I hung around for one more beer following Sunday night’s Bible and Brews gathering at West End Ale Haus. We discussed the Parable of the Farmer and Seeds. Is Jesus teaching us about God’s abundance? Yes. Is Jesus directing his listeners to pay attention and be good soil for his teachings? Yes. Is Jesus teaching parables so he can confuse some of his listeners. Yes, Jesus’ parables offer an array of optional learning. Life is a parable. Listen, learn, and welcome to the adventures of spiritual growth if you trust yourself and God enough.
The conversations were awesome although I really wish we could find a bar where the acoustics are more cooperative. Listening to 80s soft, rock while the server inquires about who is drinking the Southern Tier 2xIPA even as someone from the far end of the table offers a profound insight about Jesus’ teachings requires unique multitasking auditory skills. Nonetheless, these are great gatherings, not just because we’re learning more about our faith. We’re getting to know one another. St. Paul calls that becoming “members of The Body.”
Somewhere during the night, our conversation wandered into what it means to find one’s self in bad soil (tough times). I’ve been wrestling with some of my chronic family systems baggage as well as other anxieties for the past few days. I was moping about my crap until Erin shared her shitty soil story. Some years ago, she experienced the following coincidental moments – All within two weeks time:
1.) Her brother was murdered.
2.) Her husband announced he was divorcing her.
3.) She failed her medical exams.
4.) She suddenly had single parental and immediate responsibilities for her three young sons, with no place to live.
I was worrying about my sister. How I would manage my bills for August. Really?
Amazingly, Erin went on to share her story. Co-workers she hardly knew supported her through the tumultuous waters. She discovered that the most threatening and uncertain days of her life led to her finding her most authentic work. She articulated what a great fortune it was to meet a man who would become her true soul mate. She survived and we are all better because of it.
Erin possesses a unique understanding of people’s needs. She would not be able to share her story and her gifts as brilliantly if she had not gone through her soul’s dark night . The depths of despair entered her into the light of a resurrected and more purposeful life for herself, her children, and the people she loves and serves.
Eckhart Tolle suggests that people who navigate their way through the woods of one way of being into another are awakening to their truest self. Transformation requires letting one’s ego die so that a person may be reborn. (Tolle, 2011) Goethe wrote: “Life belongs to the living and he who lives must be prepared for changes.” Jesus in Thomas’ Gospel. proclaims “Blessed is the person who has suffered (Laboured); he (she) has found life.
The shadowy cells of our subconscious selves innately and paradoxically cause us pain even as they prompt us to give birth to something or someone new. I infer the reason that childbirth is equally painful and rewarding is because a mother loses a significant part of herself even as she provides new life to a human being. In spiritual terms, a seeker must let go of the old way of being including the suffering associated with old wounds. Disciples must exercise their faith, discipline their egos, and demonstrate courage that is sufficiently strong to overcome doubts and obstacles alike. Two or three pale ales in the company of trustworthy and vulnerable friends help a great deal. Someone who rescues you away from a dark night’s dungeons and safely holds you until the morning’s dawn is a divine angel who you should thank unceasingly.
Morning’s grace for me has come via the invitation to spend a few days with very close friends in Eagles Mere. We played board games, drank wine, and ate spaghetti last night. I’ve napped for about three hours since I’ve been here. I’ve dreamed dreams that seem to be important though I can’t quite get my conscious mind on what my inner being is working through or trying to convey to me. Life is a parable asleep and awake.
This morning, I took a three mile silent walk in the woods and wondered. Two white-tail does kept unconcerned eyes and ears upon me as I stepped. My mind and soul reflected upon my newfound friend’s tenacity. She inspires me. I am encouraged further by Christ’s presence in the gathering of people where I now live because of the previous dark nights and bright mornings I’ve experienced. What does it mean for us to be New Testament people in 21st Century CE circumstances?
I sadly pondered whether I would be able to re-accomplish what I did some 20 years ago when I encountered my darkest night. My Air Force career went up in smoke because of my sexual orientation. My boyfriend walked out on me. My faith in the world’s goodness was temporarily shattered. I abandoned relationships under the clouds of an investigation and returned home to re-start my life. A group of unknown Episcopalians took me in and cared for me as a family member. I was reborn and it hurt like divine hell. The costs I paid for it I would prefer not to pay again. Who can say?
In the midst of my own ongoing worldly and spiritual uncertainties, I continue to believe. God’s Graceful gifts are like living with someone who always runs late. The miraculous beauty of living spiritually is that love is present on this side of death and always on the other side.
Blessings along The Way …