St Francis when searching for his vocation is reputed to have knelt in front of a cross that bore a Jesus figure that seems surprisingly not to be suffering. He prayed a beautiful prayer. The prayer in English is simple and beautiful “Most high glorious God, cast your light into the darkness of my heart. Give me faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility with wisdom and perception, O lord so that I may do what is truly your holy will.” In response he believes that Jesus spoke the words, “Restore my church” This may have perplexed him but what he took from the message was to descend the hill from Assisi to a crumbling church and start to rebuild it stone by stone. This church became known as St Damiano and is one of simpler, plainer churches around Assisi.
Of course today we might describe Francis as having engaged in active imagination. Robert Johnson, in his wonderful book Inner Work, defines active imagination as a dialogue that you enter into with different parts of yourself that live in the unconscious. Recently I visited the church in Assisi where this crucifix stands. Feeling somewhat conspicuous I found myself kneeling at the same cross and beginning my own dialogue. Jesus to me has become representative of the Khristós or higher self. So as I entered my dialogue with the figure of the cross I asked what was required of me “You asked him to rebuild your church, so what about me? What do you have for me to do?” The words I heard in my head were ‘Shine Your Light.” I got up and walked slowly out of the church. The dissenting voices of the critic in my head gradually replaced the magic of the moment. “Who do you think you are anyway? That’s just the voice of your personality trying to maintain your status quo. That is way to easy for a narcissist like you. Look what St Francis did – he gave up everything even his clothes. What exactly are you going to do?” By the time I got back to my room I was feeling perplexed. Did I just have a meaningful experience or was it purely a fabrication to make me feel better about my comfortable life? Then a moment of pure magic occurred. A fellow pilgrim Gudrun approached me as I was placing the key in the door of my room. “I just have to tell you something” she began, “ You are such a shining light.” It seemed such an amazing synchronicity. It reminded me to focus on what fulfilling that simple admonition “Shine your light” may mean.
During the next two weeks I focused each morning in my meditation on understanding what this guidance could mean. What followed were three wonderful insights each of which became affirmed by an event in my outer circumstances.
First I wondered if perhaps I should make a renewed commitment to writing my blog Soul Clarity. After an enthusiastic start last spring, my fervour had dwindled to infrequent activity. As I reflected on that idea the universe stepped in to re-enforce me. I received an e-mail from someone I did not know: “I’m devouring this blog, Trevor. Your words are inspiring the flow of my life just by feeling them. Thank you!”
The second insight concerned being fully present with people in person and on the phone. I have this habit; particularly with people I am not close to, of drifting off and not being fully present. Almost immediately the universe gave me an opportunity. I was staying with my sister in Devon who inadvertently gone out forgetting an appointment she had made for coffee with a friend. I found myself confronted by someone who was expecting my sister. To my surprise I found myself offering tea. As I waited for the water to boil I realized this would be a perfect opportunity to practice. The results were quite amazing and we engaged in a deep conversation about her current life challenges.
The third insight concerned my work as a spiritual coach. I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to focus and allow my light to shine. Almost like a tennis ball rebounding off a wall, the universe responded with an e-mail from someone asking me to work with them. My awe and amazement at the universe’s personal relationship with each of us continues to expand. Our role is to be truly conscious and focus intention and pay attention. Spirit takes care of the rest.