This is the opening section of Chapter 27 – Staying in the River…
Journeying in community is important. We all live in
networks of overlapping and intersecting communities.
The most important members of my community are the
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are the perfect model
for community, and they invite us to participate in Their
shared life. Connection with the Divine Community is the
cornerstone of the edifice of our lives.
Even though our team tries to live a life of prayer, I make
a special effort to take some time away every so often to cut
out all distractions and focus exclusively on my relationship
with God. These spiritual retreats have been part of my regular
practice for years now. About six months ago I took a four day
spiritual retreat. It had been about a year since my last one, and
I was feeling a bit dark as it had been too long between retreats.
I wasn’t involved in any nefarious sin, but I was feeling
more and more stressed and heavy. The best word I can think
of is “dark,” as if I was living under a cloud. I tried fighting it
spiritually and found some relief, but not what I have learned
to expect. I tried reaching out for help from mentors, and even
contacted a trusted friend to see if he would act as a soul friend
for this season. No one was available and I was now starting to
feel ever more burdened and alone. Isolation, even if it is more
perceived than real, is a killer.
I scheduled some time away. Sarah and the kids were gracious
to give me the time and eager for me to get out from under this
On my retreat, I asked the Lord to show me what was wrong.
I used familiar wholeness prayer methods and He graciously
drew my attention to previous wounds and long-forgotten
memories. But when I asked Him to meet me in the memories,
He did not respond. It was as if He just went silent. As I pressed
on in prayer, He brought another memory, or another person to
forgive. Each time, I took notes and worked through forgiveness,
asking Him to redeem the memories or heal the wounds, but
nothing happened. To be honest, I was pretty frustrated.
I went to bed irritated that first night and woke up the next
morning with these words in my head: “Despite all my rage I
am still just a rat in a cage.” I did not immediately recognize the
words but a quick web search found they came from a song from
the Smashing Pumpkins: Bullet with Butterfly Wings. I looked
up the song on YouTube and prayerfully watched the video,
listening to the words. The first words arrested my attention.
Billy Corgan, the lead singer, speaks these words before the
music even starts: “The world is a vampire…” The words I had
echoing in my head, “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in
a cage,” are the chorus.
As I sat with the Lord listening to Smashing Pumpkins and
wondering about what was happening in my soul, I felt as if
I was on the cusp of something significant. I couldn’t put my
finger on what, exactly, it was – but it felt familiar.