When the direction of a life is different from the deep needs and desires of the Soul, a state of debilitating paralysis can set in. Such was the case for a woman I knew who got married very young and subsequently found herself saddled with small children and unable to realize her longing to be a writer. She gradually sank into a state of apathy and couldn’t for the life of her get up the gumption to do even the smallest tasks. At the insistence of her husband she came to me for help.
I was a Jungian psychotherapist in those days, and I asked her to remember her dreams. She couldn’t see the point in this, and so for the longest time she didn’t do it. Instead she would talk to me week after week about how she was such a wicked person because she wasn’t caring for her family. Not only that, but though she loved her children and her husband deeply, she would rage at them for the littlest things.
Finally a dream came to her that was so strong she couldn’t ignore it. She was in a bleak landscape of ice and snow. There was no warmth or color anywhere, and she was so cold that she was numb. Knowing there was something she had lost but unable to remember what it was, she ran about like a frightened rabbit. Then a voice told her, “you have to go down.” The world seemed to crack apart and she was suddenly in an underground library where a friendly man, the librarian, asked how he could help her.
Over subsequent weeks she and I returned in guided imagery to the underground library of her dream. The helpful librarian in various guises was eventually able to give the woman what she needed to free her from all the presumptions and self-judgments that kept her from writing. And as it turned out her husband was also more than willing to be of help. He took on housework and child care in more of an equal partnership and aided her in carving out the necessary space and time so she could honor her call to her art. The paralysis ended. “I am not evil,” she told me finally. “I was just very very frustrated.”
That within us which is paralyzed longs for the wisdom of the Teacher who resides at the center of our Soul. How do we dig down through the roof and lower ourselves until we are resting at his feet? How do we open ourselves to his quiet assertion, “Your sins are forgiven?” How do we believe that, really, we were never evil? How do we begin to become what we were always meant to be?
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image from Codex Egberti, (public domain via wikimedia commons)