September 18th, 2003

I’ve lighted my candles. I came in early today to get some quiet time. I can feel the pressure of busyness building – a pressure that pushes against who I am somehow. I can feel within it the normal “healthy” pressure of having much to do – being mission oriented, servant hearted – all those things. I know I was created to fall into bed exhausted every night having  been completely spent in my purpose for that day. I don’t “fear” that kind of busy – I embrace it. But all of that is coated in a layer of anxiety over performing.

I realize why I really came in early this morning…MOSTLY to get work done.

“Come on come on…get peaceful so that everything you do today will be blessed…come on…get on with it!”

As I sat and watched the candles and thought “Shalom, shalom…” I realized that I was putting my “practices” into a very utilitarian role. If my practices are designed to facilitate intimacy with God, then my intimacy with God becomes utilitarian as well, and a truth about me comes into view…and it looks like an enormous sleeping dragon:

I’m STILL putting everything else first. My intimacy with God, my BECOMING does not have primacy in my life…not even for one day!

(Unless of course I leave everything behind and wander around in the woods by myself with nothing to distract me for 6 days! Then I can seem to keep it straight.)

I come bounding around a curve on a narrow mountain trail, sword and shield in hand, feeling cocky, singing a song out loud, feeling fine, when I’m stopped in my tracks by the sight of this immense creature. I traveled a great distance and endured many hardships to get here, knowing that I would face a dragon. But I was not prepared for how big it really is. I swallow hard as I scan the expanse of its scaly exterior. The ground literally shakes with each breath the giant takes. I’m glad it’s asleep right now, while I figure out what to do. How do you defeat something this big? My sword (the length of ONE of its scales) would barely scratch the surface of its skin. I suppose I could devise some elaborate strategy to defeat it: create a massive landslide and crush it? Ridiculous. I could simply retreat and then lie about it…that works! I could try to reason with it…tame it and make it my pet. I could simply wake it up with a start and let it eat me…get it over with.

Or I could accept the fact that my purpose is to fight the dragon…”I shall defend my true self, whatever the cost may be, I shall fight on the beaches, I shall fight on the landing grounds, I shall fight in the fields and in the streets, I shall fight in the hills; I shall never surrender…”

What if I’m destined to never defeat the dragon – but never to surrender to it either? What if by some magic, it does not have the power to defeat me, but only to engage me in battle to the exclusion of all other activity on my part…I can’t let my guard down for a minute.

Oh, Father – there you go again! I just saw a picture of Sam Wise leading Gallum through the wilds by a leash. Sam could never turn his back for more than a moment. He could never sleep peacefully – he was linked to his enemy – bonded to him. He must protect Frodo AND himself from the enemy. All at once repulsed, all at once in conflict with him, battling him every step along the way, suspecting, grappling, subduing, but never defeating…because he needed him to be a guide.

God – how is my driveness – my fear of being a disappointment – my dragon – how is this a guide?

I will not turn back. I will not leave. I will not slow my pace, I will not surrender. The journey that I thought was all about the ring when it began, turned into protecting Frodo. Neither of those purposes have changed – they are still there. But the means to complete them has changed. I must become. The only way to complete these missions is to place them BEHIND “becoming” in terms of priority. If Frodo is to be protected, and if the ring is to be destroyed, I must be who I was made to be.

God help me to rest in my becoming, despite the noise and distractions.

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