Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Abi and The Great Sadness

I have recently gone back to read The Shack a second time -- two years after my friend, Annette, loaned me her copy and said that I must read it.  This time I was reading my own copy (a hardcover), so that I could make notes as I read.  This time I was also in a very different place -- physically, emotionally, spiritually ... but not geographically.   ;^)

As I read I realized that I was in the midst of my own version of The Great Sadness -- that place Paul Young describes as where our heart is so broken by pain and grief that the resulting pool of secrets feed a shame that allows those around us to unwittingly help us build something he has called The Shack.

What is The Shack?  Paul says it is a metaphor for being stuck by The Great Sadness ... the facade we build to hide our pain and secrets and shame from those around us -- those who think they know us.  Sometimes -- especially? -- it is built to hide us from seeing ourselves and from recognizing our warped ideas of God.  

But what Paul Young does in his book is to ask us to consider the "what if" involved were God to invite us to hike back out to the wilderness where The Shack is hidden -- run down and desolate and frightening.  If we will accept this invitation, we will see that Paul has provided another metaphor for the loving Papa who (with the help of Jesus, Sarayu and Sophia) helps us dismantle The Shack in order to finally heal our broken heart and mend our relationships -- with God and with others ... and especially with ourselves.

The challenge, of course, is that Paul puts into one weekend for Mack what took him 11 years of hard, hard work.  There is no "magic wand" -- it seems very much like Eustace having to be un-dragoned by Aslan in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  We scratch and scratch and are successful in shedding a few thin layers of dragon skin.  But we cannot dig deep enough on our own to free ourselves from the result of "thinking dragonish thoughts".  It takes Aslan's powerful and sharp claws to sink into that thick, knobby dragon skin and peel it away and release our true selves from bondage.

Little did I realize over two years ago, when I first thought of the Purple Martyrdom, that it would include hues this dark -- almost black.  God's amazing grace only tells us what we need to know when we need to know it, eh?  The reality is that even as I fear I have let go of that knot at the end of my rope ... I find I have always been safe in the strong hands of the Love that will not let me go.

It really is, as Lewis perceived, a severe mercy.  As severe as the death of the life I knew ... yet as merciful as the Love that promises to bring me back to True Life.   Perhaps it is not unlike Ramandu (the burned-out "star at rest" from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) who was brought one fire-berry from the valleys in the sun each day.  And each fire-berry takes away some of his age ... until he is again as young as a newborn child.  Then ... he will rise again to take his place and once more tread the great dance....

I do not know how Papa will accomplish this task.  I am often wide-eyed and somewhat pale as I feel Aslan's long and sharp claws dig in and do their work.  Sometimes my heart shudders as I feel the scales being pulled -- firmly yet gently.  But I choose to believe that this is a work of Love ... and that I am safe in the hands of the Great Physician.  The Master Craftsman.  The Good Shepherd.  The Lion who is The Lamb ... that was slain before the foundations of the world were laid ... because He has always been especially fond of me.

In the hope of embracing Abundant Life, I surrender my grasping perception of life.  I trade life-affirming and spontaneous expectancy for death-inducing and stifling expectation ... and childlike and trusting response for controlling and legalistic responsibility.  It may not be neat and pretty from an earthly, human perspective ... but I hear that it is full of glorious fractals where Sarayu is at work in a wildly unconventional garden known as Peggy's Patch -- watering with the precious tear drops that She collects in a little bottle....

Be blessed....


brad/futuristguy said...

My friend Craig says there's a difference between *transparency* and *vulnerability.* Transparency involves sharing about what you have experienced and processed. Vulnerability involves sharing what you currently are experiencing and processing. Both have their riskiness, but I don't think true leaders can have either one without the other.

Thanks for being a true leader, Peggy. May your journey through these deep purple wilds bring you back to some soothing lavender soon ...

Blessings, Abbess, to your and your family ...

AbiSomeone said...

Thank you, Brad ... your words seem just right--as always.

Yes, lavender would be lovely. And the heavy snows of this past winter killed off all my lavender. Hmmm ... I'm not going to read too much into that! ;^)

I am nearing the end of Irina's book. Thanks, again ... it has been very timely. The challenges of her life continue to provide much needed perspective.

It is, however, good to remember that we each are on a path that is uniquely for us to walk with Papa ... someone else's "shoes" just will not fit our "feet." One side definitely does not fit all!

AbiSomeone said... "side" doesn't fit at all. And neither does one "size" -- which is what I meant to say! ;^/

Janet Woodlock said...

Ah, you too...

It really takes poetry and metaphor to describe soul work, and that is a lovely poetic description... rich and lovely. Thank you.

Here's a verse they don't teach in church all that often, nor do we tend to underline it in our bibles:

Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

No way but the cross, alas... but knowing Jesus is surely worth it.

AbiSomeone said...

Yes, Janet ... it is the daily dying to self that must be done. And even this is not something that I can do ... I must embrace the death that Jesus suffered on my behalf so that I can remember that he has already died so that I can have life.

The challenge comes because I have others around me who depend on me -- my precious family. I cannot be there for them if I am not safely hidden in Christ. Or, more correctly, I cannot be there for them. Period. I can only let Christ be there for them through me.

And that means embracing that which feels so very unfair. It is, actually, completely unfair. But Papa doesn't worry about what is fair. He is good and always making things that are unfair turn into good things. If I let him, that is.

And that's where the hard work is done. The dying to self that embraces life in Christ.

Nothing glamorous there. Just a quiet taking of the Cup set before me ... an act of trust and obedience.

Eyes to perceive God's reality -- the only Truth -- is my prayer. Then, I will see love that is full and complete -- that removes "fair" from the conversation completely.

...every day, all day long, until it is finished.

Diane said...

Hi Peggy,

This was a beautiful post. I loved the line "It takes Aslan's powerful and sharp claws to sink into that thick, knobby dragon skin and peel it away and release our true selves from bondage." You truly have a poet's mind and heart. I don't know what you are undergoing in that deep hue of purple--but you are witness to others of Jesus at work.


AbiSomeone said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Diane. It is good to see God already answering my prayer that he would glorify himself in and through this chaos!