The season is upon us; a time of change, rebirth, transition, transformation. Everywhere I look, I am reminded of this. My partner and I have just moved into a new house. I am starting grad school in two months. My spiritual community is going through a major transition. The world is preparing for a global shift in consciousness, as well as the solstice shift from more darkness to more light. The Christian community is preparing for a renewed celebration of the birth of their Christ. Businesses are finishing up fiscal years, the media is creating “Best of 2012” lists, and we are all beginning to convince ourselves that next year we will truly commit to our New Year’s resolutions.
‘Tis the season of change. Ding dong merrily on high.
I generally approach change and transition in my life as an adventure, but right now I’m feeling a little changed out, so I felt the need to remind myself of why change is good and that with Faith, it doesn’t even have to be scary.
To me, the best definition of change is “to transform”. This inherently feels positive, as a moving ahead to something better. It also implies, for me, that change is something we SEEK OUT and ENCOURAGE in ourselves and others.
In the natural world, all around us, there are millions of transformations taking place every second of every day – butterflies emerging from cacoons, leaves turning brown and falling, landmasses shifting, volcanoes erupting, water carving through rock. From minute transformations to everyday miracles like birth, we are surrounded by the positive process and result of change. Even in death and destruction – an animal of prey feeds a predator which in turn feeds another animal, dead plants fall to the earth and compost into fertilizer allowing more growth. I’m guessing that most of us would be hard pressed to come up with any change in nature that doesn’t have some sort of positive result, but when the change is personal, when it affects US intimately, it is much, much harder to see the positives.
In a book called Saying Yes to Change: Essential Wisdom for Your Journey, Joan Borysenko and Gordon Dveirin describe the three stages of transformation.
• Separation: The Journey Begins – When change occurs, both big and small, we are separated from “what was”. The human response to this is fear. At a deeper level, however, a spiritual process is beginning to unfold. The shell of the ego cracks, and its habitual way of constructing the world falters. Deprived of familiar frameworks, we are invited to enter the ritual process of transformation.
• Dwelling at the Threshold: Surrendering to the Unknown – This is the “time between no longer and not yet”. We have died to who we were, but are not yet reborn to who we might become. We all go through narrow places where we’re challenged to let go of old beliefs and habit patterns that limit us. This is the great unknown where ordeals are faced, allies appear, and the gifts of trusting in and surrendering to a larger divine reality are claimed.
• The Return: Transformation and Rebirth – Our spiritual transformation entails dying to the false-self with its fears, attachments, and need to control. With the rebirth to our true nature, or God-self, we are in alignment with a larger whole and truly support the inner freedom and well-being of all. The strengths discovered in the second phase of our transformation are powerful gifts that we bring with us for the good of family, community, and the world. With each small change that we embrace and surrender to, a transformation takes place, leading us closer and closer to this re-birth of our God-self.
So, if you are in the midst of an unwanted change, rather than thinking of yourself as an unwilling victim, think of yourself as an initiate on a journey of the soul, which will bring you solace and wisdom. The challenge on this journey is to pay attention, heal what needs healing and grieve what we’ve lost as testimony to how precious it has been – but to NOT let these things stop us from moving forward.
In a book called Warriors of the Heart, Danaan Parry describes life as a series of trapeze swings, where she’s either hanging onto a trapeze bar, swinging along or, at times of change, she’s hurtling across space inbetween trapeze bars. I think most of us spend the majority of our lives hanging on for dear life to the trapeze bar of the moment, swinging along steadily and comfortably.
But every once in awhile, you happen to glance up and notice, way out in the distance ahead of you, an empty bar swinging. We know, of course, somewhere in our God-selves, that the empty bar has our name on it, and we know too, somewhere deep inside, that in order to grow we need to let go of our current bar and move to the new one.
Danaan says, each time this happens she prays she won’t have to let go of her old bar completely before being able to grab the new one. Stretching…..sigh, but of course the trapeze doesn’t work that way, and you MUST release your grasp and hurtle across space before you can grab onto the new bar. And of course, this is terrifying! It doesn’t matter that in all our previous jumps we have made it. Each time we are desperately afraid of the black emptiness below us, of the unknown ahead of us. But by this time, we are aware enough to know that staying where we are is no longer an option. And so, we jump, and, as Danaan says, “for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, we soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet here.”
And this is the second phase of Transformation; the transition, the surrendering to the unknown. And it is here, I believe, that real change occurs. REAL change – not pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time someone pushes my buttons. As I mentioned earlier, this phase is where we discover our true gifts and can come into direct contact with the Christ within ourselves.
Danaan Parry says, “In our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as a “no-thing”, a non-place between places. The old trapeze bar is real, and we hope to God the new one is real as well, but the void in between is just a scary, confusing nowhere that must be gotten through as quickly as possible.
But wait! No! What a wasted opportunity! What if the transition zone is the only REAL thing and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void where the real change and growth occurs for us? Whether or not this is true, what IS true is that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places that should be honored, even savored. Even with all the fear and pain, these transitions are still the most alive, growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives. And so, we must begin with transforming our need to grab the new bar, and allow ourselves to dwell in the place inbetween. Danaan says, “It can be frightening, but it can also be enlightening in the truest sense of the word. Who knows, hurtling through the void, we may just learn how to fly.”
The most important thing about all of this talk of change is Faith and believing in the certainty that LOVE is all there is and Spirit is everywhere. In fact, I feel pretty safe saying that while we are hurtling through that void, even though it may look like a bottomless black hole, I’m thinking there is a safety net down there and it’s Spirit. Spirit IS in every change – and if we remind ourselves of that, there can be no fear. Because, remember, wherever we are, Spirit is, and all is well.