Walking alongside a delightful wooded creek in upper Michigan, my awareness of the nature of that stream opened to the mystical wonder of all that was before me in that moment. As I pondered the beauty of the flowing water, I experienced a penetrating insight into the “stream” that we call life. That enticing stream had never before been exactly as I was seeing it that day. None of the drops of water that came together to form that stream had ever been together in exactly the same way before, and never again would anyone see exactly what I was seeing at that point in time.
Since water can never be destroyed, I wondered just where each drop might have been since the time the earth came into form when Creator called forth light from the face of the deep. What was it like to be part of this beautiful stream compared to having been a drop in the ocean, a mighty river, ice at the South Pole, mist in a cloud, a droplet of morning dew on a rose petal, or as steam coming out of my morning cup of cappuccino. The water in that stream had been all over the planet, I mused, and its journey was not to end in this place either. Its journey today was but a continuum on the eternal path of all that is part of The Divine. Each drop had a journey ahead that was, as yet, unknown. In that unknown dimension lies both the mystery and the delights of this present adventure that we call existence.
Our lives are, in many ways, like a drop of water in a stream. Where have we been in our past experiences that are beyond our memories? Where will we yet be in the unfolding present? To where shall we roam as a being that is yet to become all that we choose in the days ahead. These are but the unanswerable ponderings in this existential reality that we call “life.”
Of all the possibilities downstream, what experiences would each drop of that water realize—the next bend, the waterfall just ahead, the river only a few miles away, the ocean? A myriad of possible adventures are awaiting each drop as it flows, widens into a quiet pool, falls over rocks and branches, or breaks into a fast moving current along the way. Will it be caught by a thirsty plant, tree, raccoon, or deer? Perhaps, for a time, it will be part of a brain cell in the deer or maybe pass through its digestive system and temporarily be part of some waste on the ground. Sometimes in life it seems that this has happened to us, but that is only temporary. Each drop of water will surely return to the atmosphere above. Will it be carried away on the feet of a crane that has been feeding in the waters? What then is its path to be? Will it be splashed upon a rock or fallen tree, evaporate into the air, help form a cloud, and once again ride the winds until it falls as rain somewhere else on the surface of the planet? At that moment, it will be on another unknown adventure of sustaining life anew.
Each drop of water, like the human spirit, can never be trapped forever. It will not fail to fulfill its purpose—and neither will you. For sure there will be times of waiting and wondering why all the present circumstances are happening; times when it will feel like we are stuck in a hidden place without seeming to have much hope. But, emerge you will, just as the drop of water, and journey will continue with greater wisdom than you had before the experience just realized. Beyond right/wrong, beyond good/bad and other human judgments, we are part of all that is. We are One with each other and The Divine.
There were times when my life seemed like a drop of water that had surely lost its way. The trauma of a painful childhood was too much to bear, yet I could not escape the torment—at least until later in life. Raised and abused in the midst of fundamentalist Christianity, there was nothing in traditional Christianity that provided answers for my inner pain. I was raised to feel a shame which only served to exacerbate my grief as a wounded child. The inner “victim” would not be silenced. I came to the understanding that theology has no power to heal. Only love and divine connection through spiritual practices can heal the human spirit. Even as an ordained minister, there was absolutely no healing for me in the religious belief system of Christianity. The shadow within was not going to be transformed where I was. I left. I left the religion of Christianity behind. I left it all.
My experience for the next sixteen years was to be later understood as my “dark night of the soul.” Not that my earlier years were full of light—far from it. But having no place to go, no community to support me, and no healing connections, I floundered on and on. I could only try to find substitutes for my pain. Whatever covered it over and whatever seemed to make the pain subside, became my daily choice. I was lost. I always had been. I just didn’t know how lost I really was in the theological morass of patriarchal Christianity. From it, I had only learned to blame others for my pain, while all the time feel shame and guilt deep inside.
Then along came Holmes. Ernest Holmes that is, and I began to awaken. “Science of Mind?” What is that, I queried. Yet soon the message from a man who was absolutely connected to the same loving Divine as Jesus was, began to get through to my troubled spirit. I was not separate from that Loving Presence, after all. I was not condemned by that One, regardless of all that I’d been taught as a child. I began to understand that I was much more—I was part of The Divine. I’d been lied to since I was a small boy. The truth about a loving God was beginning to take root in my heart. My healing had begun.
