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Delight, Desires, and Discernment

Delight, Desires, and Discernment

long ricketsy wooden bridge leading into fog

In David Whyte’s poem “The Old Interior Angel,” he comes to a long bridge over a seemingly unbridgeable chasm. A bridge so long, so thin, and so frightening, that he finds he cannot bring himself to cross it.

And then this happens (from the Christian Century blog called “Ash Wednesday: A Time for Self-Compassion”):

He [David Whyte] sat down on the ground and stared at the bridge for hours, unable to proceed. “There are times when the hero has to sit down,” he said later. “At some bridges in life the part of you that always gets it done has to sit down.” Then an old Tibetan woman came along, gathering yak dung for fuel. She walked with a limp. “Namaste,” she said with a smile. Then she turned and limped across the bridge. Immediately, without thinking, he rose up and followed. Sometimes, he realized, it is “the old interior angel,” the unheroic, limping, unequipped part of ourselves, that gets us to the other side. [The quotations here from Whyte are from his cd on Self-Compassion.]

“Sometimes the part of you that always gets it done has to sit down.”


“Sometimes the part of you that always gets it done has to sit down.”

Sometimes you cannot rely on your skill or your experience or your knowledge or your talent.

silhouette of rock climber with a pick axe against a backgrop of blue, foggy mountains

Sometimes you just must wait for the angel, the leading, the invitation from God, the waiting arms of the Goddess, for some of us, even the sheer force of necessity can overwhelm the terrifying fear.


But sometimes you just cannot do it alone.

Sometimes you need to sit and wait until the angel comes and says (as the one in Whyte’s poem did), “Namaste,” the divine in me recognizes the divine in you. So you can say, “Namaste, and follow.”

What bridges are you feeling unable to cross? Whom do you need to follow to cross them, and how are you to find that friend, that “old interior angel”?

Are they cultural bridges? Theological bridges? Bridges of phobia or mental instability?

So whom or what can you follow?

For some of us, the Bible is the answer. Psalm 37:4—“Delight in Adonai, and Adonai will give you the desires of your heart.” Delight in God. Delight in God, and God will get you across the bridge of your secret hopes. That’s how that reads to me.

“Delight in Adonai,” delight in the Lord… What does it mean to delight in something or someone, and how often do we do it?

I read a story once, and I long ago forgot where I read it, so if you know, please tell me! It was of a man, married to a woman named Bridget. And the man’s watch had engraving on it. The engraving said, “Do something nice for Bridget today.”

I always thought that Patrick, or Seamus, or James, or some other Irish name I’d given him (Yes, I assumed a monocultural marriage. I’ll blame it on today’s being Patrick’s Day.)…I always thought that Seamus looked at his watch every day and thought of his wife. That he did little things for her that he thought of every day because he delighted in her.

Do you delight in anyone? Do you delight in the Divine? Do you look at falbright red and orange leaves on trees. some of them have fallen onto a curving path belowl foliage or spring flowers or untouched snow and say, “Whoever invented this was a genius?”

And beyond just delighting, we read that Adonai will give us the desires of our hearts.

Learning the deepest desires of our heart is part of what discernment is all about, and discernment (as you may know) is one of my favorite topics. So, the “desires of your heart” are important to know and understand. Quite simply, it is easier to reach goals if you have goals to reach. If you can identify the deepest desires, the hopes of your heart, you are more likely to be able to cross the bridge and get there.

Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, said that the will of God is found in the deepest desires of our hearts. And the Psalm verse says that when we delight in God, we will be given the desires of our hearts.

In part, I take this to mean that discernment, part of it, is delighting in God. That part of learning what “way will open,” what the “will of God” is, what our “vocation” is, what we are to do, what are good choices, is simply to delight in the Divine.

In one of the most frequently used Wiccan liturgical texts, we hear, “… [L]et there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.” Mirth and reverence. If awe in the face of God is the beginning of wisdom, then mirth—joy, good humor, delight—may be part of that wisdom, that discernment, as well.

So let us delight in the Divine. And let us find there the deepest desires of our hearts.

If this process interests you…if you want to work on discernment and delight, I invite you to click here and learn more about the sacred conversation, the spiritual accompaniment I offer. Perhaps we might work together to help you uncover the deepest desires of your heart.

medium-sized white dog with brown markings (perhaps a spaniel) running through a creek with a stick in its mouth

One Response

  1. This was about the best news for me today. I love this poem of David’s. Thanks for unpacking it so well. Namaste….

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