Backstory, Part 2: I was absolutely enchanted the first time I saw a word cloud and discovered how they work; they can unfold the most fascinating revelations. As I look at the one I have created from my blogs (which is that list of multi-sized words under ‘Tags’ in the right sidebar of my blog page), I notice not only what I am pondering frequently, but what I am dancing right past or what might be worth returning to and thinking about more deeply. Of course, some words appear more often because seasons tend to have spiritual themes (for instance, courage emerges as a theme during Beltane). One of the central themes of Lughnasadh has been blessing…and how we are shaped to be blessing.
So, back to Sunday: Eric noted that when we apply ‘God-shaped’ to ideas or behaviors or places or values as an adjective, we are engaging in idolatry. And let me just say that the adjective ‘God-shaped’ disguises itself in euphemistic synonyms that allow us to believe that our personal or small-group opinions or human constructs are some kind of ultimate truth. If we are paying attention, we don’t need to look much beyond the headlines to see that a lot of our discourse – if we can call shouting at one another from rigidly held positions across the abyss we have created as we have allowed civility to erode, ‘discourse’ – is about the specifics of what G-d intends or means or thinks. As if we would actually know what that is. So we have people claiming, for instance, that G-d is involved personally in a lot of legislation that demonizes the poor, or undermines the common good, or uses one (narrowly-defined) religious perspective to define our boundaries. What is wrong with this picture?
When we use ‘God-shaped’ as a verb, however, we are standing – wings wide, hearts open, eyes lifted past the horizon – on the edge of glorious possibility. We are aware of ourselves as “in process”, continually transforming. We can surprise ourselves because we are attentive to the changes that are occurring as the events of life invite new perspectives to blossom, and (yes) as we are chipped and dented and hollowed out by mistakes or sorrows or being imperfect at new skills.
In this ante-penultimate week of Lughnasadh, I invite you to join me in paying attention to the experience of being God-shaped, and to identifying some of the ways in which you are evolving day by day as the universe breathes into you and through you, as cells die and are born, as old habits and tapes are quietly set aside and new thoughts and habits create brand-new pathways in your brain.
Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing that. Or you may prefer to use the flame of a candle as a focal point to help your mind be still. Become aware of your breathing and allow it to be slow and deep.
Let yourself drift into your imagination.
You are in your home, reading or having a warm beverage or in some other way being quietly present. There is a knock on the door and when you open it, there is a messenger who says, “I have a gift for you. Come quickly.”
This may be a person you know, someone who has been a guide or role model for you. It may be a stranger or a fictional character you admire. Whoever it is, you realize that you are safe with this person and you grab a jacket or a sweater and step outside, closing your door behind you.
You set off with the messenger on foot and, in the way of dreams, you arrive shortly at your destination which is a large warehouse. Your companion has a key and opens the front door and you both enter. You find yourself in a hallway with many doors opening off of it, all of them closed and locked. Your companion begins to move down the hallway, looking at the doors until he or she arrives at the right one and unlocks it.
The messenger ushers you into a room lined with pictures. Some of these pictures are portraits, some are landscapes. Some are abstract or impressionistic, others are almost photographic in style. Pause and look around. You notice that there are places to sit comfortably and contemplate the art. But, before you do that, your guide invites you to wander a little and take notice of the theme of the pictures.
As you do that, you realize that these pieces all represent turning points in your life, thresholds, transitions. Some may be moments or events the world recognizes as ‘important’ (a graduation, a marriage, the birth of a child, the publication of a book, a first job, a conversion), others are much more private, less obvious. In fact, you may not have noticed them as they happened.
Each picture represents a fork in the road when you consciously or unconsciously chose one path over another, one way of being over another, one value or set of values over another. Your guide is quietly moving at your side from picture to picture.
As you complete your circuit of the room, the guide says, “You have been, are, and will be God-shaped with every breath you take. You are becoming. Celebrate how you are becoming.” She or he smiles and leaves you to explore and ponder more deeply.
Allow one piece to draw you closer and spend some time with it, remembering and savoring that moment, that experience, that choice. Let the tastes, the odors, the sounds come back if they will. Perhaps there was another person involved – someone who was a witness, or someone whose behavior precipitated that particular shaping.
Feel free to stay in the room as long as you want. Reflect with as many pictures as you would like. Perhaps you want to return each day this week and explore a different portrait or picture.
When you are ready to leave for today, take 3 or 4 more deep breaths and then open your eyes gently and let yourself become centered in this time and place. Take some time to write or draw some reflections on what you discovered, something that you can return to this week and consider again.
And then, if these words inspire you, take this prayer poem into the week with my blessing.
Sculptor of Life,
I await the strong stroke of your mallet on chisel
hewing my body, my heart, my soul.
I lean into your shaping vision
fashioning angle and curve,
transforming weight to meaning,
revealing layered questions,
exposing veins of wisdom.
Grant me the solid patience
to be content to be
an infinite work in eternal progress.
May it be so.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2014, Immram Chara, LLC
NOTE: The fiber piece (Focus: Third Eye Chakra) is available as part of a larger panel of all seven chakras in my Etsy Shop. Individual chakras can be commissioned; please contact me if you are interested.