One of my favorite book series is The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I probably know most of the dialog in all of them, I do not have an addictive personality, except for this. As addictions go, this one is harmless, inexpensive, and does not cause undue harm to the body. I have received considerable insights from these books, historical and otherwise.

In the book, “A breath of snow and ashes” the character Roger MacKenzie carves a little wooden car for his young son, Jemmie. He carves the wood in such a way that the toy will have wheels that actually turn, that’s a feat! He is trying to listen to his wife, ignore the racket of children playing, and clear away that last little bit that will allow the wheel to spin freely. So close, one more little shaving….and it’s done! Now the car can be rolled across the floor. Jemmie’s mouth hangs open in astonishment, he shrieks with delight, and Roger has created a success. It’s so successful that now he must create a rolling car for every kid in sight. Roger knows that the wheel will not be freed until those last tiny precise movements of the knife release it from the rest of the block of wood. He persists, carefully, patiently, no matter the noise and distraction around him. This image comes to me often when doing spiritual work. With every prayer, every chanting, every blessing…some little bit of darkness falls away. True light can be more fully revealed.

Removing our darknesses and faults, weaknesses, failings, unforgiveness, and all that mortal impedimenta is a lot like carving. We would like to think that we can just drop those things, or be instantly healed of them through some miraculous blessing, and of course that is possible. More often it’s a day to day repetition of the same disciplines over and over as we gradually spiral upward. I recall a spiritual teacher speaking of transcending difficulties, and saying something about “grinding away the ego.” At the time I thought, Yikes! That seems harsh, and sounds like a lot of work. Well, yes. The mortal ego is deeply entrenched, and like a virus can change its shape and way of staying in place. That is the intention of ego, to keep things as they are, it’s threatened by change, and will do what it needs to, to keep its hooks embedded. And also no, sometimes it is as easy as removing the attention from egoic arm-waving and placing our attention on a higher plane of being. To do that, we must create that space, make room in ourselves for that higher frequency.

Through various mental and spiritual techniques, we carve, whittle, and chip away at those negativities that hamper our lives, our relationships, our soul journeys. It’s seldom straightforward or easy.

If we had the perspective of our higher self, our oversoul, we could watch the progress as it goes. There now! Only two slivers to go, and that wheel spins free! We who are here in the incarnated world of yin and yang can imagine that perspective, and maybe even rest there for a while, but when we’re in the doodoo it’s difficult to do. And so we whittle. Put our heads down, and persist.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ~ Thomas Edison

Mr. Edison’s quote is on a theme that my mind keeps returning to, and I will undoubtedly write about again. It’s like Everest, those last thousand feet or so must be the very devil. The air is almost nonexistent, the lungs labor, the muscles scream with fatigue and oxygen deprivation, the mind wanders or shuts down altogether. And yet, mountain climbers go on, step by step, sometimes inch by inch until they reach the top. The last climb is the steepest part of the journey. Isn’t this often true of the spiritual journey? We are tested, and tested hard to prove our worthiness, our commitment, our inner strength. If we are fortunate we have a teacher of elevated consciousness and soul standing, one who will guide and teach in such a way that when the dark is really dark, we hear his words of promise and light in our hearts, and persevere.

There have been times for me when old habits of thought, less than wholesome appetites, lethargy, have seemed to block my ability to move forward. It’s less now, but occasionally creeps in at the corners and makes me take a nap, watch the news, take a 2nd glass of wine at dinner. Then there’s the physical body, with its ways of letting us know that we believe in sickness and aging somewhere in our being. I find now that if I go, (and sometimes I literally have to force myself to go…) to my Calligraphy table and practice, without fail, I feel better. When I trace the great Light Calligraphy that I have been blessed to receive, I feel better. When I sit in my meditation room and do the practices I have been taught, when I truly serve, I feel better. There’s always something we can do to lift ourselves out of doubt, ennui, dispair. But we have to be willing to sometimes force our feet to move to the table, whatever that table is for each individual.

I have always had a great capacity for persistence, my father often referred to me affectionately as “my little hardhead.” I didn’t always use it in a positive or constructive way, but to get my way. I believe that I have learned to channel that gift in a way that has served my journey well so far.

Kristin Strachan —



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