HALF WAY ACROSS THE BRIDGE
This month, we are exploring how to manage the gap between the incubation of our God-Inspired Aspirations and Divinely-Directed Dreams and the actual tangible fruition of them.
Because last Sunday, today and next Sunday are all about building -- actually revealing -- the bridge over that gap, I am going to begin this Sunday where we left off last, bridging the gap (so to speak!) between our two weeks.
Last Sunday, I shared a couple of passages from The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream. It was written in the late 80's by a Brazilian author, and it is about a shepherd boy who has a dream, a really big dream, which he reluctantly decides to pursue. And in that pursuit, he definitely has to bridge a gap - not just a gap, a chasm!
So, I ended last Sunday's talk with a passage in which the young shepherd has finally met the "The Alchemist," someone he's been looking for throughout the book because he believes the alchemist will have the answers to how he can find his dream, and they are having a conversation.
The boy is trying to decide if he should continue going after his dream. At that point, it's looking pretty impossible and it has gotten difficult - anyone ever felt that way?!!
Here's the passage we ended on last week:
"'My heart is afraid it will have to suffer,' the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up to the moonless sky.
"'Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity.'
"'Every second of the search is an encounter with God,' the boy told his heart. 'When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I've known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I've discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve.'"a
And I want to read on a bit now from that place, because it will take us to our work today. I thought about providing milk and cookies for the "story time" portion of today's message, but I didn't want you all to take a nap after it, so I decided against it!
Here we go . . .
"So his heart was quiet for an entire afternoon. That night, the boy slept deeply, and, when he awoke, his heart began to tell him things that came from the Soul of the World. [Those who were with us last week, what would we say this is? Intuition, of course. And do you remember what we called intuition? Yes, "The Voice that Loves Me" So again . . .] That night, the boy slept deeply, and, when he awoke, his heart began to tell him things that came from the Soul of the World. It said that all people who are happy have God within them. [I would simply edit that to say that "all people who are happy KNOW they have God within them."] And that happiness could be found in a grain of sand from the desert, . . . because a grain of sand is a moment of creation . . .
"'Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,' his heart said. 'We, people's hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them - the path to their Personal Legends [that's the author's term for God-Inspired Aspirations and Divinely-Directed Dreams], and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.
"'So, we, their hearts speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won't be heard; we don't want people to suffer because they don't follow their hearts.'
"'Why don't people's hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?' the boy asked the alchemist?
"'Because that's what makes a heart suffer most, and hearts don't like to suffer.'
"From then on, the boy understood his heart. He asked it, please, never to stop speaking to him. He asked that, when he wandered far from his dream, his heart press him and sound the alarm. The boy swore that, every time he heard the alarm, he would heed its message.
"That night he told all of this to the alchemist. And the alchemist understood that the boy's heart had returned to the Soul of the World.
"'So what should I do now?' the boy asked."b
And that is where we will leave the story for today, picking up there next week. Today, we will mine some of the gold contained in what I read.
THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE PROBLEM
Last week we looked at two spiritual tools to keep the bridge revealing itself at least two steps ahead of us:
One was cultivating the Open Moment, which means to open the tiniest crack in the wall that stands between, 'I can't have this dream and here are all the reasons why,' and the actual experience of the dream by believing that it actually just might be possible, because with God, all things are possible. Say that with me, will you:
"With God, all things are possible."
And now have your God-Inspired Aspiration and Divinely-Directed Dream in mind and say:
"With God, this is possible!"
And the second spiritual tool of last week was to listen to our Intuition - "The Voice that Loves Us" knowing that it will never steer us wrong! This is the voice of the heart that The Alchemist is talking about.
These tools take you partially across the bridge, but it still may feel like you are hanging out in the gap! That's how the little shepherd boy felt in the passage I just read. I do understand that that can be scary and even discouraging.
One of the reasons - perhaps - that you haven't scurried fully across the bridge to the other side (like Indiana Jones did in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade") is that you see a big ol' problem, an obstacle, an obstruction, in front of you and you don't know how to go around, under or through it, so there you hang in the gap, stuck. Can anyone relate that to a situation in their life right now?
Here is our spiritual tool for today: The realization that the problem is NEVER the problem! This is a concept we have discussed at length here, so I'm hoping you know the answer to this question:
If the problem is never the problem, then what is the problem? [Answer: The way I am thinking about the problem.]
So, problem, what problem? There isn't one, but our belief that there is one can absolutely keep us from successfully walking across the bridge to reach the achievement of our Personal Legend!
