"The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the ascent from below..." Plato, The Allegory of the Cave in The Republic
Have you ever read Plato’s The Republic? Well I haven’t but at the Christmas Eve service at Christ (Anglican) Church in Plano, where I was visiting, the pastor said to the audience that something he said he hoped this evening something he said would speak to each of us, and that we would know what it was when we heard it. I've heard that before, and never really heard anything that particularly clear as a message to me. But this time, it happened.
He was talking about how Jesus was born in a cave, and I was like, say what? I thought he was born in some little shack next to an inn, in a manger. The pastor didn’t explain, but went on to talk about Jesus was born in a cave and was laid to rest in a cave, and then he also rose from the cave, and this is what we are called to do. At some point in the sermon I think he actually said, “Come out of the cave!” I don’t even remember exactly what it was in reference to, or how he said it, but when he said it, it was clear as lightning that was a Word direct to me.
It was a reference to the Resurrection, of course, and coming out of darkness into light. Having suffered a lot of low-level depression through my life, on and off really, and to differing degrees but having experienced some blues lately that I don’t totally understand, it was a message to my very heart - a positive and uplifting and encouraging one. I journaled about it and wrote about the message in my gratitude journal later that night. After the service and at Christmas Eve dinner, our family had a conversation about it too, and my daughter had learned from her church (she goes to a different one than I do now) that in the region where Jesus was born, there are a lot of caves and people would keep their animals in these caves - that was their animal holding facility so to speak, their "barns." And my aunt and uncle, who had recently visited the holy Land, concurred. I was fascinated that I’d never heard this detail about Jesus being born in a cave before - you learn something new every day, aye?
And I actually have found myself happier and more joyful the past couple of days, though loneliness and sorrow will occasionally strike like a knife, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s not that severe - not anything like the lead blanket depression I experienced after my divorce (or also about halfway through my relationship with Doug - probably when I realized it wasn't right but I stayed anyway...). Now it's more just some small pangs of sorrow and usually tears that come and pass quickly.
So tonight, I tweeted something about the message to me from the Christmas Eve sermon being “Come out of the Cave” and then on a whim, I decided to Google the phrase. The first thing that came up was Plato’s dialogue on “The Allegory of the Cave” and I was already blown away that someone as famous, so to speak, as Plato had written about a cave, and then was especially blown away when I realized the topic was spot on to what the sermon message actually had meant to me (come out of the depression into joy - the time is now), but then, it added a deeper dimension which blew my mind completely. The allegory of the cave is a dialogue from the utopian philosophical treatise, The Republic, which I actually haven’t read - but plan to now - and it refers to how humanity is often stuck in this worldview that is so limited (the cave - where people see only shadows of the reality), and when a person first comes out into the sunlight, they are blinded and confused and yet slowly they gain the full vision and realize the truth of not only the situation but the difficulty and challenge of convincing those still in the cave that they are even in a cave - living with a limited worldview. It has relevance to so many things... close-minded worldviews, the understanding of a deeper form of religion or spirituality, grasping who God really is (or, shall I say - we never really can - but we can have a truer understanding that God is love and grace, not judgment or condemnation or guilt), and in our own recovery from the painful circumstances of our childhoods and lives, and into a more beautiful philosophy of viewing the world and living in it with said grace and love and joy.
I can’t even express how much this whole thing means to me. I have felt for at least a decade that God has called me to speak on some deep topics to the world - something I have done only in bits and pieces. My book was to be a part of that, and after the issue that happened with that, I have sort of shrunk back from this calling. So now, in my time, it is time. Let it unfold as it should.
I love the ending line of Socrates (Plato’s teacher, who he uses in his dialogues to tell the story) - it is so beautiful and wise and profound. It speaks to “recovery” and enlightenment of the soul, and the personal growth that comes with that whole process.
“The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the ascent from below…”So with that, here are a few more photos from my Christmas with my family!
We went to spend Christmas with my mom and stepdad Skip in Frisco, outside Dallas and drove up on the 23rd. While Savi and I went out to Old Navy on Christmas Eve morn (does that even make sense?!) to use up my expiring Groupon, Sam and Skip worked on the gingerbread house construction. Skip working on the gingerbread brothel - ahem house - Sam decided that because I used tall, skinny pirouette cookies as poles outside the house, "what is this, a brothel?" I was like, say what? He was like, what kind of house has poles? Then I realized he was thinking of like pole dancing, I guess, though where that young innocent mind would come up with something like that I don't know! ;) The original plan, which we hatched while still in Houston, was that Sam was going to wear his Snuggie and his moose hat when aunt Linda and uncle Vance first arrived so he would seem like an eccentric and weird teenager. I haven't seen them since 1999 myself, so Sam was quite small and technically has never "met" them (though they've "met" him as a baby!) We laughed hysterically at the thought but he wouldn't do it once it came down to it. Darn!This is my mom, me, Savannah and Sam about ready to go to church. I'm not really taller than Savi but I had high heeled boots on - he he. My little secret for world, or, er parental, domination!
I love my girl so much!
Later we came back to the house and opened presents. This is Sam's gift to me, and I love the way he wrapped it! Looks like a hat, so I tried it on for size. It's actually a lid for my huge cast iron skillet.
Opening presents. :)
Savannah got me a ring that matches one she got too. Aww!
I had to laugh because I'm always making this face in photos - I call it the mommee face! I am always talking and Savannah is taking photos and she's like quit talking so I can take a photo already! Sam looks so handsome!
Uncle Vance and Aunt Linda! Linda is my mom's fraternal twin sister! Their daughter Holly (a medical doc) I have visited in Tacoma several times whenever I go to the Pacific Northwest! (see serendipity and snowed in from 2008)Linda and Vance got me this Jerusalem cross from Israel - I love it! And my daddy and Bev sent me this awesome long sleeve T from Wild Olive that I've been eyeing for some time. It says Transform your Mind. And on the back... It says Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.