I love Lent.
Note: nobody ever tried to make me give up chocolate.
Rather, Lent always appealed to the adventurer in me: it’s less about self-denial and more about making room, saying yes, putting on the hiking boots for a serious stretch of soul journey in the company of the Christ. In the Christian tradition, we see the Christ mystery (which could maybe be called “How it is when the Divine Is Embodied and Gets Loose in the World”) in the story and person of Jesus. But this soul-stretching time of deep journeying is part of every wisdom tradition, and I hope that as you read this, you’ll be able to sense how this story translates into your language.
Once I had a journey dream: I am one of a small group hiking with a guide, a rough, wise woman who loves wild places and knows the way. We trek up to a high alpine meadow on a ridge, a zillion miles from anywhere. We set up tents. As dusk settles, we light the fire. The wind picks up. Night falls. The stars shine with unbelievable brilliance. The air becomes chillier, then cold. Sparks fly from our campfire, and as the wind grows wilder, the fire flares out then settles into glowing embers. The night goes on and on, and we are so cold – but instead of huddling in our tents, we stretch out in our sleeping bags in the stiff grass, facing each other across the dying coals. The guide starts laughing in a warm, delighted way: she knows how alive we feel, and how utterly right and good it is to be together in this wild freezing darkness. The night, the wind, the companionship – all of it is exhilarating and quiet too, as we feel ourselves full of the Presence that fills this wilderness.
I wake up thinking – this is how I want to live.
That dream is my image for how it feels to be in Lent. Certainly, in the dream we are without a number of things that would be nice to have (such as chocolate, not to mention heat and light) but maybe if we had those things, we wouldn’t experience that wild, living presence in the sky and grass and wind, and that sense of being so well companioned on the trail.
The setting is so much of the dream. When I look at the setting in any dream, I’m looking at an address, or the part of me the dream addresses. I can ask who am I when I am here? So when I think of that dream, I say, “Here I am in my inner wilderness, walking with Wisdom and my inner pilgrim band, and this place is full of forces: darkness and starlight, fire and ash, and the wild holy wind of the Spirit that is knowable, tangible, invisible, true, and I'm breathing it, it's part of my body. When I am here, I am receptive. I am not stuck inside my own perceptions.
In waking life, I couldn’t actually live on that ridge. There is raw danger up there, and I could die of overexposure. But as a spirit person, I know that without this place, and the awake-in-the-night awe of it in the company of these people, I’m not fully alive. I just hope that when I get home, I can stammer out what happened, and why I want others to come with me next time.
As a person who chooses to live inside a very capacious version of the Christian story, I think of Lent as a six week trek with Jesus. His life journey is an individuation journey, as Jung would call it. So my participation in Lent is participation with that life of the Divine Human, from calling to response to death to resurrection. Lent is a ritual of companioned individuation.
Where our feet take us during Lent, awake and in dreams, will show us where we stand on things, how we choose to move through time, who travels with us, what our perspective is in relation to others. Maybe we see our habitual assumptions and skewed values. Maybe we are challenged to shift positions, share a new view, or travel a road less taken.
Count on it, an intentional Lenten journey will take you someplace new. If you choose to journey with your dreams this Lent, they will put you into the territory of what Jung calls the Self, which is what others might call the Divine Within, the Imago Dei, the Soul, true self, or Essence. Every spiritual tradition has a name for this vital transpersonal Aliveness that draws us further into the mystery, reveals the wisdom that companions us, and shows us how to thrive.
If this appeals to you, consider joining me and a small group of others for a 6-week Lenten dream group (details below).
We will frame our dreamwork with six place-centric passages in the Jesus journey as narrated in the Gospels. Even if you don’t recall a dream, you can dream into the gospel story. And if you bring your dream to the group, we will enter your journey with you.
Deep Dreams and Traveling Mercies,
Hafiz, the 14th century Sufi mystic offers a lovely invitation to the journey:
The place where you are right now
God circled on a map for you.
Wherever your eyes and arms and heart can move
Against the earth and sky,
The Beloved has bowed there --
Our Beloved has bowed there knowing
You were coming.
NOW at FIRE BY NIGHT -
TWO NEW OFFERINGS... SOON!
Lenten Dream Groups starting Feb. 15 and 18
Dreamwork is soulwork.
And the Jungian perspective on dreams is deeply aligned with the essence of Christian spirituality. Church folks, this is a good place to start with dreamwork. And for those of you who like Jesus just fine, but church makes you restless – or maybe you just don’t do church at all anymore – you will feel at home here. Because this has nothing to do with church, and everything to do with experiencing the Christ within together with companions on the way.
In a Lenten Dream Group, you’ll explore your dreams within the framework of six passages about Jesus’ life journey as seen in the Gospels.
In each session, we’ll talk a little about the Jesus journey, then explore two dreams each meeting. In between you’ll receive short readings and dreamwork practice suggestions.
This group includes six weekly meetings plus a final celebration our dreams will help us plan. Limit 5 dreamers per group. Cost $150.
Monday Nights, beginning Feb. 15 6-7:30 Central
Thursday Mornings, beginning Feb. 9:30-11 Central
Email me soon to insure your place - these start soon, and places are limited! email@example.com.
For a description of dream groups, visit http://www.firebynight.net/dream-groups.html
Saturday Feb. 20
Your dreams are soul stories that challenge and enlighten you - and sometimes you want to share them! But how do you tell a dream so that its mystery & meaning come across to people who aren’t steeped in dreamwork?
Here you’ll learn to craft a powerful dream into a tellable tale. This simple storytelling process will give you insight into your dream and help you articulate its magic.
Before the workshop, choose a dream that has stayed with you awhile. Write it in first person, present tense, double spaced. You’ll also need a stack of paper and a box of crayons or colored pencils.
Saturday Feb. 20, 9-12 Central time, 10-1 Eastern.
Cost: $25 (Venmo: @FirebyNight. Zelle: 615-594-5930 Paypal: Fire by Night Dreamwork)
To register, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline for registration is Friday Feb. 19. Looking forward to seeing you there!