Kidd: Spiritual Whittling
“There’s an old Carolina story I like about a country boy who had a great talent for carving beautiful dogs out of wood. Every day he sat on his porch whittling, letting the shavings fall around him. One day a visitor, greatly impressed, asked him the secret of his art. “I just take a block of wood and whittle off the parts that don’t look like a dog,” he replied…. In spiritual whittling, though, we don’t discard the shavings. Transformation happens not by rejecting these parts of ourselves but by gathering them up and integrating them. Through this process we reach a new wholeness. Spiritual whittling is an encounter with Mystery, waiting, the silence of inner places—all those things most folks no longer have time for.”
Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits
This is my experience of transformation as well. I constantly realize that parts of my life that keep me “together” or keep me connected to God that are so useful at one time of my life or keep me safe may be tired and worn and need to rest. What I have to offer, my ministry changes. One of the hardest of course was giving up my medical practice that had been my identity, but I was learning that there were so many other things I wanted to do, and it was more and more difficult to keep up with the constantly changing technical medical world. Also, just because I am good at one ministry doesn’t mean I should keep doing it. I may be keeping others from the joy of that ministry, and actually they may be able to do it better!
I also am learning to be more vigilant about habits that kept me safe during some parts of my life which have later become destructive.
What am I trying to say? Life is about constantly giving up control or the allusion that we are in control. It is also being open to change, letting doors shut, but being open to entering new doors or not being afraid to sit in the hallway for a while, waiting to hear the squeak of another door opening. It is about trusting, avoiding being stuck and stagnating or thinking I am out of options.