This matter of living with inner storms, uncertainties, questions and confusion continues to be the stuff of life. Yesterday I saw my Spiritual Director and explored this to some depth. I had already discovered two images that emerged and seem to offer a richness at this time – one is that of a chrysalis and the other of the Exodus. Both hold a sense of being in a state of transition without the knowledge of what may lie ahead. The chrysalis not knowing that it may turn into a butterfly and the journey of the Hebrew people in the wilderness offering no sense of a new life in the Promised Land. There might be hints and guesses but no experience of what lies ahead. Once again I am in the process of letting go of the past (which contains rich and important material for the future) and cannot ‘go back’. I am aware of being drawn by certain deep feelings associated with particular experiences in the past and need to discover what they may still have to offer. But there is a temptation to long to return to the experience and forget the greater value of what lay beneath them.
The other image that emerged during my time with my Director was that of the Woman at the Well in John’s gospel and this seems to be equally important for it offers a way into that ‘spring of living water’ that lies in the heart of us all. At present it is difficult to gaze far into the depths – the waters are too stirred by all the events connected with leaving the parish, moving home and emerging (that word again) from 35 and more years of having an external structure to shape, form and nurture my life and sense of calling. And of moving away from community in both its specific (the Religious Life) and general form (being a parish priest) to life in partnership with another. Transition indeed!
What emerged yesterday was the importance of staying in the process, of giving time to opening myself to those depths in the presence of God who is both within and beyond them. The ‘distractions’ that occur during times of prayer contain the gold that is hidden in the dross. I realise the importance of staying with the process of refinement even though this feels like being in the fire. The danger is to drift from distraction into a desolate place: the invitation is to stay in the Wilderness and have faith there is a Promised Land.