Once in a great while, I come across a book that speaks that language of transitions. When The Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees), in which Kidd chronicles her spiritual awakening activated by what we normally refer to as “midlife crisis”, is one such book. The book follows Christian principles but, as the mystical aspects of all religions intersect at the same point, it applies to any spiritual and religious traditions. Following are a couple of my favorite passages:
“That was the moment the knowledge descended into my heart and I understood. Really understood. Crises, change, all the myriad upheavals that blister the spirit and leave us groping – they aren’t voices simply of pain but also of creativity. And if we would only listen, we might hear such times as beckoning us to a season of waiting, to the place of fertile emptiness.
“I turned from the window, quickened by the moment. I knew. Dear God, I knew. I must enter the chrysalis.
“The Greek word for soul is psyche, and is often symbolized as a butterfly. Both the soul and the butterfly are metamorphosed. While it is tempting for me to think that the growth and emergence of my authentic self would happen with little time and effort on my part, that isn’t so. The fullness of one’s soul evolves slowly. We’re asked to go within to gestate the newness God is trying to form; we’re asked to collaborate with grace.
“That doesn’t mean that grace isn’t a gift. Nor does it mean that the deliberate process of waiting produces grace. But waiting does provide the time and space necessary for grace to happen. Spirit needs a container to pour itself into. Grace needs an arena in which to incarnate. Waiting can be such a place, if we allow it.” (pp. 12-13)
“During the days after my February walk, I asked myself what would happen if I could learn the spiritual art of cocooning. Might I discover a stilling of the soul that invited God and a new recreation of life? Would I see that waiting, with all its quiet passion and hidden fire, is the real crucible of spiritual transformation? Would the posture of the cocoon allow me a way to shed the old, embedded patterns of living and move into a more genuine humanity where the authentic self breaks through?
“I wondered if waiting was the “missing link” in spiritual evolving, the lost and forgotten experience crucial to becoming fully human, fully Christian, fully ourselves.
“One day, while reading in the Gospels, it occurred to me that when important times of transition came for Jesus, he entered enclosures of waiting – the wilderness, a garden, the tomb. Jesus’ life was a balanced rhythm of waiting on God and expressing the fruits of that waiting.
“I had tended to view waiting as mere passivity. When I looked it up in my dictionary however, I found the words passive and passion come from the same Latin root, pati, which means “to endure.” Waiting is thus both passive and passionate. It’s vibrant, contemplative work. It means descending into self, into God, into the deeper labyrinths of prayer. It involves listening to disinherited voices within, facing the wounded holes in the soul, the denied and undiscovered, the places one lives falsely. It means struggling with the vision of who we really are in God and molding the courage to live that vision.” (p. 14)