Saturday, March 17, 2007
I dreamed last night that I was in my family's cabin outside of Estes Park, Colorado. I've spent many days there: hiking, sitting on the porch balustrade with my back against a pillar, watching the light play on the high mountains. I've watched rain and shivered. I've sought the shade on hot days when sunlight bakes scent from the sage and ponderosas. I've had birds land nearby, mistaking my stillness for something vegetative. I've walked in two feet of snow and gotten caught in fast-moving rainstorms a bit short of shelter.
In the dream the cabin was shaking. Long breakers came in from a dark sea and hammered the foundation. I questioned this. An ocean outside of the cabin? I sought their origin but it was just black out there, some kind of short horizon out which the waves were born. I could taste the salt. I wondered if each hit would be the last.
It doesn't take a psychoanalyst to figure this one out. Anyone who has read much on this blog has a pretty good idea that I have, um, "issues" with safety. Short of suicide the cabin has represented shelter. I used to live an hour or so away and I'd go up there for the weekends to get away from the noise of the city.
Yesterday I wrote about bjk's fishbowl analogy. If we live in fishbowls the answer isn't to leap out; that particular sanctuary is a life-support system no less intimate than an astronaut's space suit. So, I asked God what was going on here.
I'm so eager to tell God what his business is. If I judge myself then He won't have to. The truth is, though, that he's the least likely to judge me of anyone I know. Still, I live in a psychologic bowl. I'm well adapted to being there. I interpret God's efforts at changing the situation as an attack on the core of my being.
Well, there's no way to disguise that, as it's exactly what God is doing. I tried fitting other ideas around that image of waves against the foundation. I tried changing the cabin into a cage, but it was no less uncomfortable. I tried imagining God's hand there instead of the cabin walls, but that didn't fit either. God's own imagery was more sophisticated, and gentler. It still implies the need to change but also brings in the idea that I'm not alone. His image is more like two people working on rebuilding the cabin, making it less rigid. This part is rather hazy. I don't know what it will be like.
Sanctuary or cage? A matter of how it's built? Or how it's used? Be prepared for the truth.
The Christian world is full to overflowing with metaphors that do, I think, more harm than good. They are oversimplifications that get used in place of God. People are scared of God, which isn't too surprising given how He has been presented to us as vindictive, angry, easily upset and very touchy. He can be angry, obviously, but if He were as prickly as He's made out to be He'd have written off the universe a long time back. We'd have been cinders, and he'd have walked away saying "That's no more than they deserved." We do deserve to be cratered out of existence. That's what we've earned, but that's not what God has given us. He gave us His Son, and that's what we need to concentrate on. That great gift enables a new approach to sanctuary that's nearly impossible to understand. Seek life instead of rules. Seek a sanctuary Who lives and has open windows... that He will close when necessary.
God's goal isn't to kill me. That He has to kill off some aspects of my being is a problem, but I'm gradually learning to separate the good core from the damaging superstructure. Sometimes, though, my quaking soul interprets things a bit off and feels like a sand sculpture against the rising tide. If that were God's goal he wouldn't have to work very hard.