Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God.
-Henri- Frederic Ariel
Make a bit of room. Leave a little space. That may not sound like anything radical or revolutionary. But it turns out that it is one of Life’s favorite ways to make us into something new.
Be cautious with those cultural messages about aggressively tilling and turning up your whole soil. Watch out for all the heroic talk about striving and perfecting, struggle and control. Much of the time, transformation is a much subtler art. It’s about stillness, listening and waiting to be led, not fighting with yourself and others to make sure you are in the lead.
In short, when it comes to transformation, the message of spirituality is “Be careful with what you’ve been taught and told because much of it takes us in exactly the wrong direction.” Our challenge as a community of transformation is to remind each other to take a different tack. More often than not, it’s about breathing rather than becoming better; patience not perfection; depth not dominance; attention not improvement.
That part about attention instead of improvement is especially important. It’s so easy to get transformation mixed up with fixing. And fixing is transformation’s biggest foe. Trying to purify or prove ourselves is the surest way to stay stuck. The pursuit of purity focuses us on our inadequacy and inferiority, causing us to overlook those unexpected guests that Henri-Frederic speaks of.
And, friends, we don’t want to miss them: those seeds brought by the wind and those passing birds are the partners that make transformation possible. They help us notice new paths. They invite us to walk with a new step. They awaken in us new songs. They remind us that transformation is not something we do alone. Transformation doesn’t have to be a long and lonely struggle. It can be the simpler and trusting act of taking the hand of “an unknown god” and being willing to dance a new dance.
So, friends, this month, leave some room on that dance floor of yours. Keep your eyes peeled. And when that unexpected guest reaches out its hand, don’t be afraid to follow its lead.
Excerpt from the UU Soul Matters Curriculum.