We all struggle with our calling, our purpose, where we are headed, whatever you want to call it. When I was in high school I first learned in plane geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. The next year we learned in solid geometry that actually on a solid sphere like earth the shortest distance between points is an arc. I still can’t convince Suzy of this when going on a road trip.
In each of our life’s journeys we need to think of an arc as well. An arc shaped journey is more difficult to visualize. Think of looking at the horizon and a setting sun. There are limits to how far we can see, and until we reach the end of our journey we cannot locate the center of the arc. It also doesn’t often seem to be the right path (think of Suzy and her road map). It seems indirect although admittedly it does at time remove some obstacles in our way, but encounters some we can’t see.
The abolitionist Thomas Parker said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Sometimes we think we need to simply move from one point to the other to reach our destination, but a linear progression is impossible. The next step simply cannot follow the previous one. It’s tempting to push straight ahead, but it’s either not possible or it involves running over something or someone.
Each of our journeys is more subtle than a direct line or path. Our path almost always changes along the way. Like the appropriate arc on a long touchdown pass the right shape is only visible to the quarterback – in our life’s case he’s God. We see it only after the completion, visible only in hindsight and reflection. It becomes clear only as it unfolds.
The important thing to keep in mind is that we need to follow the arc to its completion.