Adult Ed (Sunday School) starts Sunday, September 11 at 9:30am.
Come on over to the parish hall for a cup of coffee and some discussion around a video series titled Gifts of the Dark Wood. While the dark times in life can be scary and frustrating, they can also be the times when we experience growth and positive change. This week’s title is The Gift of Uncertainty.
Read Jenneffer Sixkiller’s article on the Adult Ed series from the Fall 2016 edition of Topics:
By nature, I am a wanderer. In fact, my mother has been calling me her “Wandering Jew” since I was a teenager. Love for both exploration and travel mark a deep space in my identity. Part of accepting this gift, though, implies a large measure of uncertainty, and the ability to trust—but what? And in whom?
Trinity’s Adult Education series this fall explores Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics (and Other Wanderers), (hey, that’s me!) a book and video series by Eric Elnes, who was thunderstruck by the idea when he read about it in Dante’s Inferno. What images come to mind when you think of a dark wood? Getting lost? I grew up in big sky country, where I was accustomed to using the sun’s position to help guide me in unfamiliar territory, but not in the dark woods. No direction or visible path sounds pretty scary.
If you’ve ever been hiking and taken a wrong turn, you often don’t even realize the mistake until several miles later. You might not have enough water. You might get hungry. You might miss the next activity on your schedule. You might even be afraid. Will you find your way back? Did you tell anyone where you were headed?
But to turn the idea around: Why are we so afraid of getting lost? Why do we have a need to be in control, to be right?
Our culture is filled with devices, entertainment, stuff, and work to keep us busy. There is a constant push to keep doing, keep achieving, keep acquiring. None of this settles well with me, however; I am a soulful skeptic. I have experienced profound peace when I slow down. I feel freedom when I can let go of my need to be in control. Somehow, though, these moments are fleeting. My ego and spirit seem to be in constant competition.
Elnes explores what he calls the “Seven Blessings”—things that, in fact, don’t seem like gifts at all. Is getting lost a gift? What about uncertainty? Temptation? These serve as powerful reminders of how Jesus never called us to follow him while bringing the GPS device. He doesn’t want or need us to have it all figured out. It is during these periods that we have the opportunity for our biggest spiritual growth. Like the lost hiker, we wanderers have options: backtrack until something looks familiar, panic, or accept and explore.
In an age where prosperity is the poster child for Christianity, the perspective Elnes offers us is both comforting and refreshing. If I am honest, there is a lot of darkness in the soul; every day does not always feel like a blessing.
But, that doesn’t mean I am a failure, just a mere human soulful skeptic. Or somebody who doesn’t mind exploring these dark woods.