As spiritual seekers we give too much credence to those who have been walking the spiritual path for a long time, the spiritual giants, the spiritual leaders of the past. While following the leads of the masters before us, never miss what the new spiritual seeker is and represents. That person may well have what we seek. The spiritual potential of all we see in the master is in the new seeker. They have fresh eyes, as their transformation, their spiritual potential is being discovered in them for the first time. It should always stand to remind us that what we seek is already within us, it’s always in you , in all of us. We are that which we seek.
The new seeker has to have a transformation to become spiritually awakened, but they also can’t attain, achieve or “get” it. Why? Because the spiritual life force already resides within them. It’s just hidden, it’s blocked. To find the Sunlight of the Spirit within is just a matter of removing all the things, such as jealousy, pride, fear and self-centeredness that are blocking us. No easy task. But the new seeker who has experienced the despair that drives us to Spirit, awakened to the Truth, and having seen the Light, reminds us to look at what is blocking ourselves today. What can we sweep away to let the Light in?
Meditate for a few moments on the story of the amazing young woman, Joan of Arc. Saints came to her in visions instructing her to support Charles VII and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. To arm herself, she depended on donated items for her armor, horse, sword and banner. She had seen the Light. What if no one had recognized the God within her was real; had missed the transformation, had discounted her for her lack of education, her sex, her lack of financial status, her poor language skills, her social status, or her lack of military experience?
Historian Stephen W. Richey best explained Joan of Arc’s role as a new source of hope for France. “After years of one humiliating defeat after another, both the military and civil leadership of France were demoralized and discredited. When the Dauphin Charles granted Joan's urgent request to be equipped for war and placed at the head of his army, his decision must have been based in large part on the knowledge that every orthodox, every rational option had been tried and had failed. Only a regime in the final straits of desperation would pay any heed to an illiterate farm girl who claimed that the voice of God was instructing her to take charge of her country's army and lead it to victory.”
Winning two wars and saving France did not come without costs. She was wounded twice, shot with an arrow both times in battle and suffered a badly wounded leg and walked with a limp. She was captured in England and held, later to be transferred to a prison in France. Because French law prevented her from being charged as a war criminal, she was kept in prison in France for cross-dressing. Though her defense for dressing in armor and later like a man was for battle and to protect herself from the advances of the men who held her in prison captive, after several trials she was still sentenced to death. She turned 19 waiting for her execution.
We should remember that story when talking to young spiritual seekers. What a life Joan led in 19 years! What conviction, spirit, purpose and humility resided within her for a greater purpose! When talking with someone new to the spiritual life, a young person just questioning “Is there more to life? How can I find peace and joy in my life? Where can I be of service?” I lean in and listen. Age and wisdom, especially when it comes to spiritual matters are not always tied together. Having an open mind and listening to the stories of those with fresh new perspectives is just as important, if not more so.
Are you open to the younger spiritual seeker? Or for that matter even the seeker who is just beginning his/her journey? Are you listening? Are you new to the spiritual life yourself but think you can only learn from those have been on the spiritual journey for years—those that have the perspective of age? Perhaps you are more jaded than you might think, assuming there’s nothing to learn from someone just beginning to ask questions and seek the spiritual life. I encourage you to put the false assumptions of wisdom and age aside and lean in. After all, isn’t having an open-mind part of being a spiritual seeker? You just might gain a new perspective and let more light into your life.