I was asked by my spiritual director what words God would use to describe me. As usual these days I don’t get words but images when she asks this kind of question. Then I have to translate the images.
It is kind of like dream analysis. It has nothing to do with the images in the dream, and everything to do with your impression of those images. For example, a wolf could be seen as a predator or as a protector. It all depends on your experience with the image.
In this case I saw a wooden block. Simple, unvarnished. No paint. The natural lines of the block were visible.
I didn’t understand this and I started pushing harder. I was asked for words and I’m coming up with images. I need more to work with. And a wooden block? How boring is that?
I got further images, of deep pits going straight down. I’m reminded of Celtic burial pits, that were up to 20 feet deep and had all sorts of offerings in them, including entire trees.
What does this mean? I felt that it was in part about staying in one place, and being OK with it. About accepting that where I am now is where I need to be. About trust, and not struggling so much. About not having to come up with words all the time.
But a block? There’s more to it than that.
A block is finished by another person. It didn’t make itself.
I’m reminded of the Masonic idea of the finished block as a symbol for the completed person. It is called an ashlar.
It is stable. It stays put. It is a good base for other blocks. Blocks are used for cornerstones. Blocks, added together, create buildings. Each block has to be strong and well-cut. There’s something important in this image for me, but I don’t quite have it all yet.
I can see the pattern of the rings on the block in my image. Years and years of growth are required to get it to this point. It isn’t an overnight thing. That’s important too.
Then on Friday at yoga the image that kept coming to me was that of a blue robin’s egg. Simple and strong, this tiny thing has within it a bird seed. It will develop into a bird. In one way, it already is a bird, we just can’t see it yet. Time, plus bird egg equals bird. The bird on the inside doesn’t suffer from the definitions that we give it. It already is a bird even if we wouldn’t call it that.
It is so useful that things in nature are unaware that we have different words for them at different stages of their growth. The inchworm is the butterfly.
So all of this came from this image of a block. Be OK with where I am. Trust the process. Know that years and years of growth are necessary to get where I am. Know that others have shaped me, sometimes painfully. Know that that shaping has resulted in a stability that is useful.
This has been my biggest challenge, to get to this point. I don’t want to relax and slack off. I keep pushing myself because I know what I’m like when I don’t. But this image is telling me that I’m OK as I am, and to grow into it. The process is slow and painful, and I won’t do it all myself.
Somehow this image has helped me, even though it was so strange. It didn’t make any sense, but the more I thought about it and worked on it the more it was exactly the message I needed to hear at the time.
I’m still bummed that regular ministers aren’t like spiritual directors. If they were like spiritual directors, then I’d have stayed in church. Going to a spiritual director is very woo-woo, kinda New-Age meets Old School. It’s one on one and hard work. It uses visualization and it doesn’t make sense sometimes. Often I feel like I’m doing it wrong, but then I find out I’m not doing it wrong, I’m just doing something so new to me that I don’t know what to do. “Wrong” is to not do it at all. Doing anything openly, trustingly, honestly, is doing it right, even if it doesn’t make sense at the time.
So that alone is the best takeaway from having been part of the deacon discernment process. It wasn’t what I wanted, really. I didn’t want to be a deacon. I just wanted to learn how to be helpful to people on their spiritual paths. I wanted to be a soul-friend. I wanted to provide spiritual first aid. I didn’t want to be ordained, because I’m opposed to a hierarchy of lay versus ordained. But I did want the training and the accountability that comes with the training to be a deacon.
If nothing else, the bit of the process I went through was like turning the eye of the stove up to High. It boiled off quite a bit of unnecessary stuff pretty fast. It showed me the meat of the matter and let me know I don’t like meat. It showed me behind the curtain of the Episcopal church, and perhaps of all organized religion. That too was helpful. It showed me the machine has no heart.
So while I’m adrift right now, I keep getting messages from God that it’s OK. Adrift can be safer than stuck going nowhere.