The Inner and Outer Path – Part 2

Posted by Julie Elliot with guest contributor Janet Gear.

Photograph by Rhonda Pigott, alum of Pacific Jubilee

Photograph by Rhonda Pigott, alum of Pacific Jubilee

This is the second part of a blog that features Janet Gear, Assistant Professor of Public and Pastoral Leadership at the Vancouver School of Theology and member of the Pacific Jubilee Council. Janet shared her wisdom at a SoulGuiding residency during my training to be a spiritual director. At that residency, she helped us work with the eternal question how do we make a difference in the world?

Janet continues:

So when we ask a question like this, if we’re honest, we don’t really want to be told an answer – that would be a waste of a good question and an answer would be too small anyway. What we’re looking for is a way to have the question lead us somewhere, somewhere bigger than we are now, somewhere deeper than what we understand now, wider than our capacity to love now, freer than how we live now. That’s where we hope a question like this will lead us. A question this big, when we ask it from the heart, when we ask it with something at stake, is a companion for the long haul.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try
to love the questions themselves….Do not now seek the
answers which cannot be given you because you would not
be able to live them and the point is to live everything,
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually,
without noticing it, live along some distant day into
the answer. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

I don’t pretend to know what the poet Rilke meant exactly when he wrote that letter to the young poet about living the questions but it rings true for me that keeping a question within you sets you on a path toward the unfolding of a life in ways that having ready answers does not. Looking for answers is about putting things into your life; carrying questions is more about putting yourself into something larger than your life. This, of course, is what the spiritual life is about – about surrendering to something bigger, deeper, wider and freer than where we are now. It’s about letting go – not about holding on.

Read Part One of the blog here.


If you have any questions or comments about this blog, please be in touch with Julie Elliot, Communications for Pacific Jubilee. Email julie(at)pacificjubilee(dot)ca

The Jubilee Programs offer practical learning in spiritual growth, soul development and the art of spiritual direction. We explore the contemplative life through spiritual practices including the enneagram, integration of head/heart/body, silent retreats, “holy listening” in journey groups and contemplative prayer and meditation. Read more about spiritual direction by clicking on our 3 national programs: Ontario Jubilee, Pacific Jubilee, Prairie Jubilee