August 9, 2018
“If you’re stuck in the past, you go forward in reverse”
― Josh Stern, author
One of my teachers in Ireland often speaks of the “causeway.” Perplexed, and with a tour group in tow, I asked what he meant.
In times gone by, the approach from the road to a bridge was often land that was marshy and muddy. This is in sharp contrast to modern roads and bridges, which usually deliver us from dry pavement directly to the bridge and beyond.
The old causeways must have been difficult to negotiate. Picture yourself on a definite path, with a bridge ahead in clear focus. You know you will cross that bridge and travel on to your destination, but first you must figure out how to move through the mud.
It is my belief that many spiritual seekers get caught in the causeway. Whether the source is ancestral beliefs, dysfunctional family patterns, or society’s idea of who and what we should be, it’s easy to get stuck. The causeway can throw us off balance, sometimes forcing us to retreat back to safe ground, sometimes paralyzing us. With a clear picture that the bridge ahead will deliver us to our spiritual destinations, what will it take for you to move through the causeway?
One time, in a dream, I found myself trying to get from dry land to a house filled with friends from my earlier days in community theatre. The mud was wet and thick, and the area it covered would require a bit of planning. I was not wearing proper shoes for such an endeavor. Suddenly, one of my actor friends came out of the house and beckoned me over. I shouted, “I’m stuck in the mud!” He told me to move through it quickly, as that would be easier. I started to follow his advice only to get sucked in deeper. I stopped and looked down. The mud was now up to my knees. My friend called out, “You’d better not stop. It’s not mud you’re stuck in. It’s shit!” With that, I picked up my feet, swiftly disengaged from the stinky poo and landed gracefully on the other side.
Do you see the metaphor? When I’m stuck in the causeway, it’s because it’s a familiar place. I can see the dry land of safety behind me and the bridge of promise before me. Only I can make the decision to return or to move ahead. Remembering the dream, I remember that the poop is not my waste. It’s from somewhere else. I don’t belong there. When we realize that, it’s easy to take that leap of faith and move gracefully towards my destiny. Sometimes with the help of an anam cara, a friend of my soul.