“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Friday, December 07, 2007

Gratitude Reflection Day 5

A few nights ago I had a dream that I was homeless. I was living in my car with two children, a young boy and a young girl. The girl was my brother's child, the boy was mine. My brother had disappeared, left us, left the girl in my care. And we were homeless. I ended up at a friend's house, someone a knew a long time ago and haven't seen in 25 years. I asked this person if we could stay with him for a short while, just until I found a place to live. I knew the person would say yes, even if reluctant to do so, our presence would be very disruptive to his life.

I shared this dream with the Jungian. We talked about the obvious, what it means to be homeless. I spoke about feeling unanchored in my priesthood. I know who I am as a priest but the unanchored piece has to do with community - who I am priest to and with. This dream speaks volumes about my current parish and how I experience them in that dark place of my inner self. Homeless.

We also spoke about who this friend represents in my dream life. I am still working that out. He appears occasionally in my dreams, and has over these 25 years. Always in a similar capacity. I think he represents being cared for. I think he represents a simpler time in my life. A kind of anchor and stability. Which is odd, because in many ways this friendship was very destabilizing.

My life at this time is filled with uncertainty. I do not know what the future holds. At times I am fear-filled. Afraid of upsetting my family. Afraid of change. Afraid of the unknown.

Last night, before falling asleep, I read this reflection by Leslie D. Weatherhead, Prescriptions for Anxiety:

"When I was once passing through a very dark phase, due largely to physical illness - and of course when we are physically ill we all suffer both from a degree of anxiety and from regression to a more infantile level - I did not know whether to accept an onerous and very demanding position or withdraw from it. One day my wife said she thought the darkness could be part of God's training for the job. I came to accept that view. Fear itself can be used by God to equip us for our tasks, so long as we take the right attitude to it and do not let it cow us into surrender or into any of the many avenues of escape which the frightened mind suggests to us. I can only write down this simple testimony. Like everybody, I love and refer the sunny uplands of experience, when health, happiness and success abound, but I have learned far more about God and life and myself in the darkness of fear and failure than I have ever learned in the sunshine. There are such things as treasures in the darkness. The darkness, thank God, passes. But what one learns in the darkness, one possesses for ever. 'The trying things,' says Bishop Fenelon, 'which you fancy come between God and you, will prove the means of unity with him, if you bear them humbly. Those things that overwhelm us and upset our pride, do more good than all that which excites and inspirits us."

I am drawn to the thought that the darkness could be God's training for the job. My fear may be the very thing being used by God to equip me, but only if I do not give into the fear and turn away, or as Weatherhead says, "surrender" to the fear. God is leading me in a direction. Of course I have choices. Any change will destabilize me. But now I'm thinking that may be a Godly thing.

Today I am grateful for the Jungian. I am grateful for the various catalysts that help me navigate the waters of life. I am grateful for a space and a place, this blog, where I can journal and process. I put my fear on "paper" and brought it out of the dark hidden place of my being. Now I will journey through it and see what comes. I'm grateful that I believe in God and trust that God anchors my life. And, I'm grateful that sometimes life pulls the anchor, as I perceive it, and lets me drift into unknown waters, eventually coming to a place where I will know God more fully.