For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21
Once I had a dream about being lost. I had wandered into a dense forest, and I could not find my way out again. There was nowhere to rest, and trees loomed all around me, hemming me in, blocking my view. There were no mountains by which to orient myself, no paths or streams to follow. Nothing felt restful or safe. As I pressed on, directionless, I grew more and more tired and despondent. This place was alien and spooky, and I did not know how to get away.
After I had wandered around for what seemed in the dream like an interminable time, I heard something way in the distance. It was a thin sound, barely audible, and at first I wasn’t even sure I had really heard it. I had to take a breath and hold it, and then listen for all I was worth.
Then it sounded clearer, and it went straight into my heart like a knife. It was music, and it was exquisite. I did not know the instrument that played it, nor did I recognize the tune, but it was heart-breaking in its beauty. And the tune was mine in some strange way I couldn’t put my finger on..
I listened hard, believe me. And I began to be able to tell in which direction the music was coming from. Without even questioning, I began to follow it. In the dream I would take a wrong turn and the music would grow fainter. Then I’d turn in a different direction and it would grow strong again. And so I made my way through the almost impenetrable forest, listening to the music that seemed to belong to me.
Eventually I came to a city. The streets were lined with cheering people. Even though I had never been there before, I recognized it as my home. It was the place where I belonged, and everyone was celebrating my coming.
The above prayer from Ephesians reminds me of this dream. Coming to that place of understanding – of the breadth and length and height and depth – of the knowledge of Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge – is coming home. When we know that Christ dwells in our hearts, when we are grounded and rooted in Christ’s love, we are at the place where we belong. Even if we have never been here before, we recognize it, and our spirits soar with joy.
Where do we hear the music that guides us to our inner city? Sometimes a good sermon can be that music. Listening, we hear the refrain that leads us through the maddening and disorienting forest. A book by a visionary author can be that music, as can scripture, a prophetic talk, or a discussion with friends in spiritual community. Prayer helps. So does doing the work that brings relief and understanding to the marginalized. Giving up what keeps us bound, whether it is outmoded ideas or personal possessions, can free us to listen and follow.
Being strengthened in our inner beings with power through God’s spirit; being rooted and grounded in love; being able to comprehend, with all the saints, the breadth, the length, the height and the depth, being able to know Christ’s unknowable love, and being filled with all the fullness of God – I can’t think of any language that is better in describing the profound nurture of being in relationship with the Holy. May we all find the music that guides us through the forest. May we all come home.
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries With others she manages a website for the Diocese of Colorado highlighting congregations’ creative ministries: Fresh Expressions Colorado