Last fall I participated with great delight in Melanie Weidner’s Kickstarter campaign to publish her art work in two decks of cards, 40 each. I bought both decks because I didn’t want to miss any of my favorites! Melanie has used her art, which arises out of her own process of finding Sacred Presence in all that life brings her way, for spiritual direction workshops, with individuals as well as in preaching and teaching. What a joy to help her art escape into the world for God to use in new ways with people who will never meet her in person.
The cards arrived before Christmas, and I started figuring out how to use them for myself. I drew a few over a couple of weeks and was surprised to find one card (out of 80, remember) appearing several times. The first time my worship group met in January, we each drew a card as a message for the year. Darned if I didn’t draw the Passage card, the one already showing up. Suddenly I was scared. “OK God, what are you saying that I’m not hearing?”
As we moved into our opening 20 minutes of silence, I held the image on the card (used in this post with permission from Melanie at ListenForJoy.com). A series of doors disappearing into infinity, Passage issues an invitation to step across the next threshold. As I stayed with the image in the silence, I walked up to the opening in my mind’s eye. I grabbed each side of the doorway and imagined pulling myself through. As soon as I was through the door, I moved to the left and plastered my back against the wall. When the timer rang, my heart was still pounding in fear. But I crossed the threshold.
I began a daily practice of drawing a card and writing about it in my morning pages (three pages of freewriting). When I started drawing another card repeatedly (I pulled the “Yes, Chicken!” eight times in twenty days, which I suspect is not statistically likely to happen often!), I began recording what I drew each day to follow the threads.
Passage showed up again at the beginning of the summer. In booklets included with each deck, Melanie offers a possible invitation the art is issuing, as well as what living out that invitation might look like in balance or out of balance. This time the invitation “To move through whatever comes and welcome each new threshold as our next adventure” spoke loudly to me. And sure enough, we began experiencing things we hadn’t planned but had to deal with. I practiced accepting what came and welcoming it—while noting the more native response to dramatically complain about this new hardship and refusing to go there.
We found raccoons denning in the chimney right before going away for a week. Squirrels chewed through the gas line on Jim’s truck twice, a few weeks apart. A woodworking slip requiring stitches sent us to Urgi-Care at the end of a day. We found a barred owl tangled in fishing line on our morning walk, managed to capture it and get it to the zoo where they removed the hook; we returned it to the same spot and released it before noon. There were bigger things to welcome and move through as well, like a 40th wedding anniversary and all the preparations for a party, and a week later my sister-in-law’s wedding.
Shortly after the wedding in early August I drew the Passage card yet again. Every time I look at the picture, I see things I’ve missed before. The words striking me this time were the signs of being out of balance: “Resisting movement, decisions or expansion out of fear of the unknown. Camping out in just one place. Refusing to budge.” These are dangers I could easily step into right now, the card warned, if I don’t pay attention. We all have habits of moving through our days that cease to serve our deepest life purpose; some likely get in the way of it actively. So I starting observing my day and my habitual thoughts and asking what it might look like to do or respond differently than I always have.
Passage showed up a week or so later, as I perceived myself to be making some changes and was tempted to disparage my efforts as obviously not good enough because I wasn’t seeing “results.” The invitation this time was “To adjust our expectations for arrival,” to resist my lifelong tendency to project an image of what getting there “should” look like and judging myself for not living up to the image. Instead I welcomed “what is” and kept doing what I could to turn my face Godward, to see the age-old temptations, acknowledge them, and actively choose not to go with them.
Yes, I think anyone on a spiritual journey will benefit from these cards. I’m sure there are many more ways to use them than I’ve even imagined. The big benefit I’ve found in using them is the big boost in paying attention. Like being in spiritual direction or an intentional spiritual friendship or a worship group, etc, the cards help me see the Sacred Presence in many places I would miss it left to my own devices. All these things help bring what is unconscious into consciousness where we begin to have new choices in our lives.
Go to ListenForJoy.com. And may you be as blessed by Melanie’s offerings as I and my friends have been!