In Talks on Truth, Charles Fillmore wrote: "It does not require labored arguments or hard thinking to see how easily the problems of life would be made orderly and divine if men would let the Lord into their mind. Jesus said that the yoke was easy and the burden light. He was victor over all the hard conditions to which men and women think themselves yoked . . . . by annulling them and preaching boldly in the face of an adverse theology that it was the prerogative of the Son of man to blot these errors from the world of mankind."c
So the real issue for us, and today's spiritual tool for helping us reveal another leg of the bridge, is to see the problem in a completely different light. That is what the conversation the little boy had with the alchemist and what his heart told him!
And I want to share with you another story this morning, a story you are most likely familiar with, but one in which you may have missed a key, vital subtlety of the story.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (oh, sorry, wrong story!), the Israelites and the Philistines were fighting a war, a messy war. On a particular field of battle, there was a Philistine by the name of Goliath of Gath who was a giant among a bunch of really big guys!
Twice a day, at dawn and at dusk - Goliath would step out between the two armies and shout to the Israelites, "Let's do this war a different way! One of you step forward and fight me to the death, and the people of the man who loses will become the slaves of the people of the man who wins."
You know the story now, right? What happens in this story? David, a shepherd boy, with his slingshot slays the giant. Right. But it is so much richer than that!
Whenever Goliath would make his taunting offer, the Israelites scattered, running off into the hills, because no one wanted to fight this giant.
Now Jesse, had 4 sons, and the 3 eldest were soldiers. One day, he sent his youngest son, David to take some food to his brothers. He arrived at the front just in time to hear one of Goliath's rants and when the terrified soldiers ran away, David ran with them.
Some time later, David is trying to find his scattered brothers and in this search he hears the details of what has been going on.
He learns that at least twice a day, for 40 days, Goliath has been making this proposition. Let's pause the story for a moment. What is significant about this? 40 days - 40, symbolically all the time it takes for transformation. Back to the story.
King Saul really wants this war to be over, so to encourage one of his soldiers to step up, he sweetens the pot. He makes it very sweet indeed.
He promises that whatever soldier will fight Goliath (and obviously win!) not only will he receive great riches, not only will he nor anyone in his family ever be taxed again, but the real deal sweetener is he will get the hand of the king's daughter, the Princess, in marriage.
Now David thinks this all sounds pretty good and so when he finally finds his brothers, he talks to them about this and how he might like to go for it. Not only would he save the Israelites, but what a deal for him. Pretty sweet!
Their reaction was, as we might expect, "Are you crazy? Have you seen the size of that guy? And you, just a scrawny shepherd! You're not even a soldier."
And there is it, thinking the problem is the problem. And, granted it looks big and very, very scary. And very much like a problem with the consequences for losing pretty severe!
So you have a dream and you've taken your leap of faith and stepped out and then you've walked somewhat across the bridge by cultivating the Open Moment and by listening to the Voice that Loves You and now here you are, faced with Goliath!
What do you do? Quick run back to the safe side?! Well you could. But that is "what makes a heart suffer most, and hearts don't like to suffer" we learn in The Alchemist.
Remember -- everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him, but we have to go get it! We have to bridge the gap to experience it!
So, we can take a clue from David and change our perception of the problem. The problem is not the problem, in fact, it isn't even an obstacle. Instead it is the WAY to our dreams. Were it not for Goliath, David would not have this opportunity.
So, he turned his entire attention away from Goliath and onto the dream - riches, no taxes, the princess. In other words, he focused on his vision, his intention, his dream, not on what was standing in front of him.
This is our work as we stand midway on the bridge. We must keep our eye on the prize so to speak!
Fortified with his dream in his heart and his mind, he pressed forward, listened to his intuition not to put on all the armor the king wanted him to wear, picked up five smooth stones, put one in his sling, and with one perfect shot, felled the giant. The obstacle removed, the way cleared!d
Now everyone in that camp had the same opportunity, but as we learned in The Alchemist: "' . . . very few follow the path laid out for them - the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place."
But not you, and you and you and you. You are willing to walk across the bridge and you are willing to face whatever may seem like a problem, an obstacle, and perceive it differently. It is, in fact the way to your God-Inspired Aspirations and Divinely-Directed Dreams.
Are you ready my friends to continue the journey? Today we have had two shepherd boys give us the same message. To dive deep into your internal resources, to know that God is with you, to see the problem not as a problem, not as an obstacle, but rather as the way to your dream. And to keep your attention, your focus, on the dream.
And once again, remember, as the alchemist told the little boy, every second of the journey is an encounter with God.
aPaulo Coelho The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream
bPaulo Coelho The Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream
cTalks on Truth, Charles Fillmore p. 25
d1 Samuel 17