Recently, on an early morning in Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I read a photo essay about The Middle of Nowhere.
Being a hopeless romantic, I was immediately fascinated with the theme: unspoiled terrain crossed by trailblazers who breathe solitude and seek freedom, who yearn to be far from the madding crowd.
So how do I find The Middle of Nowhere?
I have found it often finds you!
Even when I’ve taken part in marathons with thousands of runners, I’ve always traveled to a couple quiet miles where I feel like I’m the only person on the course. I talk more easily with angels who are helping me finish.
When I lived in a monastery, the monks were fond of saying that we arose at 4 a.m. so that the angels could hear our prayers more clearly!
This summer I’ll run a marathon on the eastern end of O‘ahu with probably only 50 others on the course. With far fewer participants than many marathons, I get to know the other runners and we all celebrate that feeling of being alone but still with each other.
Isn’t a marathon a kind of guided course? And isn’t life?
When I was a young teenager, I visited Germany for the first time, was separated from other students in my high school exchange program, and was lost. I walked eight miles back to my host family not knowing where I was.
But maybe I did.
A few years later I learned that the path I chose was a pilgrimage route traveled by my foremothers and forefathers since the 1300s.
The Middle of Nowhere also finds me when I write poems and wonder what direction they will take, if I’m struggling as a parent, if I move out of an uncomfortable interaction with someone knowing that I may not have been perfect but gave it my best effort.
Where this all leads me is to a place of gratitude and acceptance, to know The Middle of Nowhere can be a bit daunting, but that the courage to embrace it is always a way to learn and keep going another mile.