May 11, 2012

Layers and Locations

I had an amazing transition-time dream last night. Like a lot of my dreams it took the form of an adventure. There were curious but telling locations: a dark intersection at night, a celebratory event with friars, a hospital that turned out to be dedicated to St. Francis, Newhallville (a neighborhood near where I grew up), and the home of a high school classmate. Between these there were various means of transportation: walking with the GPS on my phone malfunctioning and a ride each in a soccer-mom van and a dumb waiter. Some of the friars were in the dream, as well as other people I haven't seen or thought about in ages.

In one part of the dream I was cooking. It was like one of the afternoons when it's my turn to prepare the friars' supper. The funny part was that people kept bringing me new ingredients. Since the new items I kept receiving were of very high quality, and also to be polite, I had to keep revising the meal in order to include them in the dish. It got to be very challenging. Isn't that a rich image of the spiritual life? God gives us increasingly rare and beautiful graces, and we are left with the challenge of integrating these into the whole of our journey with all of its weeds and wheat, thereby forever arriving at a new grasp of ourselves and who we are before and in God.

The dream reminded me of some truths about people and places in the journey. Because of God's eternity, and because our spiritual lives are nothing but our participation in the mystery of God, our spirituality is somehow simultaneous over the whole of life. When we enter into a new relationship, for example, we bring into it everyone else to whom we have related. This is why we are all such blessed messes of true love and destructive pathology in all of our relationships. Salvation is the process by which each relationship becomes ever more chaste and charitable, with new ones starting at a better baseline. Places exert a similar influence; the places we have been have formed us, and we bring them into the new places we settle. I guess that's why religious life-options like the monastic vow of stability or the mendicant life of itinerancy are so spiritually potent.

In my prayer today I'm just thanking God for everyone and each place I take with me into this new life.


Phil Wood said...

There's a lot of wisdom in this post, which struck me in at least two ways. What you say about relationships is very true. Only, I suspect usually they get harder as we grow older. I speak as someone divorced and remarried. Your perspectives on simultaneous spirituality are hopeful. It's possible to see the possibility of recapitulation.

It also struck me that what you say of relationships is also true of tradition. We would like to be positive about the past, but so often it seems like 'baggage'. Again, I'm thinking what recapitulation might look like, or perhaps 'restitution':

Anonymous said...

I suppoose that is the spiritual support of the pattern of religious life or even prayer life that underpins faith. The time of every season even if every season is just that little bit different so you still have to make sense of it as a new creation; experience it as the first time, the first dawn. Looking at Creations show us that life is made up of all that lived before - I remember walking through the olive groves in Assisi and see the flowers and fresh shoots on the ancient tree hags. Inter-relationship and interdependence is what moves us on.