Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Dreams?

Unpacking has in some ways been a bit of a challenge with this move, thanks in large part to the need I've felt to sort, simplify and purge.

But sorting, simplifying, and purging isn't easy for someone who has memories attached to most possessions, and dreams and hopes attached to many of those memories.

I stood in the shower tonight thinking about a next step in the unpacking process. About three large file containers full of paperwork I need to go through, largely full of notes from the years I spent in university, studying history, particularly European church history, and encountering Jesus in the midst of that.

As I stood there, I remembered a sermon I heard preached quite a number of years ago. The speaker shared a news item he'd read on the internet, about a woman who'd carried a baby in her womb for many years. There had been complications in the birthing process, the baby had died, and somehow, her body had never pushed the child from the womb (in a few cases I found on the internet tonight, the foetus had grown outside the womb). Eventually the pains of labor simply subsided, and over the course of years (46 in one case I read) the foetus fossilized. The women were never able to have other children. Usually many years later, the labor pains returned, and the women required surgery to "give birth" to this fossilized child they'd lost many years before.

The speaker used this story as an illustration of what happens when we cling to dreams that should die. They become hardened within us, fossilized, and we hold tightly to them, protecting them, and trying to nurture something within us that should already be dead.

It was a rather macabre illustration, but I've never forgotten that sermon, and tonight, as I stood in the shower contemplating the forthcoming need to sort through some things, I realized I needed to open my hands again. To hold things loosely.

Those history notes symbolize dreams. Dreams of teaching, of sharing my passion for the church - the bride of Christ - and mark it made on history. Teaching didn't turn out to be my career (I'd be terrible at doing it full time, quite frankly) but the passion to share the way I encountered Christ in history hasn't ever truly been something I've been able to let go of.

I felt again the need tonight to be willing to release that. I don't know if that means saying goodbye to it entirely. In this case it definitely means being willing to take the physical notes, convert them to an electronic and scaled down format for the sake of downsizing and storage space, and be willing to admit that maybe those moments of passionate encounter with Christ and his church were for me, and don't need to be shared.

And, as I stood there with the water running over me, I thought of other dreams, more deeply personal. Of relationships shattered. Of literal dreams, that came in the night. Of thoughts and prayers and longings. And I realized again the need to stand with open hands. To not cling. To let God not only give, but also take away. To be willing to allow him to purge the old and dead things (even if I can't see myself that they're dead) to create space for new things.

Come Lord, and create space within me...