An Interlude on Faith Development

The following essay was stimulated by a concept from Ken Wilber that I came across in one of his books, though I can’t recall which!

Part One

You awaken in a recliner.  As the fog clears from your fuzzy mind your eyes focus on the ceiling high above you. Fluorescent lights form a grid across the expanse some 15 feet overhead.  You lean forward in the recliner and take in the scene.  You are in a warehouse.  There’s furniture scattered all around you.

You begin to wander (wonder?) among the chairs and tables and desks.  There’s a old twin bed over there.  You see a television against one wall.  There’s a cool stereo system next to a refrigerator.  Your shoes clack on the old hardwood floors.  Your steps create a slight echo as the sound bounces off the brick walls..  Your attention is drawn to the sunlight streaming through narrow windows that run along the top of the walls.

You notice the bed stand not too far from the bed, so you begin to push it closer.  You’re not sure why, but it just seems like you ought to go ahead and move that bed stand next to the bed.  “That lamp over there would look nice on the bed stand,” you think.

As the sun is setting you’ve created a very cozy sitting area over in one corner.  There’s an old leather couch that matches the recliner.  They are now arranged with the TV and stereo, and a couple of end tables.  The ice tea you found in the fridge has filled a glass that sits on the coffee table.  And there’s a can of mixed nuts you came across in that old, free standing pantry.  You settle in to watch a documentary on the evolution of rock and roll in America.  You think, “Tomorrow I’m going to push all the kitchen stuff over there where the light was bright earlier.”

You spend day after day of creative energy moving all of this interesting furniture around on this interesting warehouse floor.  You smile when you come across a stash of artwork.  There’s a funky, colorful print that’s sort of Picasso-ish.  You come across three large Ansel Adams posters set in large black frames.  And there’s that detail from the Sistine chapel… the one that always makes you think, “Pull my finger.”  You feel a tinge of sacrilegious guilt, but you’re smiling.  As the art goes up on the walls, and the various ceramic pieces are placed on tables where they can be properly admired, your sense of completion begins to take hold.

You’ve taken great delight in moving, organizing, and reorganizing your floor.  You’re office is over by that one bay window.  The bedroom is over in that corner that receives the least light.  The kitchen has shifted around the space, and now seems perfect right in the middle of the room (“Just how does the water and sink manage to function properly wherever I move the kitchen? I guess I’ll just let it be magic until I have time to figure it out…”)

As you step out from a long, hot shower you survey your floor and think, “I do believe I’ve got it just how I want it.”  You put on warm pajamas and settle back in the that recliner.  A favorite old movie is starting.  You doze off with a great sense of contentment.

Part Two

You awaken with a start.  An odd tingle of anxiety is gnawing at you.  You rise from that friendly recliner and take in your space – your well organized, satisfying space.  You begin to wander (wonder?) around the warehouse floor as you’ve done countless times, only this time you feel pushed…. You feel pushed along by some odd mix of anxiety and curiosity.  You don’t know what you’re looking for.  You just know you are supposed to be looking.

You glance at the space you left behind the bookcases.  “Is that..?  I believe it is… an elevator door?”  The shiny silver door seems so out of place. “How did I not see that before?”  There’s one single button: a circle; with an arrow; pointing up.

You press the button.  The door slides open. You step on.  The door slides shut, and you feel that subtle pull that let’s you know you are rising. “It never occurred to me that this warehouse had another floor.”  The door opens.  And you immediately take in the scene.  There’s furniture scattered all over the floor.  You step out.  Off to your left is a recliner.  Its different from your recliner, but it looks comfortable.  To right is a coffee table, and you think, “That coffee table needs to be over there next to that recliner.”

Part Three

“Let me think… is this my fourth floor or my fifth floor?”  You’re breaking a sweat as you shove that huge, oak armoire across the slick wood floor so it can sit next to the king size bed with the iron frame.  “This is the first time I’ve had a king size bed.”
“Where did I see that funky reading lamp?”
“I wonder how many floors are in this….”

Wait….

“How many floors…?”
“I wonder why THAT question never occurred to me before?”

An Alternate Part Two

You awaken with a start.  An odd tingle of anxiety is gnawing at you.  You rise from that friendly recliner and take in your space – your well organized, satisfying space.  You begin to wander (wonder?) around the warehouse floor as you’ve done countless times, only this time you feel pushed…. You feel pushed along by some odd mix of anxiety and curiosity.  You don’t know what you’re looking for.  You just know you are supposed to be looking.

You glance at the space you left behind the bookcases.  “Is that..?  I believe it is… an elevator door?”  The shiny silver door seems so out of place. “How did I not see that before?”  There’s one single button: a circle; with an arrow; pointing up.

You press the button.  The door slides open. You step on.  The door slides shut, and you feel that subtle pull that let’s you know you are rising. “It never occurred to me that this warehouse had another floor.”  The door opens.  And you immediately take in the scene.  There’s furniture scattered all over the floor.  You step out.  Off to your left is a recliner.
Suddenly you begin to sweat.  Your heart is racing.  Your ears are ringing.

You take two steps back.  You’re again standing in the elevator.  You look frantically to the left of the door, “Yes… a down button… a down button… push the down button…”

Your heart slows as you feel the descent.  The door opens and you race out of the elevator and straight to your recliner.  You click on the TV with the remote.  Your favorite team is playing.  Good… your favorite team…  You pull the quilt over you and snuggle deeply into the recliner, as though it were a womb.  An odd fragment of Gaelic poetry drifts though your mind as conscious fades.

Deep is the sleep of the dead;
…..low their pillow of dust.
……….No more shall he hear thy voice;
……………no more shall he awake at thy call.

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About Wes Eades

I've been a pastoral counselor, marital therapist, and overall listening ear since about 1989 or so.
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