|Wrestling With The Angel
|“I live my life in growing orbits,
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last
but that will be my attempt.
I am circling around God,
around the ancient tower…
I still don’t know if I am a falcon,
Or a storm,
or a great song.”
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
Again our path takes us into the realm of snow.
The journey of the soul always leads us back
to areas we have traversed.
Winter finds us again.
We are coming full-circle.
“Soul winters” catch us.
We are never prepared for the experience.
From the onset we are unaware of the magnitude
of what will happen to us.
All we notice is a dwindling energy, a growing tiredness,
a lack of creativity and imagination,
and a mounting restlessness.
(We consider this is another down-time and shortly, we will revive again.)
However, winters of soul are serious
and carry enormous consequences.
Eventually, we stammer and halt…
struggling every step of the way
as we become shrouded in this darkening cocoon.
All the life we have known is dwindling away.
The past energies of fire and passion
whimper in the simmering coals.
Understanding fails us.
We grope for meaning.
We find ourselves lost in a frozen landscape.
Our inner life struggles like a fish on dry ground…
shaking wildly, then quiet.
Some of us take a long time to enter
into the “place of emptiness,” fighting the whole way.
Yet, what fights with us is so great!
Our only option is to surrender to the Angel of winter.
Like Jacob of old, we wrestle with a divine encounter
that will mold our life.
Grace is fashioning us.
We don’t have a clue to what is happening.
Yet, over time, we resign ourselves to “the emptying of our cup.”
At some point we become still.
We become aware that we are cloaked within the grave of the earth…
where the roots are being nurtured by the life-sustaining sap.
Faith is our companion.
We trust the gentle hand of God.
“Yet, O Lord, You are our Father.
We are the clay,
You are the potter;
we are the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
“And the angel of God wrestled
with Jacob until daybreak” (Genesis 32:24-26).
The angel touched the thigh of Jacob
and he walked with a limp the rest of his life.
And Jacob cried out to be blest…
and the angel replied that his name was no longer Jacob, but Israel.
We are never the same after our encounter with winter sojourns.
We learn silence and waiting.
We learn surrender.
We travail from a place of emptiness.
Days upon days pass through us.
The residues of past vigorous encounters with life
are washed away.
We are cleansed and quieted.
In the deep northern woods winter is deftly silent.
As one stands in the snow-covered forest
all the inward voices of the mind eventually come to a standstill.
What we hear is the “quiet-hush” of the winter landscape.
So it is in the journey of the soul.
We are stripped as bare as the trees
and endure the fierce cold winds.
We embrace the peace of God and wait.