Monday, August 19, 2013

Physical acts of inward change

I have heard all my life that if you want to really change something in this world you have to start with yourself. This have become so true in every possible situation I can imagine. 

Recently, Joel and I had a friend over who has been practicing numerology. Just out of interest and in the name of daily practices, she wanted to pull a medicine card from our animal totem deck. She drew a butterfly right away. It is not going to come as a shock that butterflies are symbolic for transformation. However, she noted the number on the card and it was a 9. I have neglected the numbers on the cards as just corresponding chapters for the book that the cards came with but after this conversation, now I am sure there is much more intentionality behind the number choices. 

She looked at the number 9 and just smiled. She said that a 9 in numerology is also a symbol for transformation. When you write a number 9 you start in the inside and then work your way to the outside. The same thing goes for a butterfly. They are born as caterpillars and in order to transform into something beautiful that flies (instead of crawls) they have to go inside a cocoon in order to be transformed on the outside.

This got me thinking about personal growth and transformation. The reason why this faith journey, this soul journey, the pilgrimage of this spiritual experience on earth is so very important is because transformation starts in the heart of it all, inside you, in your own mind. That transformation makes its way to the outside of your mind. People see it in your eyes, on your person, in your countenance and glow. From that place it becomes something that touches other people and seeps into their personal journeys and experiences...

Our pastor spoke at staff meeting on the same day that our friend showed up and drew the butterfly card. He was talking about transformation. He explained that when people welcome others, care for others, serve others, love others well these are actually physical expressions of an inward change. It is hard to tell when someone's mind has changed. It is hard to tell when someone's heart has shifted in some way. The way we have come to know a person's true heart is by their actions. 

I have always told my kids at church that the best way to judge as situation or a relationship is to look at the fruit that it creates. The physical acts are a reflection of the internal existence. When those acts breed negativity and pain then most likely something inside is not balanced and vise-verse.

When you go about your day, how have your physical acts possibly reflected on your inward life? 

Often times it takes physical acts to help our communities understand that an inward change has taken place. This makes me think of baptism. When people become baptized as an adult they are giving us a physical expression of an inward transformation that has taken place. The same thing goes for marriage. The reason we have wedding ceremonies is so that the community can become part of an inward transformation that has happened between two people and God.

If you think about it, all of creation that becomes life giving and beautiful has to first be in a season of "inside" before that life and beauty can move "outside." Think about seeds turn into flowers or fruit baring trees. All of life must first be in an egg, pod, uterus, pouch before it can step out into a new and transformed state. Even when we are full grown it is good to remember that we can daily and are daily reborn and recreated inside.

I have seen butterflies all weekend. I sat on the porch at my in-laws yesterday listening to the pouring rain. To my surprise I saw two huge butterflies dancing through the pelting drops. It made me wonder if I am tapping into butterfly medicine this week. Am I in a cocoon about to burst forth a changed human being yet again? What about you?