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At 7:15 A.M., I awoke with this instructive dream:

Jesuit friends invite me to join them for meetings before the opening of the retreat at their facility located on the Atlantic Coast. A reserve on my usual room, with the floral chintz shag and matching bedspread facing the ocean, awaits me. Other laypersons have also been invited. A friendly Jesuit smiles as he eases me into an armchair in the conference room. The topic under review is the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed.

Deep within my psyche, Jesuit friends, symbolized by masculine energy, affirmed my efforts to integrate the disparate pieces of my unlived life before spirit leaves my body. For what felt a long time, their warmth and camaraderie encouraged the arduous continuation of this work.

The topic of the conference, the culling of four Jesuits on staff, their services no longer needed, suggested outdated defense mechanisms that no longer work in my psyche: fantasy, idealization, dissociation, and denial. Such block the conscious embrace of reality where life happens: From childhood, I was only able to look around life’s corners, not participate. These defense mechanisms had kept me safe, in my self-imposed prison, but no longer are they useful in my search for psychic integration.

Awareness of their continuing presence demands activation of the “conscious contact” of Step Eleven. Only HP can release me from this tyranny, for that is what it is.

The dream’s setting, the feminine container of my room with the floral chintz swag over the window facing the ocean, supports this endeavor. I have only to be willing to participate, one moment at a time.

The Sacred Feminine is the ancient voice who sings the song of creation…that brings the divine spark into being—a quote taken from the Oneness of Life website. This description, in my perception, imbues each word in the 1941 novella, The Snow Goose written by Paul Gallico, a classic for generations.

Readers care deeply about the characters: the snow goose, the hunchback artist Philip, and skittish Fritha. Readers care about the setting: the abandoned lighthouse—home to Philip—off the coast of Essex, England, the teeming wildfowl from other continents, the restless sea of blues, greens and grays, and winter’s sting. Readers also care about the leitmotif of brokenness, exacerbated by the onset of World War II.

Within this breathing world of extremes, sparked by glimpses of the Sacred, readers can make peace with their own life passage; others, as well. Despite irregular joinings and awkward beginnings, everything fits together, and newness emerges to continue the song of creation.

In its utter simplicity, The Snow Goose speaks to our Covid-enmeshed world, a restless sea filled with uncertainty, change, even death. Denial, rationalization, and idealization have no place here, as also in the novella—Both Philip and Fritha face daunting experiences that brilliance their true spirits.

Certainly no one expected such upheavals in the fabric of our accustomed lives, but they are here. Acceptance pries open hearts, lets go of the inevitable, and deepens trust in the Sacred Feminine…the ancient voice who sings the song of creation…that brings the divine spark into being: within you and me.

Together, we help facilitate freshness in barren places and breathe deeply, despite winter’s hoarfrost. For this, total reliance upon the Sacred Feminine is critical.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Such was the invitation/challenge I received upon entering the directed eight-day retreat at the Jesuits’ Eastern Point Retreat Center in Gloucester, Massachusetts. For thirty years I pored over my Jerusalem Bible, cross-referencing both testaments, dating significant verses, filling pages in my journal. For thirty years I sat by the ocean, entering its moods, smelling its innards, listening to its voice. For thirty years I sat across spirited directors, sharing dreams, laughter, some tears. For thirty years I received squeaky-clean cleansing, stashed away my retreat notes, and resolved to meditate more upon returning home.

For a few months it worked until life crammed the empty spaces of my psyche, my Jerusalem Bible unopened upon my reading table. True, I did peek at times, warmed at my scribbles and highlighting, but the God of Gloucester remained hidden, until the next retreat. Funny, he always showed up.

Not since 2014, though, have I been able to travel. My Jerusalem Bible still lies upon my reading table, unopened, my psyche unwatered, crusted with flotsam and jetsam.

 

Again, I’m hearing the invitation/challenge, Be still and know that I am God. No reason to delay, even if the God of Gloucester only hangs out by the Atlantic. I still have the August 2004 photo of myself searching—I’ve been there.

I must explore further—See, afresh, what’s out there, today.

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