I once attended a retreat where participants were instructed to spend some time in nature and look for something that "spoke" to them. Whatever spoke to you, you were to pick up and bring back to the gathering-room to share.
Walking down a wooded path, I saw a white stone and bent to pick it up, but paused. The stone wasn't exceptional in itself, but its surroundings - green grass, pine needles, smaller gray pebbles - made the small, white stone stand out. I knew, if I picked it up to carry inside, I'd be removing it from its "place." I had a deep sense that the stone was exactly where it needed to be - in a place where it was both nestled-in and singled-out.
That stone helped me understand the importance of place, helped me accept that where I was was exactly where I needed to be. I suppose the message could have been different. All of us certainly find ourselves, at one time or another, in places we must leave posthaste, without looking back at all.
Knowing the difference, of course, is a question of discernment, one I've often sorted out in conversations with a Spiritual Director or close friend. Perhaps the best way to begin is with simple, non-judgmental, observation. Here are a few questions to get you started:
* What do you notice about the place you find yourself in (be honest)?
* How does it compare to other places you've been in?
* How might you know if this is a difficult, but important place for you to remain in for a season?
* What clear signs might tell you it's time to leave?
* Still feeling stuck? Shoot me an email (Chripczuk.firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a FREE consultation - maybe Spiritual Direction would be a good fit for you.