The Gator and the Pig.

I dreamed of a cave. It opened out of a shower room where I was showering and dressing with a friend. In the mouth of the cave was an alligator, maybe six or seven feet long. Alligators scare me for sure. I’ve seen them from a boat in the Everglades and been scared even from that safe distance. I haven’t had much opportunity to be afraid of being eaten, I guess.

 

There was a child in the mouth of the cave, gender uncertain, maybe three years old. I was outraged and scandalized by the negligence of its parents. How could they let a child dally around a creature that could so easily and obviously eat it! Then I understood that the child really wasn’t in danger at all; the alligator paid it no attention.

 

As I continued to watch, a pig came along. It wasn’t a huge pig, maybe sixty or seventy pounds. It put its head in the alligator’s mouth and the gator bit down. The pig didn’t resist, and I could hear its bones crunching and breaking. There was no blood, no struggle, and it was horribly interesting, rather than horrifying. After a while the pig kind of opened and a young knight came out of it. He was very shiny, beautiful, pure, radiantly beautiful wearing bright silver armour that was very becoming.

 

About a million years ago I went to a ‘high-end’ boarding school in Toronto. Nothing high end about me; I just managed to win a scholarship. The boys there were young scions of Empire, what columnist Alan Fotheringham later called “the tired seed of the titled”. Among the bullies and the mean-spirited acne could be found the occasional golden boy, a young cricket god decked in white ducks, noble-hearted, blonde, golden cannon-fodder for some imperial war or other. I knew one of these at that time. He bailed me out of trouble once, was kind to me in a remote and fastidious and maybe gently revolted way.

 

Similar to the knight, radiant with purity, who emerged from the riven pig.

 

Clues. The little child is safe, and in fact the only chewing the alligator does is consensual.

 

I think the pig is me. My carcase, aching and aching to release me. I’m a mass of aches and pains and generational misery and post-traumatic damage and blindness and sorrow. The alligator? Death, real or figurative. The young knight? Me? Under all these slabs of tired flesh and broken-heartedness. I don’t think the knight is an angel. Although his fastidiousness was gentle, it was definitely there. He didn’t have much to do with the pig, really. It had hosted him. Is this how it is? That my spirit is untouched by all my life experience, blindness, illness, melancholia and loss? That I’m a conveyance, something like a tank, for use in battle?

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Prayer and Invisible Geography

I’m in a place of knowing nothing at all this morning. I’m writing the blog just because I have said I’ll do it every week. It feels like building an invisible bridge over an invisible chasm, or maybe, more accurately, building an invisible bridge over a chasm that only comes into existence when I start building the bridge.

 

I’m very grounded in the phenomenal world. I tend not to see things, feel presences, converse with spirits. I have worked as an intuitive, but to a very significant extent I believe that my work has been sensory. I listen, and if one listens deeply enough to what another person is saying, and behind it, into their voice, and behind that into the soul that’s running the voice, all kinds of information is available. It’s not ‘psychic’. Famously, and perhaps apocryphally, Inuit people discern what, fifty, kinds of snow. It comes from keen attention. All kinds of information is there on the phenomenal level – you don’t have to go metaphysical to get it.

 

These days I think I know people who hear God’s voice, get direction, directly experience the presence of Jesus. I don’t doubt it for a minute. But it’s not my experience. I pray frequently, in formal and clearly defined times and ways, and also in bits and pieces all through the day. I am learning just to open up and speak. When I do this I don’t have a clear sense of a Listener. I have absolute faith and conviction that there is one, but He’s not talking back to me in any way my ear, inner or outer, can hear.

 

I hear all kinds of things. All kinds of thoughts and impressions flow through my consciousness all day, like fish swimming through deep water. How can I say which ones are God? As far as I can see, they all must be, or none are. All kinds of events (well, not so many, really – my life is deeply, sometimes appallingly uneventful) make themselves know to me. How can I judge which events are God speaking to me, which are not. Either they all are, or none is. Who am I to name what is and what is not God?

 

I’ve offered God my dreams, to use as a platform. I don’t expect always to be able to translate the dreams, and I don’t pick up every one. But I feel the dream landscape changing, redefining itself.

