There were ten Christians who came to church on Thanksgiving Sunday. They all prayed “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” and they received the assurance of pardon.
They all went out humming the last hymn and returned to their good works; raising families, paying the mortgage, helping out with charities, doing their bit in the community.
But one came back to church the next Sunday with a question. “Who are you really Jesus and what are you up to? How can I truly show you my thanks?”.
And somewhere in the hour, perhaps between the offering and the closing hymn, this person heard a reply. It was an echo of their own question carried on imagination’s wings. It was the same question mirrored back, “Who are YOU really and why are you here? What is in your heart to give?”
And so began a journey of discovery. The one who came back with a question was different than the nine who had the answers going in - and coming back out - of church.
The nine believed they were doing their faithful duty serving Jesus by being good fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, workers, friends…
It is just that they are perhaps unaware of the Maker’s presence walking the path with them. They read the book and are following the instructions.
But the one who came back now walks and works with the Author. The one who came back heard his Maker’s invitation to know better her own/his own heart. And so began a relationship between the Divine Wisdom and a Human soul. So began a journey into self, into ego, and out the other side into service.
This story is really about me.
Lately I’ve been going in nine different directions. Septembers are like that. I’ve been coming up with plans and projects and possibilities - about what “I” could do here at George Street and in Peterborough.
Busy as I have been coming up with answers, solutions, ways to serve – I found my head swirling, my heart overwhelmed, and my guts churning with the problems posed. There’s only one of me, I thought. How can I be in all those places? How can I best serve?
And so I did what I do when I get into such a spin. I went on retreat.
I drove out to the place in the woods by the stream where my guides are waiting to remind me.
This guide, this coach if you like, helps me to go deep. She’s not interested in my analysis, or any details of my problems. She takes me to where my energy and imagination speaks.
And we found that my energy had shrunk into a very small place. My energy was all bottled up in my ego. What was “I” to do? How could “I” handle all these problems? What direction should “I” go first?
She laughed and told me it happens to her too and she set about reminding me of how wide, tall, deep and profound are my connections to all the world.
She got me to pour all that bottled ego energy out onto the wide wild landscape I carry with me in my imagination’s heart.
Do you have such a place in your imagination? Where there’s water, rocks, trees, birds, animals? Where your soul is most alive?
Journeying with imagination I visited the great grandmother tree. I leaned my back against her great wide trunk and immediately felt how deep her roots went into the ground and so – into the past.
From the roots she drew me up, through the branches of ego where I’d become entangled, to the crown of the forest and higher. As my spirit soared on imagination’s wings I could see again the breadth of my true self.
North, west, east, south, in every direction was the Maker’s bounty. In every direction the Maker had filled that space with not only potent possibilities but with Help.
I’d once again made the mistake in thinking that I was alone. I’d ignored the help, and the Helpers, waiting for me to open up, to untie the problem I’d knotted up with my answers, and ask the questions…
From where will the help arrive?
Who else out there cares about these things?
Who can see what I’ve been missing?
Who can bring what we need to move us forward?
Who is waiting for that piece I’ve got?
No longer is it my problem alone. My bottled angst is poured out ... and in the wind is transformed into seeds of hope. Instead of hoarding my problems until they make me ill, I toss them out to the Universe to see where they’ll land.
What this guide does for me is to help me Remember. She helps me remember that I am not alone. By guiding my imagination, she helps release the bottled energy caught up once again in my guts and get it flowing out beyond the ego-“I” to the places where I meets “us” and becomes so much more powerful than the small answers, tasks, and problem-solving I could come up with alone.
And so, like the one leper who returns, I go to that place of Thankfulness, of Noticing, of Remembering that I am not alone.
That we are not alone. When we Celebrate God’s Presence. When we ask for help. When we open our hearts to the wide, long, high, and deep reality of a God’s eye view that is so much more real than my small pedestrian problem-solving – there is healing, there is help, there is an open door to the questions I keep asking…“What will we do today, Jesus? Who will you bring? What surprises are around the next corner?”