Convent of St. Teresa in Avila Spain
Fr. Dale Matson
As I reflect on my dreams included in twenty years of journaling, there are frequent appearances by lions and tigers and bears. I believe a Jungian understanding would be that these animals symbolize untamed aspects of us. They are things about us that can be latent passions. They are the dark parts of our own soul and our unconscious life. Our dreams are also where God speaks to us, often using the language of symbols. It is here that God can bypass the ego’s diminished capacity as sentinel and filter. God once appeared to me as a bright light with radiant beams of light projecting from Him. One of the rays came directly into my chest. It has given me a great and lasting comfort knowing that I belong to Him.
The Wizard of Oz includes a scene where Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow are walking through a dark forest on their way to emerald city.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peh61wd-53w&feature=related It is here that the Dorothy responds to the Tin Man’s caution with, “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.” For Dorothy, it is a vivid and colorful unconscious experience when compared to her otherwise ordinary black and white life in the conscious world.” Eventually, the characters learn on their journey that they already have within themselves what they were seeking on their journey. It is a journey to a destination in another realm in an attempt to return home.
For many years, I have been captivated by the life of St. Teresa of Avila and had the opportunity to visit her convent in Avila. I have been reading The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. In her book, she describes the mansions of the soul. They are rooms within the soul with each room closer to the most interior mansion where God dwells. It is the journey of the soul on its pilgrimage back to God. In the First Mansion Chapter II, she commented about the hindrances to humility and self-knowledge, “The room itself is light enough, but he cannot enjoy the light because he is prevented from doing so by these wild beasts and animals, which force him to close his eyes to everything but themselves. This seems to me to be the condition of the soul which, though not in a bad state, is so completely absorbed in the things of the world.”
The wild beasts and animals are the lions and tigers and bears of our dreams. Dorothy and St. Teresa exhort us to courageously take on this journey of self-discovery as we also attempt to find our way home. It is a dangerous journey with wild beasts and evil creatures. Dorothy was kept safe on her journey by the ruby red slippers. We are kept safe by our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.” (Ephesians 6:15).
Lord, protect us on our way home to you. Give us courage, humility, self knowledge and zeal. Amen