 

I feel like I’m working in an invisible world with invisible tools. It’s interesting in its won way because my blindness is coming on pretty strongly, and more and more of my normal diurnal world is becoming invisible. More and more I have, even in my ‘basic’ physical life, to trust that the knife I increasingly can’t see will cut the bread I increasingly can’t see.

 

Lord, You prune me to the bone. It hurts, sometimes so much I can hardly think. My life becomes tiny, all the breadth of me focussed (like a burning glass?) into one single point. I don’t know if I can stand it. I don’t know if I have the courage,

“Who do You say that I am?”

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter got it right. Was it a test question, though, or was it a necessary step in His anointing? If there are no believers, can there be a Body?

 

I listened to a charismatic preacher on Sunday morning. Spring boarding from John 7 he suggested “Ask God, then, ‘Who do You say I am?’ And really listen. Be prepared for the preposterous and be prepared to go with it.”

 

I asked and listened, and by the end of the day I heard “You are rubbish, and at harvest-time you will be thrown on the waste heap to burn.”

 

Obviously the first thing one has to ask oneself is, whose voice did I hear? Was that the voice of my own self-esteem? A perhaps more than usually difficult early life did leave me with big self-esteem issues. On the other hand, the storms mostly over and fifty years of apparently ‘adult’ life to review, I’m not that blown away by my track record. A bit of charisma and charm, a smart brain and a tender heart have been no match for the stupidity and mess of much of my life.

 

But I’m pretty sure that it’s not what we do that counts, it’s what we are. It’s maybe a bit of a riff on ‘salvation by works’. It’s not what you do, it’s what you are. Our deeds are really just projections of our identity, I think.

 

As I lived this conversation I moved beyond self-esteem issues to the other choice, that it might actually have been God’s voice, and actually found more peace and comfort there. These days I’m spending quite a lot of time praying, and just, as I understand it, hanging out in His presence. The sweetness of this time is more than I ever expected or even hoped to find, and it just keeps on getting better.

 

And it’s enough for me. I don’t feel particularly horrified by the rubbish heap prospect. It makes a certain sense to me, and it doesn’t in any way diminish the sweetness of the present conversation. In a way it makes it perhaps that much sweeter. It lets me say “Jesus, loving You is all I want now. This time with You is maybe the sweetest thing I’ve ever known, and the future doesn’t matter a bit. At the end of the day You can do what You need to do. I get to be with You now.”

Cancer and the Door

Last night I dreams of a woman who had dedicated her life to being in relationship with cancer. She spoke to it. She said “Cancer is everywhere,” and in some way she loved it. She was not ill herself, just in relationship. As I finished dreaming for the night my last dream words were “Jesus is everywhere.” I woke thinking it.

What’s up with this? I don’t think my dreamlife is equating cancer with Jesus. But if Jesus is in every particle of experience, every proton of my life, then He is present in the same location as cancer. Every cancer cell co-exists with Him in time and space. As the woman in my dream was living in a loving awareness of cancer she was, through it, transforming it, or, if that’s not quite the right word, revealing Jesus within it.

I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with this. Stepping slightly sideways, this morning I was praying and thinking about my increasing blindness. It’s getting pretty extreme. There are more and more things I can’t do. And I’m discovering that psychically it’s very painful. When I was maybe nine years old I went with my parents to some kind of amusement park in cottage country Ontario. there was an eagle in a cage. I found it, even then, quite horrifying. I’ve had a number of thoughts about it over my life, wondering what it stood for. I think I know now.

And as I reflected this morning what I came to was this: it’s not going to go away. God may choose to heal it, but I’m not pursuing it. I don’t want to separate myself from it. The emotional/psychic pain is extreme sometimes, but each particle of pain is a door. No pain, no entry. I’m not saying that pain is the only way to access God – I know it’s not. All you have to do is hold a baby. But it’s a door, and I think to reject and isolate the pain is maybe to miss the door. It’s not that it’s going to stop hurting. It’s that God can suffuse the pain.

So, with the woman whose life was dedicated to being in relationship with cancer, my dream, I think, was speaking to me, telling me that pain is everywhere, and that where pain is, Jesus is.