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.
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