Perhaps this happens to you, too. You are going about whatever you are going about doing, when suddenly the image of a very particular person, place, or moment pops into your mind. The person, place, or moment may or may not be of deep emotional significance to you–and the image of the person or place might vanish rapidly, unless you pause and attend to it.
This happens often to me, usually when I am alone and quietly doing something, or when I am near sleep. Suddenly I’ll see the place I would turn off the main road north of L’Anse, Michigan, to get to piano lessons or to see my friend Kathy–both some 10-15 miles away from my home, on rural roads going up and down through near the forested Huron Mountains. Or I’ll suddenly see the face of a classmate to whom I’d never been close, nor thought of for many years. Or I’ll suddenly remember getting out of the car with my old girlfriend Carolyn, after she parked near an alley a couple of blocks from a restaurant to which we’d be going in Old Irving Park, a northwest neighborhood in Chicago. I will find myself looking down that alley–perhaps I’d noticed it at the time, perhaps it had seemed less carefully manicured and peopled, more wild, than the main streets. Or I will suddenly find myself in a lonesome-feeling country cafe at a crossroads in the middle of the U.P., a place I stopped once for a piece of blueberry pie on my way to visit my grandparents, a fly or two buzzing about and the old men who hung out at the middle of the cafe in the late afternoon starting at me, a stranger in their midst.
I have found myself beginning to pray with the images of such random people, places, or moments. The prayer is brief, but it feels right somehow to offer one, as if the Spirit is winging a soul our way–or as if we ourselves are winged by the Spirit to a place.
Sometimes I feel invited to meditate on the frequent images. Some of the images that come often to me involve being in roads in places I once lived–often roads that are out of the way, or very little peopled. Perhaps there is significance in this–or perhaps attending to the patterns of arising images cultivates significance somehow–an understanding, a sense of direction.