Unity of Birmingham Guest Writer Series:
By Jane Phillips
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
Last Week at Unity we had a “white stone” ceremony to begin the new year. The stones were small slabs—about the size of a domino—from a quarry near Bethlehem, hand cut and tumbled smooth. One fits nicely into your hand or a pocket. We were encouraged to write one word or one inspiration on the stone that came to us during meditation to guide us in the new year. On mine, I wrote “bring light,” perhaps because this time of year is dark and dreary, and I yearn for light.
This morning I woke up hearing that old Mamas and Poppas song “California Dreamin,” in my head. “All the trees are brown, and the sky is gray. I’ve been for a walk, on a winter’s day…” When I looked out the window, that’s exactly what I saw. So, the white stone inspiration is motivating me to create some light of my own.
Several years ago, during the pandemic lock down, I had one of those “socially distanced” lunches with some friends, one of whom was on the precipice of retirement. She was facing that awkward question of “what’s next,” and coming up blank. Our friend, Melanie, who is a professional musician, told us that her life coach had asked this question: “What is the music within you that is yet to be discovered?” For those of us who don’t happen to be musicians, the question might be, “What is the deepest desire of your heart that is yet to be satisfied?” or “What is the dream you hold in reserve?”
The quote above from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, I believe, speaks to a deeper level than “doing,” and goes to the question of “being.” It asks, who are you at your core? What is within you that you have not shared with anyone? What is hidden, rejected, neglected, or denied? What do you yearn for?
When we are unhappy with what we are doing in the world, no matter what age we are, it’s a good time to ask some questions about being. Change is the one constant in living organisms and systems. We are given this precious lifetime on this wonderful planet, and it’s true that there are some necessities that must be covered—food, clothing, shelter—without which we simply spend our days pursuing them. And sometimes, even when we seemingly have all the advantages, we have periods of scraping by and running dry. That’s the nature of life. Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung said, “Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health, personal growth, individuation, and self-actualization.” Overcoming difficulties is how we grow from being self-serving children into self-confident adults.
It’s easy to forget amid the struggles that we also have choices. We can spend this beautiful lifetime doing what feeds our bellies, but not our souls, or we can dig deeper within and determine what would feed both. So, I ask you on this gray winter’s day: What brings light to you? What nurtures your soul? Will you bring forth what is within you?
In the Spirit,
Jane Philips is a retired Special Education teacher, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Licensed Massage Therapist. She has also lead Spirituality Groups, Wisdom Circles, drumming circles, and she wrote a daily blog for twelve years called Spiritually Speaking.
Jane is currently working on a memoir titled, Old Crazy Town. She is a fifth-generation quilter.