I want it recorded so that I do NOT forget that it was real. That Spirit spoke to me and, with much argument, I obeyed. That this is a life-changer.
By the second night on the Earlham College Campus, I had become comfortable enough to unpack Mother Turtle for the evening’s open-mic event. So many times I had skipped this portion, but tonight, this time was right. Right enough to offer up the myth I’d drafted after a shamanic waking dream, which explains the personal significance of the turtle that is also universal. As I pulled her out of the blue Ikea bag – it had been drizzling for my trip across campus – I could see the wonder building as I held up the road-weary, damaged and repaired eight-year-old Turtlebox, mother of 60-some commission and gifts. It gave me courage to read the newest piece of the book I’d put aside to live, rather than write, for awhile. I choked at the end as I was reminded of my status as a child of God, one she desperately loves. I noticed heads nod.
The next morning’s home group was bittersweet as we re-capped the way one of us had previously broken open and we responded tenderly, then prepared to leave one another, flowing into worship at the campus Meetinghouse. I had worshipped there before and was looking forward to its peacefulness. There was wonderful ministry that began to work on me:
What? I don’t need a Turtlebox, a book or a studio? No props? Really, God, just me – just myself?
That was a jolt, but nothing compared to the next instruction:
Lay down on the pew and surrender.
What? You’ve got to be kidding? Really – right here, right now. Just lay down on this pew?
What will all of these people think? Maybe that I’m just tired?
Lay down on the pew and surrender.
[With heart palpitations mimicking the ones I get when I have vocal ministry, I recognized I could not deny this request.] Well, if anywhere has ever been safe to do something like this in public, it would be here with all of these mystics. OK.
I’m laying here, now what?
I don’t know how to do that. I need help, God. Human help.
Worship ends, a gentleman walks over me to shake hands with my neighbor and I am still laying there, unsure what to do, but not moving. A female voice says it’s time for prayers and I find myself rising and blabbering:
God just told me to lay down on this pew and surrender and I don’t know how. Can you pray for me and help me?
Did I really just do that? No one much would have noticed me if I had just lain there. But did I have to dramatically rise up and say something?
No sooner had I asked than the warmth of a body and a pair of hands was holding my feet and soon another was at my head offering a hand, then a clean handkerchief. I grabbed at the hands by my head. As people began to clear, I looked up to see Allison* at my head. “I had the impluse to come right away, but then I always do and wasn’t sure this was right,” she said. “It was,” I responded.
My angels sat with me, then guided me outside for the group picture. They said I looked remarkably well with my glasses on. I still hid in the background. We went to a bench and Allison fetched a drink for me.
“It’s all your fault,” I giggled at her. “You and that tiny seed idea.”
As I re-entered, people came by with hugs and well wishes. Then the woman who had really begun all of this, the 1994 founder of the Quaker mystics publication that sponsored the weekend (What Canst Thou Say), stopped and I blamed her with the same humor. Someone proffered that we had tended to our spirits, but, perhaps, not to our physical needs during the retreat. Others said this was not unusual after a deep gathering. I had totally opened and trusted.
Another meal and surprising goodbyes. Stuart sauntered up with giant hug. “This clearly was your fault,” I jokingly hissed. “You were the one who asked help me in our first worship.”
Quiet Dave said I’d been an inspiration and we began the new chorus of “until next time” instead of goodbye.
Then my grounded, loving weekend roommate offered to drive home.
How do you come home from that? I've been struggling with that answer all week. By slowing down for one, I've learned. I am not ready for complete re-entry. I am also not forcing clarity on the wisdom I was given ... as if I could. In fact, I have asked my Quaker Meeting (church) for a clearness committee, an amazing process of others listening to where God is working in the requester's life.
Mostly, I'm just grateful for the experience and how it will unfold.
• When have I been truly opened?
• What precipitated the opening?
• What did the opening facilitate?
• How have I been faithful to a call from God?
• Where is Spirit currently working in my life?
Lay down and surrender.
Lay it down:
fear and anger,
resistance and reluctance,
woundedness and disease,
struggle and hardship,
control and envy,
ego and attachment,
disconnection and isolation,
doubt and murkiness,
shoulds and regret.
Know my seed within you,
planted in your heart
long ago when you
were pure Spirit.
Our connection is
tonic for bodily living,
empowerment and joy.
Exactly how you live
in this world,
but not of it.
Your tether to the Eternal,
Source of the seed.
Rejoice in this gift.
Sense its power.
Feel its love, healing
You are worthy of
it – you are
I am here – within –
Call on me.
within and without.
*During a difficult period, Allison struggled with God and recognized the tiny seed of divinity within, asking if this is all and simultaneously knowing its vastness. When she pointed to the center of her chest to identify where it resided, I knew this to be true in myself.
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