‘A SLEEP OF PRISONERS’
The human heart can go the lengths of God…
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now.
The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul men ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Where are you making for
So many thousand years to wake…
But will you wake, for pity’s sake?
To listen to Sir George Trevelyan recite this poem go to:SirGeorgeTrevelyanRecites_A_Sleep_of_Prisoners
As I looked out at the frozen, but slowly melting lake this morning, and contemplated writing my first entry for this blog, I was reminded of this beautiful poem by Christopher Fry. It has always spoken to me because it contains within it a deep acknowledgement of both the light and dark sides of being human. A number of close friends and associates have been encouraging me to write a blog for some time, but I have shied away from it. Why did I need to add my voice to the cacophony of voices and claims on the internet? What did it matter? Who was I to add anything to any discourse?
I am sure many of you have heard those voices of self-doubt whenever you think about beginning anything new. And of course, my inner critic, like all inner critics of any substance, had some valid points. Ah, there is the rub! We tend to only listen to how it is right, we rarely question how it is holding us back.
As I considered whether or not I would embark on this venture, I thought about the initials BLOG. If it were an anagram, what meaning would it have for me? Believe in Love over Goodness came to me, and somehow that fit. It spoke to an issue I have been considering for some time. As a student of Jungian thought and analytical psychology for over twenty years, I hold Jung’s Answer to Job in the highest regard. In it Jung tackles the whole notion of man’s relation to God, and the very nature of God him/herself. For those of you who are interested, I also strongly recommend Edward Edinger’s Transformation of the God-Image: An Elucidation of Jung’s Answer to Job as a companion book.
What if this world really is created in God’s image? What kind of a god creates a world filled with so much pain and suffering alongside the beauty? I grew up in an Anglican household, and like many other children was forced to go to Sunday school. The story that God was a loving, good, kind god who was all powerful and all knowing did not ring true for me. The whole thing had a false, stale air to it, and I started to dig in my heels. Finally my mother got tired of the fights on Sunday morning and we graduated to another form of spiritual teaching. She was my first spiritual teacher, and over the years until her death, we read many books together and had many wonderful discussions about the meaning of life. Although I had forsaken Sunday school, I always had a strong interest and belief in a higher power, and her wisdom and guidance over the years was inspirational.
However, it wasn’t until I came to Jung’s writings that I had a deeper insight into the potential nature of God. I say potential, because I do not claim to have any ultimate authority, nor did Jung. Like Socrates, he just raised the questions. In a sense, being on a spiritual path, means that you have to figure these things out for yourself, and if you have the inner drive to seek what is true, it will be the beacon of light that leads you onto your path. Jung called this journey the process of individuation. Along the way, you have to shed collective values and thinking and replace them with what you value and hold to be true on a deep soul level.
So coming back to the nature of God and reality, I had to shed the white-washed Anglican notion that God created everything as a good and beautiful world. This is a world of duality, of dark and light, good and evil. But then what is evil? Is it just an absence of good? Or is it a lack of consciousness? As a psychotherapist working with clients over the years, it certainly seemed true that it is when we are caught in those very areas that are like the swamplands of our psyches, that we are most likely to hurt or wound ourselves and others. Another name for these dark pits within us is the complex. It is like an emotional snake pit that we fall into and then start flailing around or lashing out at others. We see this both on an individual and group level.
The Gnostic worldview holds the view that this world was created by a demi-urge, and that this demi-urge could only create or bring forth from itself what is was, and as such, this world reflects that duality of light and dark. But beyond the realm of this demi-urge is a higher God, the one Christ referred to as his true Father, the God of Love.
For those of you who are interested, I encourage you to explore:
If you have gotten this far, thank you for reading. I would be very happy to receive your comments and insights. We are all in this together!