And, while the words of Ernest Holmes were powerful and healing, I still had to find the way to heal my shadows inside; shadows left in the dark from a painful past. Words alone cannot heal. Desire alone can’t heal. I needed to reclaim what I was ashamed of and what I hated about myself from my past. The old “victim” was only reminding me of a long needed healing within. It was a friend calling me to do the inner work. That which was hidden away deep within had actually been controlling me. The more I tried to hide my pain and confusion, the more that old victim energy led me into bondage. The victim was the “me” that wanted to reach out and love others. But how could I love others when I didn’t know how to quench my own thirst for love?
What are the shadows within? What are we to do with them? Hide them? Pretend they’re not there? Find some way to drown them out? They are the parts of us that are hiding what is most magnificent about us! Our so called “darker side” is where we have hidden the aspects of ourselves that we have rejected, repressed, or ignored. They are the parts that we are ashamed of, and what we have thought of as ugly and/or forbidden. The shadows contain the strong emotions and certain “undesirable” traits that we do not like about ourselves or what we’ve been shamed for by others.
But…the shadow is also hiding our best character; the magnificence of who we really are but we have not had permission or the courage to call it forth into the light. Just behind feelings of worthlessness or guilt or shame or smallness are the powerful expressions of our true self, the higher self, the self that Jesus called the “I AM…”–the kingdom of heaven within us! We have the power to call forth the parts of us that are full of Divine light and love and then live in the delight of our true nature—The Divine Itself.
Discovering the Aramaic Jesus taught me how to call forth light from my inner darkness. This was my first step into a deep transformation of the lingering shadows within. This process is outlined in my book, Liberating Jesus From Christianity, on Amazon. I learned how to walk free from the wounds of dogmatic religion. Finding my personal spiritual path was the key. This is possible for everyone who has the courage to find The Divine within, the discipline to practice what Jesus taught, and the desire to know deeper truths.
To find your own spiritual path is the most delightful adventure you’ll ever encounter. It is the way to remembering who you are and why you’ve come to the planet. What is your purpose for being here in a physical body? Do you remember?
The good news is that I don’t have to do all my inner work in isolation. In calling his disciples (not just twelve men), Jesus revealed the need for community as the extension of Divine love and nurturing. We are not alone. Seeking and finding other people who are on our common journey back to The Divine, our Source of life, is the key to greater awareness of who I am and what inner work I need to do. We are here as Divine light (the “light of the world”), love, and mutual nurturing as we learn to transform our own inner shadows and support others in doing the same. See Liberating Jesus From Christianity for more details.
Yes, there are times when the work must be done in solitude. Yet community is always necessary. We need each other; not just as members of the same group, but as those who have lovingly committed to first do their own inner work and then love those around them who are also doing theirs.
Where can one find such community? I heartedly recommend your nearest Unity church or church of Religious Science, where they focus on our Divine Connection instead of theology and dogma. There you’ll find fellow pilgrims on their journey. How refreshing it is to be lovingly included in The Divine. We are not isolated in the realms of the condemned. We and The Divine are One.
There are other spiritually centered, interfaith groups that also practice the principles of unity that Ernest Holmes brought forth. Find one that puts Divine Connection first–along with the mutual, loving support of others, and the celebration of the truth that “All Are One.” Find a group that assists each other in becoming their best self and remember the reason they’ve come to earth. Wherever you are in your “stream of life,” you will never be lost; you are on the way back to The Divine who is Pure Love. Embrace the adventure. Trust Divine connection within and watch carefully for the next expression of Love to show up in your life.
Finding your own spiritual path that is beyond theology, patriarchal structures, static beliefs, or conformity to external religion is the quest of a lifetime. You can do it. I write to encourage you on your spiritual path in my book, Liberating Jesus From Christianity, available on Amazon. You can read more about it at www.MeetJimStacey.com and learn that when you are in doubt, you can go within and find The Divine adventure awaiting you.
Jim Stacey–All rights reserved.