Carolyn Myss, the medical intuitive who writes and lectures about why people don’t heal, flew to Russia a few years ago to give some lectures. Everything that could go wrong did—flights were canceled or overbooked, connections missed, her reserved room at the hotel given to someone else. She kept trying to be a good sport, but finally, two mornings later, on the train to her conference on healing, she began to whine to the man sitting next to her about how infuriating her journey had been thus far. It turned out that this man worked for the Dalai Lama. And he said—gently—that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born—and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible.*
When everything has gone wrong in my life, I have been angry, depressed, paralyzed—anything but highly aware of God at work in my heart. Only looking back am I sometimes aware that the failures and reversals that left me so bitter were occasions of grace. All our best laid plans have to be set aside. God usually begins with a gentle nudge, but when that is ignored or spurned, God must slip a stick in the spokes of our lives. The ruckus, it seems, is a divine distraction.
Or, as Richard Rohr puts it: “God has to work on your soul ‘in secret,’ according to the saints and mystics. If God gave you any idea of what God was doing, which is always radical surgery, you would do one of two things: you would try to stop it, or you would try to engineer it and take control of the process. God has to operate in darkness to get the job done.”
*from Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott