Monthly Archives: August 2009

It hurts

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Since my dear friend won’t speak to me the only way I have to keep up with her is her blog and facebook updates.  As I piece together what her journey must be now the picture it makes stabs at the open wound that is my soul.

Her ideas are listened to, mine would only be questioned.  She is surrounded by people who build her up, I am alone.  She is praised.  I am forgotten.  She rejoices in the light.  I am trying to not be smothered by the darkness.  She has constant reassurance of God’s love.  I am clinging frantically to the end of His coat-tails – trying to hold on.

She has the authority to issue spiritual challenges to others.  I have none, and would be considered an apostate by almost all who know me.

I sure hope God knows what He is doing….

Background for the journey (Part 2)

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Wow.  Guess I’ve been holding back a lot more words than I thought – this wasn’t supposed to be a 2 part post.

Well, so – in and around living my life, reading this fascinating story, and feeling like I was adventuring in my dreams – I was pondering the problem of my friend and this church.  I had taken on a pretty big position in the planning end of leadership, and I was acting as the go-to girl for my friend’s creative team.  Just before taking our sabbatical, my friend and I had a long phone conversation about what was going on in my head and why I’d made this (seemingly sudden) decision.  I was pretty certain she was ticked off at me.  I was very certain when I began reading the not-too-subtle-but-unnamed potshots she was taking at me on her blog.  I prayed a lot, I cried a lot, I slept a lot.  I refused to have a nasty blog war with my friend because I was trying to be an adult about this whole mess.  I really hadn’t wanted to leave my friend or my fellow leaders in the lurch – but I knew nobody would look after my sanity (or my family) if I didn’t.

I cocooned myself with my family and did what I do best when a crisis hits – research.  The novel had raised some interesting questions in my head – about Mary Magdalene, about the Gothic cathedrals and their symbolism, about the history of Christianity, the Gnostic gospels, the heretics,the history of religion, and so on and so forth.  I didn’t want to read some biased commentator’s account either.  I wanted (inasmuch as was possible) to read from the source – from the people who’d scoured the records themselves.  I let myself get lost in the sections and the authors that are generally considered verboten in Evangelical circles.  I bought myself a couple of dream dictionaries to see if I could figure out what on earth was going on in my head.

I researched.  And I waited.  I figured I would know when the time was right to make a final decision and what that decision should be.  Toward the end of July I realized my decision had been made.  I was much healthier, happier, and sane *not* being involved with that particular church.  I called my friend to chat and to update her.  Left a message.  She never called back.  I figured she was busy or never got the message.  I emailed my decision to the leaders, and decided to email her too so as not to hear it through the grapevine.  No answer – at all – not a word, not a peep, in any form at all.

That threw me into a *major* tailspin.  Suddenly it was as if my foundation had crumbled beneath me.  I have known this woman for 10 years.  My children call her Auntie.  She mentored me through 3 children and 4 church changes.  And now she was gone, seemingly out of my life – over a simple difference of opinion.  Wouldn’t even *speak* to me to give me a chance to apologize.  Because I disagreed with her “wisdom.”

I was angry and hurt in a way I’ve only been once before in my life.   But this was worse.  That friendship was much more shallow, based on shared experience and common interest.  This one – this one had roots down into the taproot of my soul.  And with that one act (or rather, lack thereof) I felt as if God was striking down the concrete foundation blocks of my soul.  I started questioning everything – my faith, the church, my judgement skills, my misplaced trust, even God himself.

My soul hung over a sheer precipice – I was frightened to the very marrow of my bones.  I wondered if I had lost my mind….

So very lost was I that I actually went out and bought The God Delusion by the famous atheist Richard Dawkins.  I read, or skimmed, nearly half of it in one night – all the while expecting God to reach down and zot me from heaven.  (i know, a paradox – nobody said it made sense).   Well, He didn’t – and as I read the book I calmed down a bit.  I figured if I could read a book by a dedicated atheist who actually states he’s *trying* to convert people – and still feel in the depths of my soul that I cannot give up my belief in the Ultimate Divine, well, that’s at least something to build on.

Only now, it would seem, I had to work on rebuilding my faith from the ground up.

