Last week I wrote about pruning for purpose — cutting out or back to create space for deeper meaning, growth and joy — turning down the noise of life that we might tune into our own heart and others’. Though sometimes painful, I believe this process of pruning is necessary to reach the places we’ve chosen to go, for if we try to move in too many directions at the same time, we end up going nowhere fast.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that in this season of pruning; in this time of centered stillness, I’m beginning to better see what once was hidden behind the overgrowth of my life.
I call it connective purpose. Those moments when heart and head align at the intersection of all of our past experiences and future dreams, and we begin to see the connective tissue that gives shape and meaning to our lives. Those moments when the sum total of our experiences, including our setbacks and struggles, reveal evidence of a greater purpose than we could have envisioned on our own.
Beyond our own self-awareness and individual dreams, there is another kind of connective purpose — the kind that binds us to others, as our individual voices and talents conspire to advance a collective good. Like a patchwork quilt, our individual squares, when sewn together with others’, create a larger landscape of possibility.
We take a risk, extend ourselves, reach out, share our stories, and listen to others’. And in the midst of what once felt impossibly vulnerable, we find authentic connection where there once was none. We find collaborative opportunities to contribute, share, and co-create. Opportunities to advocate, serve, and raise a collective voice. We move as individuals, but more consciously as part of a whole.
Yesterday in D.C., The Atlantic hosted a conference on Maria Shriver’s latest report on the female face of poverty, A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink. I wasn’t there in person, and yet I was — virtually, anyway. For 8 hours, we listened to a myriad of perspectives on the problems of many. It was a robust dialogue intended to not only elevate awareness of an important issue that impacts us all, but to engage each of us in working collectively toward possible solutions in our own communities. As I listened, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own journey and how it fit into the larger context of the conversation. Collectively challenged, moved and inspired, what once appeared as random or coincidental touch points in my own life, now revealed themselves to me more clearly as part of a beautiful tapestry, and in that revelation, I could begin to understand how my personal story was part of a larger, more purposeful plan.
This is how it works with the Universe. We move along in our individual lives, as if isolated from the rest of the world. Yet sometimes, all that is needed is one spark, one connection, one honest moment with ourselves and others, to begin to see how our lives are infinitely intertwined with others in ways and to a degree beyond our human comprehension. In these moments of awakening, selfish desire gives way to a spirit of service, our own pain melts into compassion for others, and whatever sense of lacking we might have in our lives expands to a sense of wonder, abundance and gratitude. A gift of grace, we begin to understand that we need not walk alone in fear and isolation, but can faithfully move forward in community with others, from a spirit of deep, connective purpose.
To what degree does purpose define your own journey? Have you ever had one of those moments when what once felt like disjointed, random events, began to take shape, and you could see how your own individual story fit into a larger, more connective purpose? How does having a sense of purpose or calling help dissipate fear and enable you to develop the courage needed to achieve your dreams?