Monday, 5 June 2017
The Inner Pharisee
Last week I was “conferring”, I was at the Haden Institute, Dream and Spirituality Conference in Hendersonville North Carolina. I was a tad worried about crossing the border into Trumpland. Ironically, I had the easiest border crossing I have ever had. There was only one car ahead of me in the line at the booth and the border guard just asked me what I was going to do in Hendersonville N.C. When I responded I was going to a Conference, he asked what I would be “conferring about”. I advised “dreams and spirituality” he gave we a funny look (as usually happens), and sent me on my way.
Lorna and I have gone to this conference for many years. Lorna couldn’t go this year because she had a family wedding to go to in Ottawa. I had already committed to lead dream groups and a workshop so I miss the event. The workshop was entitled The Ego, The Bible, and the Spiritual Journey. It is based on my book The Ego and the Bible which explores the role of the ego in many of the bible stories (I would be pleased to give you information about the workshop or the book). However, enough about the commercial.
In addition to the annual conference, the Haden Institute trains people to lead dream groups and to be spiritual directors. I have graduated form both programs and find leading dream groups and being a spiritual director to be a very rewarding ministry. In the approach dreams are considered God’s Forgotten Language; God speaks to us in our dreams but we have forgotten how to listen and understand the language of God in our dreams. This is true of many ways in which God speaks to us. My approach to spiritual direction is to help Directees understand how God is speaking to them and how to respond and deepen their relationship with God.
To give you an example God speaking to me in a dream, I awoke one mooring at the Conference and I remembered a phrase that was presented to me in a dream; “policies known and unknown”. That was all I remembered; it may have been part of a larger dream but I didn’t remember anything else. It was an interesting message but it really caught my attention later at the Eucharist that morning (each day started with a worship service at the beautiful outdoor chapel at the Kanuga Conference Center). The Rt. Rev. Larry Maze, retired Bishop of Arkansas was presiding and preaching.
The Gospel for the day was John 9: 1-8; this is the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. The Pharisees were critical of Jesus doing the miracle because it was on the Sabbath and Jesus broke the Holiness code by working on the Sabbath. In the sermon (I am paraphrasing here and Larry was much more eloquent) Larry noted that the Pharisees were concerned with maintaining the Holiness Code because it had worked well for the Jewish people. It had enables them to survive and continue as God’s chosen people for a long time under trying circumstances. Some people had to suffer because of the code but it was for the greater good and was from God. However, the Pharisees had allowed the Holiness Code to become an idol and they wanted the Jews to serve the idol rather than God.
As Larry noted we all have rules which we learned while we were growing up. They were necessary as we were growing up to help us and to protect us. We know many of these rules but others are often not in our awareness. We all have an inner Pharisee who wants us to obey these rules and keep us on the straight and narrow path. However, for the inner Pharisee these rules are God. Some of these rules will prevent or hinder us for living life fully as God intends. They can prevent us from being and becoming the people that God intends us to be. The message I received in my dream was to explore the “policies known and unknown” in my life which are preventing me from being the person God intends me to be.
After much work reflection and trial and error and mistakes false starts I have explored many of the rules and regulations and policies which my inner Pharisee want desperately for me to follow. The dream image is confirming I still have work to do to discover those unknown policies. I invite you to reflect on what are the policies that your inner Pharisee holds are a god if not God.