(No, Grace is not a blue-eyed blond, but she’s pretty wonderful.)
Psychiatrists like to understand how the mind works. (Duh!!!)
One of the great things that I have discovered about minds is they have a psycho-spiritual side that is self-correcting. One of the purposes of Adventures in Soul Making: Stories and Principles of Spiritual Formation and Depth Psychology is to develop that concept of the self-correction action of our mind and give people confidence in using it. Indeed, as I have been waiting to give birth to this book, I have been self-corrected—or as Depth Psychology would put it, “Self-corrected.” (Read the book to find out why the capital “Self” is important.)
The gentlest, yet still potent, method our spiritual mind uses to correct us is our dreams. At first dreams are just perplexing. But with some study and practice, and some spiritual direction (shameless plug!), you can learn to understand them. Take, for example, my dream this month about the long and, at times annoying trek to get Adventures corrected for print publication.
DREAM: There was a family I volunteered to help by driving the 12 year old to someplace. He failed to bring directions, and I used profanity to confront his thoughtlessness. I returned to his home so he could get papers with directions. He didn’t come back. Instead, his mother transported him because she objected to my behavior.
I had two cars in the garage. One was a Prius that was in good shape. One was a Dodge that had brakes that didn’t quite stop, but were unreliable at very slow speeds.
There was a third scene in the dream, but my wife said I couldn’t tell it to you. (Don’t you wish you could know?)
So I started my quiet time, went to my still point, then I opened my journal and started to analyze the dream symbols. Usually, I will make link-ups (associations) to each symbol, then try to ascertain the meaning as a whole. But like Athena springing fully formed from Zeus’ head, my spiritual intuition gave me the interpretation in one great chunk.
Here’s what I heard.
You are a hurrier, Troy. Your brakes don’t work right at slow speeds. You become profanely frustrated with slow tasks. This leads to being tempted toward impatience instead of staying centered in God. You fail to give the task your spiritual attunement. This leads to imbalances.
“What must I do?” I asked.
You must enter into the task from your still point and let go of frustration about time. You must chop wood mindfully. Let go of expectations about the length of time things will take. If it is worth doing, then it is worth doing mindfully.
The context of my dream was that the tasks involved in preparing my book for paper printing took more time that I thought it would—repeatedly. I wasn’t strongly frustrated, but the dream helped me look at my personality trend to expect things to be swift and easy. This false expectation tends to take me out of my still point and turn to frustration and ego-centrism. I’d never seen that dynamic in myself before. It was helpful to see it. God’s confrontations are kind. It was a fine-tuning that was Grace. I felt loved by the holy Presence of her embrace, even amidst the correction.
Richard Rohr makes this point in today’s devotion.
Christianity rarely emphasized the importance, the plausibility, or the power of inner spiritual experience. For Catholics, you were to believe the pope, the bishops, and the priests. For Protestants, you were to believe the Bible. But they're both the same game, I'm sorry to say. It's all about trusting something that is outside of yourself. When this is encouraged, there is little deep conviction or passion, but only hard-headed and often arrogant "belief"--which then feels like a game of pretend both to the believer and to those who observe such people. We gave people answers that were extrinsic to the soul and to anything you knew from the inside out. "Holiness" largely became a matter of intellect and will, instead of an inner trust and any inner dialogue of love. It made you think that the one with the most willpower wins, and the one who understands things the best is the beloved of God--the opposite of most Biblical heroes. It kept us gazing at our own "performance" instead of searching for the Divine in us and in all things.
Adventures in Soulmaking is a step-by-step primer in how to remedy that situation. I hope you will give it a look. The Kindle version is available now on Amazon.com. The paper version should be out in about 2 weeks. The announcement is to come. Have those you know sign up for notifications at troycaldwell.com. You can read a couple of chapters for free on the Amazon.com site. Click on Adventures in Soulmaking above in the navigation heading.