Enter Wolfdreamer…..

As I shared these vivid and bizarre dreams with a close friend who knows a few people gifted in dream interpretation – I realized two things.  One,  this gift or tendency has been with me all my life – but I must have been repressing it (along with other gifts and tendencies) for quite some time since dreams and dream interpretation are not part of traditional/orthodox/evangelical church at large.

And two,  this had morphed into much more than just a spiritual hiccup in my journey.  There was some serious stuff in my psyche that God meant to dig up and bring to the light.  Not the stuff that other (well meaning) people told me it was either.  Whole ways of being and parts of my personality that I had compartmentalized or chained down.  I needed healing – but I didn’t need healing *by* the church, but *from* the church.  God had been dealing with me on the wearing of “masks” over my true personality – and the biggest one of all was the one I wore for the sake of the church!

I soon decided that logic was not going to work for this journey.  I allowed my mind to slip into its intuitive way of being – started searching for symbols and ideas to latch onto to lead me through the wilderness.  I found the dream and the symbol that made the least sense to me and I hugged it to me, though I didn’t understand why.  It was the wolf.

In a fragment of a dream I had written down that I had turned into a wolf, and met up with another wolf (or a wolf-like dog).  I almost never dream about animals – and anyone who knows me personally would be hard pressed to associate me ( your basic mild mannered persona) –  with a wolf.

It puzzled me greatly – but in that intuitive way of knowing – it also felt significant.  So I mentally carried it around with me.  And one day, while perusing the library stacks – serendipity struck again.  I saw Clarissa Pinkola Estes book “Women Who Run With the Wolves”.  I’d seen this book lots of times in my days working in a bookstore – wondered about it on occasion.  Figured it was about powerful business women or some such (like swimming with the sharks imagery).

I. Was. So. Wrong.

She’s a Jungian analyst.  Jung was the one who pioneered a workable system of archetypal dream imagery.  I was part Psych major in college.  I started reading the book and felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole as the author laid my whole life out in front of me.  Finally, as though God had handed me a key to the door of my soul,  I could begin to understand the things that have driven me (or that, I have run from) all these years.

And that is why my name, for this journey, is Wolfdreamer

About the blog name

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For those of you who’d stumbled across my blog hoping to find Native American wisdom or some such and are now hopelessly confused, well, I haven’t got a good answer.  For those of you wondering why on earth an ordinary  white-bread wife and mom would be skulking around the blogosphere as Wolfdreamer – stick around – you’re about to take the red pill and follow me down as far as the rabbit hole goes….

And so it begins

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Some years back, we used to tease a friend of ours that she had an “alter ego”.  And we changed the first letter of her name accordingly, depending on how she was acting that day.  This blog is my alter ego, such as it is.  I exist elsewhere  in the blogosphere as myself.  And I have loved every minute of it.  However, I now find myself in an odd position.  For the past 4 or 5 months I have been on a deep, soul-searching spiritual journey.  A journey which absolutely defies categorization.  I’ve thought and prayed long and hard over sharing the details of this journey, both as a catharsis for myself and in hopes of creating a community of others who find themselves on a similar journey.  But there are some folks in my regular sphere of readership who could be hurt/shocked/confused by some of the ideas that have been swirling around in my head.  In order to spare them confusion, and spare me snarky comments, I plan to remain as anonymous as possible.  It is my hope that there are somewhere in the world others like me who have been flung into the fire while searching for Truth.

A word about comments

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If you are a traditional (orthodox, Evangelical) Christian and have somehow stumbled upon my blog and are shocked and offended and want to leave comments in order to evangelize me (or anyone reading) “back into the fold” I give you one word – don’t.

There is nothing you can say to me I haven’t already thought of myself.  I can probably beat you at the Scripture quotes game.  And I will delete them, period.  I need to go on this journey full circle.  Please realize that your need to defend the faith to me or others only hurts, not helps.

I would love for this to be a forum for people of *any* religious persuasion to seek the Truth together.  But I flat out refuse to let it become a soapbox for Bible bashers.  There’s way too much of that in the world already.  Thanks.

