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The Contract / A Visitation in the Well of Souls

 

The Contract

 

A Visitation in the Well of Souls

            

            What I am about to share with you is as true as it is unbelievable.  I can’t tell you how I know what I know, but only that I know it.  It’s as if memories of things long repressed have come back to me, or what has come back to me has come back to me in dreams, or in fragments of dreams assembled by my unconscious mind like jigsaw puzzle pieces to create a portrait of the nature of our being, the nature of our bittersweet reality in this life.  I know, I know, this may sound as absurd to you as it does to me, as if any of us can be expected to believe that a university professor can teach quantum physics and calculus to ground hogs.  Yet, that is what I am saying.  Not that exactly, but something like that.  Something mysterious, surreal, unexplainable, unbelievable, and true.  We are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Draw closer, listen closely, and please resist the temptation to think me insane.  Open your mind.  This is how it happens with each and every human soul, as the Creator of life, the Architect and Designer of everything, the Deity, comes to each of us, one by one, in the well of souls.  This is how it happened with me.  This is how it happened with you.  Come with me.  Be a fly on the wall of the well of souls.

             “I have a proposal for you,” said the Creator.  “I am preparing to offer you the gift of life.  These are my terms.  The gift of life includes within itself countless priceless gifts, including but not limited to innumerable opportunities to experience feelings that send you soaring to heavenly heights you can’t even imagine, feelings of joy, happiness, peace, serenity, hope, gratitude, excitement, satisfaction, contentment, fulfillment, adoration, awe, euphoria, ecstasy, compassion, affection, and love.”

            “Yes, yes!  I accept your terms!” shouted the tiny soul to whom the Creator was speaking.

“Not so fast little soul embryo,” said the Creator, “I haven’t finished spelling out my terms.  There is no fine print in the proposal I am making to you.  I am declaring everything to you straight out.   I will only accept your fully informed consent.  For you to be able to give me that, you will need some additional information.”

             “I’m so sorry!” said little soul embryo, “Please continue!  Your proposal sounds wonderful beyond description!”

            “Slow down little seedling-of-a-soul,” said the Creator. “The beautiful feelings that you are so desperately eager to experience are not the only feelings included in the gift of life that I am preparing to offer you.  There are other feelings that you will also have many occasions to experience, feelings that are anything but beautiful.  The gift of life includes within itself a multitude of occasions to experience feelings that can send you plummeting to depths of anguish that you also can’t imagine, and most certainly don’t want to imagine, including but not limited to feelings of sadness, sorrow, turmoil, anxiety, fear, panic, dread, frustration, boredom, emptiness, loneliness, confusion, deprivation, disillusionment, alienation, anger, rage, guilt, shame, self-contempt, self-loathing, self-condemnation, hopelessness and despair.”

            “No, no!  I don’t accept your terms!” declared little seedling-of-a-soul. “I only accept your original terms!  I don’t accept this second set of terms!”

            “Tiny bundle-of-soul-potential,” said the Creator, “this gift of life that I am offering to you is a package deal.  I can’t give you the gift of life, while limiting your experiences and feelings to only those that you might imagine enjoying, while excluding all unpleasantness, all experiences that might make you feel uncomfortable, all painful feelings that you may wish to avoid experiencing.”

            “Why?” asked tiny bundle-of-soul-potential. “You are God!  You are the Creator and Giver of life!  There is nothing impossible for you!  You can do anything you choose to do!  Why can’t you give me only that which is good and beautiful, and protect me from all that is bad and ugly?”

