Back in June 2008 I posted this piece called ‘Nothing left to lose’. While talking with a companion (Finding Ground) I was telling them about this dream, looked up the post and saw that it would be a good one to update and repost. So, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. Updates to the original post are obvious from their italicization and being in parenthesis. Would love feedback…
About 13 (15) years ago I had a dream that I will live-into for the rest of my life (yep, that’s still in effect).
In the dream, I’m part of the life of a retreat center or monastery of some sort. The center is on an island and on top of a large plateau or mountain with ocean surrounding. I can remember walking to the edge and looking downward and outward and feeling an unbounded spaciousness. I also remember looking intently at a prayer rug–maybe Tibetan in origin–in a cool and shaded walkway inside the center and actually seeing the colors and patterns as if for the first time, and being totally engrossed for an unmeasured amount of time by the beauty of the rug.
My ‘job’ was to sit with people without talking, until they laughed. I wore some kind of ceremonial garment–light yellow maybe or white. I sat on pillows and was pretty ancient-of-days. I sat with people who visited the monastery and would open to them, as they sat in front of me on their own pillows. Their work was to bring their worn out, tired, drama-filled life to this moment and be full of whatever they were full of. In the sitting, I don’t remember doing anything–I was just being with them and allowing them to experience themselves in a broader perspective by my lack of willingness to keep them in boxes: crazy, insane, broken, defended, exhausted. Whatever box they thought they were in–even a happy one–my job was to ground it and expand it. We allowed each other to empty ourselves of guilt from past moments, expectations of the present moment, and of straining towards the next moment.
The only ‘rule’: no words could be exchanged. And from that simple place, deep rolling laughter would eventually bubble up like an artesian well for both of us. Sometimes it was days before this happened.
I woke from the dream startled by the clarity of the messages for my current and future self.
I didn’t know this when I had the dream, but I am an enneatype 7 on the enneagram. As I have learned a little about this honorable spiritual psychology in the past 5 years, it has opened to me the hole-in-the-soul of the 7 as well as the grace of the 7. These are polarities, of course. The hole: tending to trivialize my life because of fears of commitment and duty. The grace of the 7: the ability to experience and share the exquisite joy at the heart of the universe.
So the inner work that I have done up to this point in my life has been around allowing myself to be transformed of my need to run when confronted with problems or issues that threaten to overwhelm. To allow myself to be needy. To release being the seeker and allow being the finder. I find that as I stand, open-hearted to the world, with my feet planted on the earth, all manner of strengths and abilities come to me that don’t lock me into a way of doing or being, and the freedom that I thought I needed at an earlier part of me now just ‘is’.
I have spent almost my entire career in non-profit work, mostly with hospice and currently in child advocacy. Now in my early 50′s, the once silent pull to move to another, less-hectic, more spacious way of living has turned into a cacophony. Whatever the drive was to ‘do-for’ is painlessly being replaced by a longing to be-with. To move through my days with a rhythm that is my own.
I have the capacity and desire to be-with family, garden, human-friends, animal-friends, community, etc in a new way. Without trauma or confusion this way is being unearthed and explored, one step at a time. (This is the most profound change that I am noticing…very little drama or confusion, even with large life-movement.)
And…I need to make a living, as non-profit wages don’t tend to foster large nest-eggs. Here’s the outline for the next few years, written with a left brain bullet-style but will be implemented with right brain non-linearity:
- take the practicum training to become a spiritual director. I have all the background and theory. I just have never finished the loop. Do I think I can make a living at doing this? No, but it will be part of the ‘make-over’ and it will lend me valuable insight into the world through the eyes of those who ask me to walk beside them.
(As you can see from my new blog, Finding Ground, I am doing just this. I have a cracker-jack Spiritual Director who is also does didactic teaching sessions with me and provides me with consultation on my work with the companions with whom I am honored to sit.)
- keep writing, connecting. There may be a book in here someplace. (Still working on this!)
- do more teaching and presenting (Every chance I get, I take it…)
- find a creative, non-intrusive way to have the website I host bring revenue (I no longer am looking for this. VTH is just what it is, a communal web with a fine stable of bloggers, many of them new at the medium. It continues to be a site that engages the everyday spirituality in a banquet of ways.)
- continue to walk the path of fire keeper and initiate in the Sacred Fire Community to help us all find the joy of real community (While I have removed myself from the Sacred Fire Community (SFC), I have deep respect for it and the good folks who are part of it. What I learned from this separation, even though I have not written about it in any public forum, is that I will never again not listen to my heart. This path is one of heart, and as mine got less hectic, it was stunningly clear that my path and the path of the community that gathers, was different than the SFC. I continue to hold monthly fires, with additional celebratory or ad hoc ones. The community continues to deepen and flourish. And I will forever be an initiate of fire.)
So in the working out of this re-structuring of my psyche to fit the wisdom of my heart, the images of the dream stay tuned and focused. Is that dream/wisdom figure an actual representation of a future me? Or is it,that the dream metaphor taking shape in a totally different way to the same effect? That effect is for me to ‘teach what I most need to learn’:
Love our wild and precious lives. Nothing and no one, including one’s self of course, is worth squandering. Notice everything. The mystery is far deeper and broader and wider than we can imagine–but go ahead and keep imagining. Life finds a way. (Couldn’t say it any better.)
And so, as I sit in my companioning room, and the joy bubbles up, I know that I’m doing what’s mine to do. Showing up, sitting with folks. Transforming energy together and waiting for deeper joy.
I love the image of that old wise woman laughing and cracking up with the endless parade of once-perplexed and now-free friends. I am slowly but surely be-coming her. (Yes, indeedy I am! It’s an everyday miracle.)