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The one thing I am certain of since coming into ministry is never to be certain of what God is doing, or what God is going to do …

There have been times where I have been adamant about how or where God will use me only to find that it’s never in the way I expect it to be. I started out saying things like I believe God wants me to do x, only to find I am needed to do y …

I have found over and over again that the seasons of life are just that – seasons. When a season is over it’s time to let go and move on to a new place or a new role or a new way of being. It can be quite hard. Saying goodbye to people who were a part of our pasts because we now have a radically different present can been hard for us and confusing for the people who we leave behind. But it’s the way of life. Seasons change, people change, circumstances change and all we can be certain of is that we need not fear this change – We hear that phrase over and over in the scriptures, ‘Do not be afraid…’

But change can be scary, allowing the old the space to die to make room for the new can be confusing and painful. Just when we think we have our positions in life secured so a new experience pops up, asking to be learned or understood. We are going to experience that here at seminary whilst we come to grips with the loss of our friend and our leader. It’s difficult balancing the act of mourning with the necessity to plan and make room for new leadership – students have already started speculating, second guessing what will happen in the future – it’s natural I suppose. We miss Ross but we need someone to take the reins and lead us forward, not only as a seminary, but as a people in mourning.

I have had a series of dreams recently which seem to point me to another one of these seasons in my own life. Last night for instance, I dreamt I was walking around a greenhouse. There was a shadowy figure on one side of the garden who I recognise as my masculine self, the animus as CG Jung referred to it. It’s not always the same person because throughout my life that figure has changed as my personality has changed or matured, as my need for guidance has moved me to different places and so I recognised this person potentially as my current animus. (I say potentially, because I am still wrestling with the dream images).

All around where he was sitting, the leaves on the trees where browning and dying and as I moved to cut them down I became aware that it was only on one side of the garden. The rest of the garden was green and flourishing, but around this individual some ‘work’ needed to be done. (‘In its primary ‘unconscious’ form the animus is a compound of spontaneous, unpremeditated opinions which exercise a powerful influence on the woman’s emotional life’ – CG Jung, Memories, Dreams & Reflections)

So the question this dream asks of me is where in my life do I need to let go of old ways of being or thinking which are influencing my life at this time? Where in my life do I need to make some space for new growth?

What I find really interesting is that the night before I dreamt I was moving house but there was an enormous, heavy box blocking the doorway and we (I had a team of helpers) could not move it. It was blocking the exit which meant I couldn’t shift the other furniture out. Through a series of corresponding symbols I identified an aspect of seminary life which needs to be addressed. I think I know what is standing in my way of moving forward and my dream from last night seems to confirm this awareness, with that block out of the way, I am free to move ‘outside’ and continue the act of clearing and pruning any other parts that are ready for change.

This process of self-awareness and consciousness aids in my personal journey, whilst moving me in a direction I trust to God’s guidance. It is not yet clear what needs to be done or how, but I am at least conscious of the need to allow God  the space to show me what needs to be cut. “I am the true vine, and God is the gardener. God cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit God prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”. (John 15 1-2)

Change is certain. Death is unavoidable. But, as a resurrection people we are always assured that life transcends death, that hope is possible in the midst of trying times, that light shines out from the darkest places and that although this may not be immediately evident, we need not fear change because it heralds new life.

In Richard Rohr’s devotion today he spoke about the ‘feminine face of God’, this is how he closed …

The feminine body can be seen as a cauldron of transformation. Her body turns things into other things—her body turns a love act into a perfect little child. Yet, in her heart, she knows SHE did not do it. All she had to do was to wait and eat well, to believe and to hope for nine months. This gives a woman a very special access to understanding spirituality as transformation—if she is able to listen.

God is whispering in my dreams about the need for new life. I’m going to make some space to listen, allowing the mystery to unfold in its own time …

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