            “Little bundle-of-raw-material-for-a-soul,” said the Creator, “because that is not the nature of reality.  That is not the nature of life.  How would you develop strength without facing resistance?  Without resistance, adversity, struggle, your soul would surely atrophy and die of failure to thrive.  Without conscious access to a full spectrum of experiences and feelings, you would never be fully alive.  You would be nothing more than an anvil sinking to the bottom of the ocean, or a helium balloon, untethered, floating into the stratosphere to be lost in nothingness.  You would have no moral compass, no sense of direction, disoriented, utterly lost, with no way to find your way home.  What is joy without sorrow?  How would you even know that you were feeling joy except for the way in which the feeling of joy distinguishes itself from the feeling of sorrow?   Do you honestly believe that you would even feel joy as joy, if you were incapable of feeling sorrow?  A thing is only what it is in distinction from other things that are different from it.  The fabric of reality, of life itself, is weaved with countless distinct strands, all noticeably different from each other.  Life is variety, not sameness.  How would you possibly know if you were feeling happy, except that you also know what it is to feel sad?  How would you know if you were experiencing feelings of satisfaction, contentment, and gratitude, without also experiencing feelings of disappointment, frustration and deprivation?  How could you possibly feel feelings of peace and serenity and feel them as peace and serenity, without also experiencing feelings of turmoil, anxiety, fear, panic, or dread?  How would you know if you were feeling fulfilled, if you were incapable of feeling empty?   How would you know love, affection and attachment to another, if you were unable to experience feelings of loss, grief, loneliness or estrangement?   How would you even recognize the feeling of hope as hope, except that you have known what despair feels like?  How would you be able to see the light, except against the backdrop of darkness?  Just as colors are unrecognizable except for the ways in which they distinguish themselves, intermingle with, blend and contrast with other colors, singular feeling states would be unrecognizable as well.  Feelings only exist in the context of other feelings, each of them distinct from the other, each of them giving meaning to the other.  Life is variety, variety is life.  Everything else is mindless, meaningless, heartless, soulless, loveless, lifeless automation.  I am a living, thinking, feeling, loving God who desires relationships with the living beings that I create in my image.  I desire living, thinking, feeling beings with whom I can have loving relationships, and who can have loving relationships with each other.  I am not interested in the mass manufacture of lifeless machines that do only as they have been programmed.  With life comes the capacity to experience the heights of euphoria and ecstasy, and the depths of agony and despair, each of which gives context and meaning to the other.  Tiny soul-to-be, do you accept the terms of my proposal?”

            “I can say yes,” said tiny soul-to-be, “but what if I can’t do it?  What if I don’t have what it takes?”

            “No one, of their own accord, has what it takes, little soul DNA,” said the Creator.  “There is no one who has not been in breach of contract.  All have at some point fallen down, fallen short, turned away.  There is no one who has always kept all of my terms.  No, not one.  Just know this:  I am a loving, merciful, gracious God.  By my mercy and grace, you will have what it takes to live on my terms.  Just as I am installing within your flesh, as standard equipment, an immune system which will do much to defend you against bacteria, viruses and rogue cells which may threaten physical harm to you, I am installing within your psyche, as standard equipment, some potentially life-preserving psychological defenses to help you protect and defend yourself against painful experiences and feelings which you may at times experience as painful beyond your ability to bear.  I am giving you the capacity to repress memories of traumatic experiences, to bury them as if they didn’t even happen; and to suppress the excruciatingly painful feelings stemming from these traumatic experiences, to push them into the back of your mind so they won’t have the power to overwhelm you.  I am giving you the capacity to compartmentalize what you cannot yet bear to face, to place unbearable experiences and emotions in quarantine and isolate them from the rest of your daily life so they won’t have the power to engulf you.  I am giving you the ability to intellectualize and rationalize your traumatic injuries and the painful emotions stemming from them, to conduct the mental gymnastics necessary to neutralize your painful emotions when they threaten to break you.  I am giving you the creative and imaginative ability to dissociate yourself from painful traumatic experiences and memories and feelings that you can neither endure nor escape so they won’t have the power to push you to a point of no return.  I am a loving, merciful and gracious God.  I am offering you the gift of life, and when life becomes too painful to bear, I am giving you the capacity to defend and protect yourself so you can survive.”

             “I see,” said little soul DNA.  “I can escape things I don’t want to experience.  I can turn off the feelings I don’t want to feel.”

            “Little almost-but-not-yet-a-soul,” said the Creator, “you need only open your eyes to see.  A word of caution to you about the utilization of your psychological defenses.  They are only stop-gap remedies.  None of them are designed to last.  The overutilization of these defenses will prove futile, because they will falter, crumble under the stresses and strains of living, and over time each and every one of them will surely fail you.  The painful memories and feelings that you have been protecting yourself against will then flood over you and threaten to overwhelm you and destroy you.  All you will have left in the end is a bundle of defenses which will have become unto you like an autoimmune disorder.  Your defenses will then attack the healthiest and most vulnerable and precious parts of you and strangle the life from your soul.  The secret to using your defenses, is to not use them too much.  Life will afford you many opportunities to learn, that you, even in the midst of your most painful feelings, uncertainties, and self-doubts, are stronger and more resilient than your defenses. Your vulnerability is more powerful than all of your defenses combined.  It is only as you courageously make yourself vulnerable that you will be able to truly give and receive love.  This is what it is to be alive.  This is what it is to be a soul.  Living souls do not sleepwalk their way through life.  Living souls are wide awake to themselves and others.  Living souls feel everything.  Living souls come to love themselves as if they are of infinite worth, because they are.  Living souls come to feel their worth.  Living souls grow to transcend themselves, to feel their way into the feelings and needs of other souls, where they are moved with love and compassion for the souls of others.  Living souls even have the capacity to feel ME living within them.  I have been where you will be.  I have experienced what you will experience.  I have felt what you will feel.  I will be with you always.  I will always give you what it takes to live on my terms.  Tiny soul-apprentice, do you accept the terms of my proposal?”

