“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my soul.” – Rumi
In the first half of my life, I was never one to recognize the meaning of metaphors. This is partially why I did not excel in literature classes. I tried very hard to read the words in the books we were assigned, but then I’d sit in class and struggle to grasp all the underlying meanings that my classmates discussed with our teachers. As I grew into adulthood and work life, I read pragmatically to learn how to solve problems. I explained this in more detail in yesterday’s Day 51 post.
Religious and spiritual books are full of metaphor. There’s has always been a part of me that was spiritually curious, and as such, I have always been a seeker. I mentioned yesterday that I spent an entire year reading the Bible all the way through. I confess that my ego was proud to say I had read the entire Bible. That felt like an accomplishment. However, like the literature books in high school and college my reading was very literal and to say I was confused through much of the reading is an understatement. The metaphors did not reach me.
The purpose of metaphor is to help us understand something unknown, by comparing it to something known. If I explain to a friend that I had to “fight” my way through a difficult day, I used metaphor to dramatize how I felt. I didn’t actually throw punches or use weapons against another. This one is pretty obvious, even to me. Spiritual metaphors aren’t so clear and are cause for discord between those who read the stories literally and those who see them as metaphor. Heading into the second half of my life, I have slowly begun to appreciate metaphor more than before.
One such metaphor takes place at the Wedding in Cana, written in the Bible, John 2:1-12. In this story, Jesus attends a wedding with his mother and his disciples. This is the story where he performs his first miracle of turning water into wine. When the wine runs out at the celebration, Jesus instructs the servants to fill six stone washing jars with water. Then he instructs them to bring the water to the man in charge of the feast and as they do the water becomes wine. Of course, this wine is much better than the wine that had previously run out. What is the purpose of this story? Did this really happen or is it a metaphor?
I’m currently participating in a spiritual mastermind group led by Robert Holden, Ph.D. Early in our time together, Robert explained this story to us in such a way that I don’t think my pragmatic mind would have discovered on its own. He shared with us that the Wedding in Cana was a story of spiritual conversion, a metanoia. (The name of our mastermind is Metanoia.) He tells us that the transformation is, “a holy shift from believing you are an ego in a body, to realizing you are a soul in the universe.” This transformation happens in three stages beginning with stone, then water, then water to wine. The stone jars represent the first level of the transformation, which deals with the intellect and knowledge gained from reading books. Next is the level of water which is about the heart where we begin to feel the words we learned at the intellectual level. The third is water into wine when we recognize that all that we seek is already inside of us, as our soul or spirit.
In my one-year project of reading the Bible more than ten years ago, I certainly didn’t pick up this metaphor. It took the guidance of a teacher to see it. If you read my post from yesterday, you will understand that Robert, in the spirit of Jerry McGuire, had me at stone. I’ve been learning from books my entire adult life. But metanoia, Robert is teaching me, is about oneness of mind, heart and soul. He inspired me to start this blog, and in the process, I’m learning how to move through the other levels, water and water into wine, along the path of personal mastery.