We are at the Tenth Holy Night. We are contemplating the tenth need of the soul. I do not begin the Inner Christmas messages with a set of specific topics. The theme is always clear, but the twelve topics are always a surprise and a delight. The topics reveal themselves to me and then I begin to work with them, find the meaning and then the reason for the topic. Yesterday I had planned to write about the need for boundaries and limitations and suddenly, it was “boxes.” I tried to focus on boundaries and limitations, but boxes kept pushing them out of the way. So I wrote about boxes and learned so much about the need the soul has for these ordering containers.
While I was writing about boxes, tonight’s topic floated into my consciousness - Balloons! I argued with this impulse - balloons hardly seem profound - but as I explored the image of balloons, I realized it was another inspiration from the Spiritual World that I could not ignore.
With soul boxes, we focused on the details and categories of our soul lives. Tonight, we grab on to balloons and let them carry us high up in our consciousness where we can expand the horizon and see the vast landscape of our souls.
In a sense, the Holy Nights are a 12 day trip in a balloon. Inwardly our consciousness naturally drifts close to the spiritual world. Filled with the lightness of the spirit, we rise to heights of self-awareness. We see vistas of our inner life from a new perspective. Like a hot-air balloon in the air, we are carried by the spiritual currents in surprising directions. Spiritual forces want us to see our souls from a particular point of view and from a special distance.
From the balloon, we can see mountaintops in relations to valleys, arid deserts in relationship to rain forests, wheat fields to corn fields. In our soul balloon, we can see the relationship of sorrows to joys, questions to answers, forgiveness to resentment, loneliness to friendships, seeking to wisdom and so on.
We can see the course of the river of life as it meanders through the years. We can see the tributaries and riverbanks, the waterfalls and rapids.
Tonight, imagine yourself in a wonderful hot air balloon floating high above your soul life. First, describe your balloon. What does it look like? What is in the basket with you. Do you have guidebooks to the soul’s landscape? A camera or sketchbook. Is your cell phone with you? Who are the people you would call? Or are you taking a solitary flight?
Now look below. What do you see. It would be great to draw the vista. Make a map of your soul life. I have included some of Saul Steinberg’s maps and vistas as examples.
This drawing exercise will help you put your life in perspective. You might put a river running through it to see the course of your life. Enjoy this exercise, let the drawing just happen. If you don’t know what to draw, close your eyes and go back into the balloon flight. Draw what you see.
You can draw from a vertical perspective and make a map of your soul life so far. Or you can draw what you see from an oblique perspective and include the horizon and sky in reverence to the mystery of the future, or look in the opposite direction to the horizon and sky of the past.
You can do a map of all your relationships with others, a map of your work life or your spiritual life. Draw quickly as in a sketch or use this drawing exercise as an active meditation for a few days or a few months. Be inspired and be curious.
And most of all, be willing to be surprised. Find the acres of anger suddenly transform to pastures of love. See suffering become wisdom. Watch hurt become forgiveness. This all happens because from this new perspective, everything falls into place and finds new meaning.
Throughout the year, go for a balloon ride in your soul life often. You will be amazed at what you can see from high in your soul.