Some background for the journey

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All my life I have been a Christian.  Baptized as a baby by my uncle who was a minister, prayed the “sinner’s prayer” at the age of 8 at VBS one summer, raised in the church by Christian parents, born again, again – in college, heavily involved in all Christian groups on campus, baptized again (the “proper” way) at Creation Fest after college, member of half a dozen churches (a cornucopia of denominations), involved in just about any ministry you can name.  I’ve sung, taught, studied, and given of my time and gifts for some 30+ years now.  All I have ever wanted was to follow after God in the best way I knew how – to be, as much as it is ever possible for a frail and faulty human to be – in the will of God.

The last church in which I believed God had called me to fulfill that role was a thoroughly modern, very Evangelical, very hip, very up-and-coming savvy metropolitan church.  My family and I had been attending for the last 2 years or so.  I had been heavily involved in leadership and the creative arts.  I thought I was happy.  I was certainly busy.  But about a year ago, a little nagging voice in the back of my head started buzzing around.  And I started having terrible nightmares (so did my daughter).  I wondered if God was trying to tell me something.  I mentioned it to some of my fellow leaders – in particular to the person I considered my mentor (and one of my dearest friends).  I was told that I simply needed to “step up to the plate” and “get connected”.  So…..I tried that.  Long story short – it didn’t work.  All I got to show for my efforts was a bad case of burnout and my husband and kids wondering why I was so grumpy all the time.

For about 6-8 months I lived with the growing cognitive dissonance in my brain – of my fellow leaders telling me to “step up” and God’s gentle whisper telling me to slow down.  Five months ago, God took the decision out of my hands.  A veritable firestorm of little and not-so-little problems were dumped down on my head.  I got the message.  I cried “uncle” – and took a sabbatical of indefinite time to get my life back together.

I had expected to simply get some alone time with God, minister to my family, and figure out either a new way of being at the current church, or a new church where I could be under less pressure to perform.

Ummmm…..yeah.  Turns out God had other ideas.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire you might say – the Refiner’s fire.  My spirit was baked in the heat of dealing with the problems dumped down on my head.  It took about a month until life settled down to somewhat normal.

And then….the dreams came.

Now, for the record, I am very familiar with dreams, dreaming, REM-sleep, sleep cycles, brain waves, the lot.  Studied the biology of it in high school and college, studied the psychology of it in college.  As a creative right-brained person I have been a frequent, vivid, MGM-technicolor dreamer all my life.  Nightmares too.  And I have remembered many of them.  About 10-11 years ago I got smart and started writing the most memorable ones down, for future reference.  I have had a pretty good handle on my dreams and what’s been going in my subconscious, thankyouverymuch.

These dreams….. were different.  More vivid, more frequent, more *real*.

Right around the same time that things started calming down I paid a visit to our local library.  I love to read – voraciously.  I’ll sign out a whole stack of books at a time – fiction, non-fiction – whatever catches my fancy.  I have tended to stick to a few particular genres in my fiction. But lately I’ve been bored so have been perusing the new fiction arrivals for new authors.  And this novel, by an author I’d never heard of practically jumped off the shelf at me.  The cover art intrigued me.  It was a picture of a woman walking a Chartres labyrinth.  The book was called The Book of Love, by Kathleen McGowan.

As I was reading the novel, in which the main character is searching out the truth about Mary Magdalene and some mysteries of the early church, the dreams intensified.   The only other time I’ve ever had anything similar happen was one summer when I was 12 and had bronchitis for 2 weeks – during which time I read this great big fat novel and it encompassed my dreams too.

Except…. I wasn’t dreaming about the novel, per se.  Or its characters.  In some weird sychronicitous way – reading about a woman having dreams and visions triggered *me* having all these vivid dreams (and possibly visions – depending on your definition).

Long after finishing the book, I spent the next 2 months feeling a little bit like I was living 2 lives – my regular daily life doing mom-stuff, and my dream life where I was going on all these adventures.  I actually would wake up as exhausted as if I’d taken them for real.  I started to wonder about all those stories that talk about the dream world as being a real place.  I started to think maybe I’d inhaled too many paint fumes from the redecorating we were doing at the beginning of summer.

Truly, I didn’t know quite what to think….

(stay tuned for part 2)