There are four essential steps to regaining the full health of spirit:
Ask, release, surrender, act.
Last week we covered ask, so now we’re progressing on to the lovely concept of release.
Before we get further into the process of spiritual alignment, I need to mention something I call “Soul Space” (St. Catherine of Siena called it the “Cell of Self-Knowledge”). This is the place within ourselves where our intuitive work begins, where our true self blossoms and extends outward; the point of spiritual entry, the light within. Soul space is our natural state of being — open, blessed, able to see through the veils and illusions which constantly crowd our lives. We’re meant to dwell in this space, to be free in our vision and insight, open to all possibilities without judgment or prejudice. Somewhere along the line, however, we’ve failed. Perhaps forgotten is a kinder word, but the meaning is the same: our crowded lives have caused us to lose soul space, and in order to survive and spiritually thrive, we need to gain it back. The best way to do this is by erasing anything that acts as a block to our soul’s progress. If we’re already filled with useless “stuff” and, even more damaging, toxic people and circumstances, we can’t be filled with the light of our true spiritual essence. If there's no room at the inn, where will we rest?
We have to create the space.
Just as a page filled with scribbles is of no use to a writer, so are we of no use if we’re already filled with the things that no longer serve us. Preconceived notions, blocks of anger or resentment, holding grudges against self or others, prejudice and biases … all those things get in our way of growth and progression. So, too, does toxicity—such as abuse, self-blame, and other toxic situations. We need to begin to love ourselves as much as we love others. We need to be empty, a blank page. We need to erase so we can be filled with the only words that matter — those of the Spirit.
It’s crucial to realize our true spiritual essence, here and now. The Kingdom is within — why wait?
Release: The Power of Becoming an Empty Vessel
We’re all vessels, blessed with the spiritual potential to be filled with the richest wine. In order to overflow with the benefits of the Divine, to create this soul space, we first need to erase. In other words, we need to become empty. If we’re not empty, we can’t be filled. This is what the Biblical story of the wedding at Cana is all about.
The story goes like this: an unidentified couple kissed under the huppa, and after this beautiful consummation (with an even better one to come), they threw a huge reception. This celebration was so festive that soon the wine was depleted. (Whether there were a profuse amount of semi-sober of guests or a mere handful of very drunk guests, the Gospel of John doesn’t specify. Regardless, it sounds like a fun time.)
Anyway, Jesus’ mother approached him with the dire wedding predicament, but what was he supposed to do? He wasn’t the bartender, so it really wasn’t any of his business.
“It’s not my time,” he said to the Holy Mum. In all honesty, in his humanity he may have been feeling unsure; up to that point he’d never done anything supernatural, and he was a bit buzzed from the previously-consumed wine, combined with a severe lack of food. (He’d just spent forty days in the desert eating nothing but an occasional and inadvertent fruit fly.)
Holy Mum wasn’t fazed. “Just do whatever he says,” she instructed the servants. Then she gave them a very large tip. (This morsel of information isn’t found in the Bible, although it does seem appropriate given her Son’s penchant for charity.) She either held a place of authority at this wedding or was extremely generous in her tipping abilities, because the servants obeyed without question.
Jesus obviously had a change of heart. Perhaps he took pity on his mother, who was trying so hard to make this wedding a success, or maybe he didn’t want to see the guests lose their revelry. Regardless, he told the servants to fill six large vessels with water. He then instructed them to pour some of the liquid into a goblet and take it to the headwaiter for tasting.
When the headwaiter took a sip, he tasted not water but the finest wine. He was shocked at how fabulous the stuff was, saying, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when the guests are tumbling over themselves in ridiculous drunkenness and can no longer tell the difference, the inferior wine is served. Here, the best wine has been saved for last.”
Apparently, Jesus was quite the winemaker.
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, if those vessels hadn’t been empty and waiting, they never would have been chosen for such a worthy calling.
We must be those vessels. We must release, we must empty ourselves. If we don’t, we can’t ever be filled with the goodness of divine wine.
This “empty” point is the first step, just as the miracle of the empty vessels at the Cana wedding was Jesus’ first astonishing deed. Turning water into wine is the story of awakening from the singular level of our surface-selves into the wholeness of our divinely-graced selves.
To be filled is to realize our true divinity, the God-seed which we can now nourish and allow to grow. As the bold 14th century mystic Meister Eckhart said, “The seed of God is in us … and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God.” Watching this God-seed sprout and grow is the greatest joy of all, for it’s an eternal joy; it’s the knowing of the true self, the recognition of the depth of our interior soul space.
This is why the idea of a Lenten sacrifice isn’t simply about letting go, but also about filling that newly-cleared void with something positive and ultimately beneficial to your soul. Rather than merely giving something up, it’s important to realize we also need to replace. The only way to release fear is to replace it with the direct essence of love. Once we’ve released, we need to allow ourselves to be filled with the divine Water, and then we can watch it transform from within, into rich and spiritually intoxicating wine.
In a nutshell:
Erase … Create Soul Space
Inspirational quotes for the week:
“The seed of God is in us … and accordingly its fruits will be God-nature. Pear seeds grow into pear trees, nut seeds into nut trees, and God-seed into God.” (Meister Eckhart, 14th century German mystic)
“God’s Son or Idea is like a flowing spring in the core of the soul. If you throw earth over it ... it will be choked up and covered so that you won’t know where it is or be aware of it any longer. It’s still flowing, however, and if the dirt that has been thrown over it is removed, it’ll be discovered again, and one will know about it.” (Origen, 3rd century scholar of Alexandria)
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I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.