Why we should practice being lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known. . . .
—David Wagoner [1]



I found myself lost. I didn’t get lost. I didn’t even think I was really going anywhere – at least I hadn’t planned anything new. I had been traveling on the same path, with the same destination, as always. And I felt good about that. I knew that it was the right path. My soul was guiding me. And, then, I turned a corner and realized that I was just suddenly, completely lost. Like truly suddenly, out of nowhere. In a new, unfamiliar, very different place.

I suppose I should clarify that I was not driving a car or walking in the woods when I found myself lost. No, I was lost in my own life.

Ok. It’s not as dramatic as it sounds. And, yet, it is. I still knew who I was. I was still happy, calm, satisfied, inspired… still me, still following the whispers of my soul.

But, somehow I got knocked off of the path I thought I was on. I found myself unable to write, blog, take photos, or do much of anything except what I needed to do from day to day. It was just all so unexpected – and quite unsettling. And it forced me to literally just be in the moment.

Now, finally, after two months away from here, away from my blog, I feel like I have wandered out of that lost feeling. I have settled again and I feel ready to share with you a little bit about what I was up to during April + May. What I’ve experienced, thought about, and started working on. Not because you care (maybe you do, maybe you don’t), but because I need to write it out. I need to document it. And add it as another highlight + experience in my journey of becoming me.

So, I am going to share a ton of stuff with you about April + May in two separate, upcoming blog posts. I’ve got tons of thoughts + tons of photos. And, each month deserves it’s own post.

For now, though, I want to talk about being lost.

I want to share with you something I read just this morning, which summarizes perfectly my entire two month blogging absence. Something that is a written-crafted explanation of things that I could never really set words to. And something that expresses my unique style of spirituality + beliefs in a most perfect way.

I subscribe to a daily email devotional (hmm…  maybe spiritual inspiration email works better) by Richard Rohr, an American Franciscan priest/monk who is also a contemplative mystic. His emails, while grounded in the Christian tradition, take practices, beliefs, words, and rituals from all belief systems that work to create a deeper meaning in life and a better world. Equal… right up my alley. A wide, well-ranging, inclusive belief system focus on magic + meaning + making a difference.

Anyway, today’s email, which was actually yesterday’s, blew me away. Close to the end of the email, Fr. Richard had included a little spiritual practice… a tangible way to live out one’s beliefs. And here is where it all came together for me.

And now I want to share the words with you:

An invitation to wander

Earlier this year I (Fr. Richard) shared an invitation from psychologist and wilderness guide Bill Plotkin to wander in nature. [2] Plotkin writes about the great gift of “finding ourselves lost,” both literally in nature and metaphorically in the midst of life’s changes. Sit with his words today and then seek out a time and place where you can be alone and allow yourself to be “lost.”

Although true solitude—alert aloneness without diversions—can be challenging, it is often the necessary gateway to our deepest passions, and the discovery of what we must do to live them. As David Whyte writes,. . . Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive
is too small for you. [3]

The Wanderer learns to look deeply into the face of her aloneness and discover what truly brings her alive and what doesn’t. . . . You discover ease, inspiration, belonging, and wisdom in your own company. . . .

When wandering, there is immense value in “finding ourselves lost” because we can find something when we are lost, we can find our selves. . . . Imagine yourself lost in your career or marriage, or in the middle of your life. You have goals, a place you want to be, but you don’t know how to reach that place. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you want, you just have a vague desire for a better place. Although it may not seem like it, you are on the threshold of a great opportunity. Begin to trust that place of not knowing. Surrender to it. You’re lost. There will be grief. A cherished outcome appears to be unobtainable or undefinable. In order to make the shift from being lost to being present, admit to yourself that your goal may never be reached. Though perhaps difficult, doing so will create entirely new possibilities for fulfillment. 

Surrendering fully to being lost—and this is where the art comes in—you will discover that, in addition to not knowing how to get where you had wanted to go, you are no longer so sure of the ultimate rightness of that goal. By trusting your unknowing, your old standards of progress dissolve and you become eligible to be chosen by new, larger standards, those that come not from your mind or old story or other people, but from the depths of your soul. You become attentive to an utterly new guidance system. . . .

This kind of being lost and then found is one form of ego death and rebirth, one form of entering the tomb-womb of the cocoon. . . .

In order to live your soul into the world, you must continuously loosen your beliefs about who you are.

Now, my friends, after I read this, my mind was spinning, my heart – fluttering, and my soul soaring. And I pretty much have no other words to share with you today. No words except: This is what I experienced during April + May. This is how we are to approach the thought of finding ourselves lost. And this is why allowing ourselves to become wanderers, who find themselves lost time + time again, is so very important.

More stories + photos to come soon. It feels so good to be back here with you.


Wander on, wild ones! xoxo. liz.



[1] Excerpt from David Wagoner, “Lost,” Poetry Magazine (July 1971), 219.
[2] See Richard Rohr’s meditation, “Wandering in Nature,” March 17, 2018, https://cac.org/the-natural-world-week-2-summary-2018-03-17/.
[3] David Whyte, “Fire in the Earth,” Fire in the Earth (Many Rivers Press: 1992), 8.
Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche (New World Library: 2003), 234, 248-249, 263.


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