Tomato cage

Driving rules keep us from crashing into each other. When we are at a four way stop, driving rules let us know who gets to go first. If we didn’t have that we would all enter the intersection and crash into each other. Social rules let us know the same thing. When we crash into each other we all get into a big mess.

I know a lady who didn’t like the Reno Healthrhythms protocol. She felt it wasn’t organic. She wanted people to just flow around and enjoy making noise together.

Consider a map. If you are going to go to a new city you need a map to tell you how to get there. You don’t just get in your car and drive around following your feelings until you happen to end up where you need to be. You are very likely to get very lost doing it that way.

With this protocol we have a specific place we are trying to get to. We are trying to get to disclosure and honesty. We are trying to get real. It isn’t about drumming at all. It is about getting people to use drums as a way to communicate and connect. Not only do they learn how connect with each other, but they also learn how to connect with themselves.

It is like a tomato cage. The tomato cage doesn’t force the tomatoes to grow into an unnatural shape. It actually gives them a structure upon which to grow and get strong. Tomatoes that don’t have a tomato cage end up sprawling all over the ground and getting eaten by bugs. Slugs will grow fat feeding on them. The tomatoes will get mushy and gross from being on the ground. So you have to have a tomato cage to keep the tomatoes standing upright. The protocol does the same thing. It provides a skeleton or a form to shape the desired result.

It doesn’t constrict. It actually strengthens. It is the map. It is the driving instructions. It is the thing that gets us from here to there. Otherwise we are likely to end up nowhere.

Sometimes nowhere is a good place. Sometimes we think too much and we have too much structure. Sometimes it is important to do things that don’t involve thinking. Mindlessness is sometimes useful. But sometimes it just becomes an absence of anything and we end up nowhere.

Discipline and order

I know someone who got very upset about the idea of having to do prayers. I’d told him about the Jewish idea of having to say 100 blessings a day. He didn’t think this was a good idea. He thought that it sounded oppressive.

But discipline and order are good things. If we impose order upon our lives we can get stronger in many ways. Otherwise we are formless.

If your leg is broken you put a cast on it to make it stronger. The cast gives it a shape to grow into so it doesn’t grow crooked.

If you have a bonsai tree you carefully shape it with wires to make it have a beautiful shape.

If you are pouring concrete you have to put a form down so that the concrete doesn’t go everywhere.

The same is true of tomatoes or of peonies. You have to give them something to grow up against so that they don’t grow wild.

When we impose a discipline to our lives we are making ourselves into disciples. We are making ourselves stronger by making ourselves fit into a particular form or mold, one that we know to be good for us. It isn’t something that we have to do but it is something that we should do.

It is just like with Peter when he was walking out on the water to Jesus, he said “Lord if you command me I will go”. Peter needed to be commanded by Jesus in order to walk on the water.

We too can work miracles if we allow ourselves to be commanded. We allow ourselves to be commanded by adopting order and discipline into our lives. We aren’t giving up control or free will at all. We are strengthening ourselves by allowing order into our lives.

Spiritual director – probation officer

Sometimes I feel like my spiritual director is my probation officer. I have to check on with her every month to see how I’m doing. That makes it sound like I don’t know how I’m doing, or like I’m going to the doctor for a checkup. It is kind of both.

A spiritual director is kind of like a guru. Their goal is “intimacy with God”, and while that is pretty nebulous, it is a good goal. If any minister I’d ever had over me talked like she did, I’d still be in church. But sometimes it is really hard work. It is one on one, for an hour. It is really intense.

I feel awkward going. She cuts right through the muck, like a laser. She sees through my veils and obstacles that I put up, voluntarily and involuntarily.

Sometimes I hide. There are some things that I know we disagree on, like salvation. I don’t feel that Jesus came to save us. I feel that Jesus came to tell us that we aren’t broken and don’t need to be saved. There is a huge difference here. I know that I differ from mainline Christianity in this. I also know that I’m in alignment with the words of Jesus in my belief. So I keep on saying it in my blog. She and I, however, we butt heads over it. She says we are broken. I say that Jesus says we are as good as we are going to be and that is good enough.

I also feel that she’s holding back in telling me things. I’m the kind of person who needs explicit instructions, and I feel that she’s the kind of person who wants me to figure it out on my own. Perhaps she feels that if she tells me something that I should be experiencing, that I’ll fake it. Kind of like how if you read about a particular disease, you might feel like you have the symptoms and you don’t. Or like if you explain something a certain way, it will frame that experience for that person. I feel she wants me to have my own experiences.

I dread going almost every month, but this month is worse. After going, I immediately want to go again. Then a month later when it is time to go, I don’t want to at all. I think I don’t know what to talk about. I think that whatever I’ve experienced isn’t enough. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it all wrong.

Am I cheating, by wanting to skip? Am I falling to the wayside, or am I on the right path?

I’d like to work on the manuscript for my book. I’d like to catch up on sleep. I’d like to paint. Wednesday mornings are nice – I don’t have to go in to work until the afternoon. If I go visit her, I lose a lot of that time. It is only once a month, though.

Sometimes rules help, sometimes they hurt. What rule am I following here? Go once a month regardless? Do it automatically? Or feel it out? Discipline is the root of “disciple” after all.

Part of it is realizing that she works for me, not the other way around. I pay her for her services. It is like using a personal trainer, but for your soul. It is really weird and really awesome.

This month I decided to cancel. And I’m glad I did. I feel that if it is a choice, it is easier. God loves a cheerful giver, after all. If I go because I feel I have to go, then I’m missing the point. But then I also know that if I slack off too much I’ll get out of line/habit/practice. Order is important to me.

It is all a balancing act. Order / freedom. I chose order, of my free will. But too much order starts to feel stifling.