            “Yes,” answered tiny soul-apprentice, “with the assurance of your love, mercy and grace.”

            “Then we have a deal,” said the Creator.  “Almost time for you to be born.”

            The Creator stepped closer to tiny soul soon-to-be-born, looked directly into the eyes of tiny soul’s heart.  “There is something else that you need to know,” said the Creator. “You will have no conscious memory of our deal.”

            “What?” asked tiny soul soon-to-be-born. “How will I know what I need to know to survive, to live?”

            “Little bundle-of-everything-you-need-to-be-a-soul, are you under the impression that you are some pre-fabricated, ready-made soul, whole and complete, here in this well?” asked the Creator.  “You are merely a bundle-of-raw-material-for-a-soul.  Life itself is a soul-making endeavor.  I am giving you a lifetime to make of yourself a soul.  It would be meaningless to install a finished and refined wise old soul in you before you are even born.  This is not some factory assembly line.  You are being given both the privilege and

 responsibility of making yourself into what I have given you the potential to become.  Life can’t be programmed without automating it.  Life can’t be taught in advance of living.  Life has to be discovered, experienced, lived.  This is how souls are made.”

            “But I want to remember!” said little bundle of everything needed to be a soul.  “I want to remember you!  I want to remember everything you have taught me!  I want to remember the deal we have made here!”

            “Precious speck of dust soon-to-be-animated-with-my-breath,” said the Creator, “you will have an unconscious awareness of everything that has transpired between us, our encounter, our conversation, your realizations, your informed consent, our deal.  It will all return to you, bit by bit, as discovery after discovery, as you live your life.  There will be times when a discovery will feel strangely familiar to you, as if you have always known what you have just discovered.  That will be you remembering what you have always known to be true.  Call it déjà vu.  Call it instinct.  Call it intuition.  It will feel like coming home.”

            “But I am home now!” cried the precious speck of dust soon to be animated with the breath of the Creator.  “I am home here with you!  I don’t want to leave you!”

            “Tiny spark of my soul, you will never have to leave me,” said the Creator.  “I have been where you will be.  I have experienced what you will experience.  I have felt what you will feel.  I will be with you always.  I will never leave nor forsake you.  In a moment, you will be born.  For a few fleeting seconds, you will feel like you are dying, like you are all alone, and all you will be able to do is cry.  Suddenly you will feel yourself breathe.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Open your eyes.  Look and see.  Listen and hear.  Notice what happens next.  You will be held and nourished by one of my incarnations.  She who cradled you in her womb will cradle you in her arms.  Look at her.  You will see my face in her face.  In the mirror of her eyes, you will come to see your worth.  In her touch you will feel my touch.  Your brain is already hardwired to her voice.  Listen to her.  You will hear these words which have been spoken in every language, spoken in languages beyond words, spoken by mortals and angels.  You need only listen to hear these words which have been ringing through the ages and which will ring through the ages of your lifetime through my many incarnations starting with she who gives you birth.  Listen to her.  Her words are my words, from everlasting to everlasting:  I love you.  I love you.  I love you.”

            The Creator breathed the breath of life.  “Time to be born.”


Todd Matson

 

Todd Matson is a North Carolina Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  His poems, “All Diagnoses and Degrees Aside,” “When the Sheep Cry Wolf,” “Method to the Madness,” and “Pastor-Parish Relations” have been published in The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling,” and he has written lyrics for songs recorded by number of contemporary Christian music artists, including “Forever,” by the Gaither Vocal Band; “Seasons of My Soul,” by Brent Lamb; and “Heartsound,” by Connie Scott.  He also cowrote the lyrics for “When I Found You,” with contemporary Christian music artist, poet and author, Gloria Gaither.


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1 Comments

  1. not a fan of religious thoughts but this one is most interesting and well written.

    ReplyDelete