Category Archives: transformation

Living On The Edge

Day 4 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.

Today’s spiritual reading comes from the writing of photographer William Guion, who describes an oak tree leaning over a pond and how it speaks to his situation at the time. His reflection is based on his photograph Leaning Oak and Reflection, New Orleans, 1991.

Here’s a snapshot from his reflection:

“A thin mist fell, or more accurately, hung in the air. Rain had soaked the landscape during the night, and mud at the water’s edge sucked at my shoes. In the yawning light, I saw an oak leaning at a precarious angle over the water. The soil had eroded over time, dissolving much of the tree’s foundation, yet the oak’s roots were locked tenaciously into the receding land. Against the threat of drowning, this tree survived through an elegant dance of balance, perseverance and heroism. Almost in praise, the pond mirrored the oak’s profile creating a beautiful mandala-like wheel with spokes of water, leaves, earth and light.”

How often have we lived life on the edge? How often have we operated within our comfort zones, within safe boundaries, never really stretching outside of ourselves?

Oh, the uncertainty of life.

When we are faced with a decision that could change our lives forever, we tend to go back and forth in our thinking. We play out the possible scenarios in our minds; we carefully weigh our options.  The mist of doubt often clouds our vision. Sometimes we just don’t know what to do or expect. In our impatience, we want answers, and we want them NOW. But the truth is, we won’t know what happens until we do it, whatever it is.

That “thin mist” of uncertainty or doubt that hangs in the air, still and unmoving, will remain until we make a move. When we act, when we make a decision, we begin to move in the direction of choice. As we set things in motion, the universe begins to move and conspire, and we find the mist beginning to dissipate. Then we can move forward toward our vision.

The “rain that soaked the landscape during the night” has made a mess of things in our own interior landscape. It has loosened our foundation, making it difficult to traverse the land. We get stuck in the “mud” of our old thinking, our old ways, unsure of doing something new and different. Every time we try to make a move, the mud sucks at our feet, trying to hold us back, as if saying, “No! Don’t go!” Our old ways do not want us to abandon them.

But “in the yawning light,” what was once indiscernible now comes into view. Our weeping may have endured for a night, but joy now comes as we realize the direction in which we must go.

The “oak leaning at a precarious angle at the water’s edge” reminds us of our position. We are at the edge of something big, something great, something heroic, if not to others, to ourselves. This is a big step. All of this time we’ve been playing it safe, doing what we thought and believed we should be doing or doing what was expected of us.

But something inside of us is  s t r e t c h i n g  us to reach further as we struggle between what should I do and what do I want. This is the crux of the matter, and so we stand on the edge of an uncertain future, “locked tenaciously into the receding land” of our old life, but desiring more by leaning forward over the “pond” of the unknown.

No matter what happens, we will survive. Our decision may be life-altering, but it is not life-or-death by any means. We come to see all the “rain” — the grief we endured in our dark night — as our baptism into a new life. And as we see the oak’s profile as a “beautiful mandala-like wheel with spokes of water, leaves, earth and light” mirrored in the pond, we glimpse ourselves in a new form, reborn.

And so we are transformed.


Diving Into The Deep

Day 3 of 29 Days of Spiritual Messages.
Today’s spiritual reading comes from the non-fictional novel Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. It is the true adventure of two men who risked everything, even their lives, to solve one of the last mysteries of World War II. 
Their deep-wreck diving became an addiction as they braved treacherous currents and depths that induced hallucinatory narcosis. They pushed themselves to their limits and beyond as they explored the wreckage of a German U-Boat, 60 miles off the coast of New Jersey, 230 feet below the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Let’s dive in.
This excerpt is from chapter 2, page 22:

“Deep-shipwreck diving is among the world’s most dangerous sports. Few other endeavors exist in which nature, biology, equipment, instinct and object conspire—without warning and from all directions—to so completely attack a man’s mind and disassemble his spirit.”

Courtesy Google Images
On the surface, yes, this is about the dangers of deep-shipwreck diving, but upon closer inspection, what seems to be a warning is really a lesson about diving into life, in particular, into those areas of life that have brought the most pain to us. 
This is about diving deep into our own personal wreckage so that we may “right” the “wrongs” and move forward from pain to freedom.
Any analysis of the self can be a bit uncomfortable. No one likes to be poked and prodded as if some kind of specimen under bright, blinding lights. But without self-examination, life stagnates. Even Socrates tells us that the unexamined life not worth living. If life is not progressing in the way we had planned, or if it is not advancing at all, we have to stop and examine what is holding us back from our potential. 
Most of the time, if not all, that what is us
Once we are aware of this fact, we can either make the choice to move forward or to remain inert.
Exploring our depths can be quite frightening. It is unknown territory, and it means facing fears. If we are holding ourselves back, we need to go to the “wreck” site and shine some light on it. This means taking responsibility for what has happened in our lives. And that can be scary. 
Are there dangers? There can be if we are not properly prepared. It’s important to understand the risks involved so that we can navigate safely and effectively through any twisted metal and tangled wires within ourselves. 
Courtesy Google Images
The real danger is not knowing what to do. That’s why it’s important to establish some kind of lifeline to grab onto to find our way back. This means getting the help we need, either professionally or informally, to plumb the depths. Should the sediment start kicking up, obscuring our vision, we have that guidance system in place. 
When things come “without warning and from all directions,” and when we are not prepared in some fashion to face it because of fear, denial, or low information, these circumstances “so completely attack [our] mind and disassemble [our] spirit,” rendering us victims. Once we’ve lived, loved, and lost, it’s easy to fall into this sort of thinking. But that’s exactly the kind of thinking that will hold us down and keep us tied to the wreckage within.
Unexpected things will happen in life that may cause pain and hurt; we can’t predict what will happen. Not everything is in our control, but when we remember that we are in control of ourselves, then we can choose how to approach these things when they do happen. 
In the diving world, a wreck is not simply a wreck resting at the bottom of the ocean; it’s a goldmine. A wreck gets explored for its secrets and hidden treasures, not its wreckage.
We are to see beyond the bones of wreckage in our lives and learn how to use that wreckage to transform us.
When we dive into the shadows and explore our personal wreckage, we will find many parts of it salvageable. We can refashion these parts and find much value in them. We can choose to believe that everything happens for a purpose and a reason, in time and in season. 
It’s up to us to turn that wreckage into gold. 
How have you turned personal wreckage into treasure?