceived by the enemy in the face of difficulties.
(International Coordinator of The Way of the Heart)