Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blue Crabs and Decompression: Ramping Up the Soul

Blue Crabs and Decompression

Usually after I preach, there's this (sometimes) pronounced spiritual flatness, let-down, pendulum swing from the sacred to the profane. This is a common phenomenon, and it's natural. It is similar to the post-communion ablutions at the altar where the clergy (or the altar guild--in a little-appreciated yet profound ministry) lovingly bring the chalice and paten from their mystical usage as heavenly utensils back "down to earth", to the plain and ordinary. Sometimes I struggle with this phenomenon, wishing to stay in the mystery a bit longer, but finding that my soul feels at worst, depleted and at best distant.

But this time, on Monday, after engaging with a book called The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three by Cynthia Bourgeault, I had a unique time for reflection, but more importantly for meditation and contemplation on the nature of God. I was picking 3 dozen blue crabs. It took several hours. I was alone because my wife was at work, and it was just me and the crabs. I used to have the same experience shelling butter beans. Repetitive work with the hands while the mind is free to be, to extend thought and even to synthesize. Books like Bourgeault's sometimes make my brain hurt, but I found it to be thrilling and affirming at this point in my travels with God. And this time, instead of just feeling depleted, I was being fed, presumably by the hand of God, or at least the angels.

When I walk with my wife on the beach, sometimes we walk step-by-step and side-by-side. But during those walks we will separate--she in the littoral wash and I up by the dunes, and vice versa. Always we come back together, resuming our walk side-by-side. We are secure in our relationship, and there is no angst when we find each other again, just the excitement of sharing a discovery-- some shell, or a shark's tooth, or a small creature. It's like that with God, of course. We zig and zag with one another, sometimes walking together, sometimes apart. What I'm finding out as I learn to release my self to His wholeness is that there is no need for angst when, after walking separately for awhile, we come back together to celebrate our love for each other.

I love the spiritual disciplines and I teach them and write about them a great deal. But I am not a disciplined person, at least not in the classic sense. There is an inner discipline and recognition of God (Love). But my experience of it, and my method vary. I am an extrovert, as I've mentioned before. This extroversion makes me prone to distraction. The beauty of this protracted time of meditation and contemplation with the blue crabs was hidden in the task. My hands could only do one thing--pick crabs. They were messy, and even if the phone rang, or I got a message notification, or if a thought came that I wanted to write down, I was constrained by the crabness on my hands. I was being gifted with freedom for my soul through the constraint of my body.

Breaking news! Being yoked brings refreshment and life and freedom and peace. Who knew?

And where my angst of separation in my usual post-preaching spiritual brown-out finally was banished from my soul was in the re-affirmation from Bourgeault that God is indeed in both, the sacred AND the profane. Most of us believe this in our heads, but fear in our hearts that it isn't true. And fear brings the urge to control. And controlling is trying to be God. And trying to be God puts a person in a world of hurt.

Nothing so profane--and non-kosher, by the way--than 3 dozen blue crabs. And I think I finally took a baby-step into freedom that was a long time coming.

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