Liturgy As Individual Spiritual Practice of Embodiment - Part 1

Essay by Rev. Dr. Kevin G. Thew Forrester on 20 December 2018 4 Comments

In my last column, “Terrifying and Terrible Texts: Knowing the Difference between Study and Liturgy,” I offered a basic and broad and personal vision of liturgy as “essentially a spiritual practice wherein we gather together to experience becoming embodiments of Being in the present moment.” We gather as unique personal jewels of Life. This vision begins my response to Bishop Spong’s query in Unbelievable: can Christian liturgies be made to reflect “reality rather than nostalgia.” Let me now develop this further in three ways: liturgy as personal spiritual practice of the individual; a reformed liturgical church year; and examples of eucharistic prayers (personal practice in a communal context) informed by this new vision of liturgy. This column will focus on liturgy as personal spiritual practice of the individual, which is the foundation for the subsequent essay on church year and eucharistic prayers.

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Question

 
My name is Heather, I was born into a family that, at the time, was a MO Synod Lutheran (my father was an ordained minister and my mother was a K-5th grade teacher and was also very active with the church; whose father was a minister that also was a missionary in Brazil, was in a concentration camp for two years. We, as a family dealt with a lot of issues behind the scenes. A LOT BEHIND THE SCENES!!!


I have dreams at night about both my parents coming to life but they are dead in the dreams; it is their corpses that I encounter and I am not afraid of them. I am afraid for them. I know that this is unusual, yet my mind cannot wrap itself around IT. Please, if in any way, that I could have your perspective on this, I would be most grateful.

Answer

 
Dear Heather,
 
You are dreaming powerful images that bear potent messages for you.  Thank you for bringing your curiosity and willingness to better understand some of the wisdom your dreams are trying to impart.  Within these dreams, I suspect, there are multiple meanings.  The late and respected dream scholar, Rev. Jeremy Taylor, used to begin all of his dream exploration like this,
 
“It is my assumption that all dreams come in the service of health and wholeness and that only the dreamer knows for certain what his/her dream means.”
 
To provide you, Heather, with tools and support for interpreting the gifts “hidden” in these dreams, I enthusiastically suggest that you join a dreamwork group and/or, if you don’t already have one, find a spiritual director to meet with on a regular basis.
 
There are a number of formats and techniques used in dreamwork.  To discern the best one for you, and to ensure that the process will feel safe, caring and ethically-grounded, the guidelines offered by the International Study of Dreams are helpful.  Similarly, not all spiritual directors are trained or feel skillful in dreamwork, but meeting regularly with one who witnesses and accompanies us in our spiritual journey provides an intentional and productive space for us to ask questions, wrestle, grieve or celebrate our evolving relationship with God/Divinity, as we perceive it.
 
That you are recalling the details of your dreamlife so vividly speaks to the important role dreams play in your deepening spirituality.  You are in good company!  Consider the men and women who, in so many sacred texts, call upon the wisdom given to them in the hours their conscious minds were at rest.  May you move forward with good heart and courage, Heather. Blessings upon you and your dreams!
 
~ Lauren Van Ham

 

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