Entropy & Hestia: Dream puzzles and how God talks to me

Every so often, God speaks to me in riddles. Or perhaps puzzles is a better word. He will give me something — an image, a word, or both — that doesn’t make sense on the surface of it. It’s like I feel my mind grab hold and start worrying it like a dog worries a bone. What does this mean???

Entropy

The first time I recall waking up with a word resounding in my head was when I dreamed of looking into a pile of embers and seeing a decomposing fish. It was strange, because the embers were obvious hot and should be cooking the fish, but it was rotting as if the heat meant nothing. And when I woke, the word ENTROPY was emblazoned across my inner forehead.

Now, I knew — generally — what entropy was. But it wasn’t a word I dealt with daily or intimately, so I looked it up. And although scientists often emphasize that the layman’s idea of the “Law of Entropy” isn’t technically correct, as soon as I saw the general idea (that the universe never becomes more orderly, but instead decays from a state of order to that of disorder), I knew what God was saying to me:

“Something that is neglected will not get better on its own. It will get worse.”

It was a commentary on my health and fitness. I’d spent decades ignoring my body and not investing attention and time towards being fit and healthy. It was time for that to change.

Hestia

This week, it happened to me again. There wasn’t a dream image, but 3-4 times during the night, I woke with the word “hestia” in my mind. What in the world? What is that? A foreign word? A name? Each time, I went back to sleep, thinking, “Well, if it’s important, I’ll remember it in the morning.”

Sure enough, I woke and there it was, still: Hestia. I reached for my cell phone and did a quick Internet search. It was the title of an anime show. And it was the name of a Greek goddess. As soon as I saw the role of the goddess, I knew that was the one God was talking about.

hestiaSmallBHestia is the goddess of hearth and home, of family and domestic affairs. All of my life I have desired adventure and heroic action and despised the idea of “just” staying at home and raising a family. As a child I declared, “I’m never getting married!” As a teen I found that I desired romance, but still declared, “I’m never having children!” But as I studied God’s word with my husband, I discovered that He created man and woman to have families. So eventually, 10 years after getting married, we had children.

But the resistance to home and family and domestic things runs deep. And I mean DEEP. Subconsciously, I associate homemaking as the very worst enemy of creativity, adventure and finding meaning in life. It is my nemesis. Being a wife and mother is the thing that traps women in iron chains, makes them of no value to anyone except as slaves who provide food and clothing so that the other family members can go out and have adventures. It robs them of any chance to make beautiful art or to change the world scene. It bogs them down with mundane and meaningless tasks that never end: laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping.

hestia-mythmanI’m not sure why this feeling is so deep or where I got this idea. Both my parents worked, so I don’t recall seeing my mom “trapped at home” with her talents and skills wasting away. However, when I was growing up, my parents were in a very authoritarian, patriarchal Christian cult, and “women have their place in the home” was a big part of that. So perhaps that was the source of this twisted view of domesticity. Whatever the case, God decided that it was time to continue renewing my mind on this topic.

So He painted me a different picture.

And because He is the one who formed me, who knows me, and who loves me for who I am, He speaks to me in a language that I love, a language that I understand. The language of myth and legend, of stories and dreams.

Every detail of Hestia’s story speaks to me

hestia-statue01 hestia-statue02 hestia-statue03

She is the firstborn of the Olympian gods, older sister of Hera, Demeter, Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus. I am the firstborn of five kids. I understand firstborn responsibilities and I associate being the firstborn with great blessing and the largest portion of the inheritance. It’s a good thing.

She is honored with the first offering of every public sacrifice, and during home worship was given both the first prayer and the last. This is no small role, no forgotten goddess (although we may have forgotten her because she is not often depicted in art and performed no antics in the tempestuous and dramatic tales of the Greek gods’). She was central to life.

hestiaEBLShe was practical and not pretentious, sitting on a simple wooden throne with a white wool cushion. She didn’t get involved in all the ridiculous and petty politics of the Greek gods, but stayed to keep the fires of Mount Olympus burning. She was a hospitable and calming influence. That’s how I want to be.

When a new town was settled, a flame from the public hearth of the original hometown of the settlers was brought to the new hearth. The public hearth was a place of refuge and asylum for visitors, and the fire was always burning. I want my home to be a place of refuge to others.

She is a virgin goddess, having rejected both Apollo and Poseidon as suitors and choosing to remain chaste. While I have a wonderful husband and love life, and therefore am not chaste, this aspect of Hestia would be an inspiration were I a single mom or widow. And it appeals to me that she is highly valued even apart from any role as a sexual partner.

I love that Hestia is depicted in art with fire. One of the names that God has called me is Torchbearer. I am to bring His light into every place I go, to shine light into dark places. How beautiful to realize that the torch I carry comes from the flame of the hearth. The strength of my light is founded and supported by the flame I keep burning at home. There is a place I can go to replenish my flame… a place whose quality is dependent on my care.

Epiphany: The home is both a source of strength and something that requires our care. Give home fires their due and they will sustain you and your family and your community.

How does Hestia change my everyday life?

hestia-howard-david-johnsonWhen reprogramming my mind from hating domestic things to embracing them, I might struggle to put God’s way into a concise affirmation. There are many aspects to running a home. There are times when a single scripture is what I need to renew my mind in an area.

And this time, it is a single word, laden with connotations and the layers of imagery surrounding it, that recenters me on the value of any domestic thing that I do.

When I am resenting yet ANOTHER load of laundry, I simply think, “Hestia,” and I am suddenly a goddess who is keeping the life-fire of my home burning. I am nurturing and shaping the environment so that my children feel safe and learn responsibility and love.

Afterthought

Wondering whether it’s biblical for someone to see an image or hear a word and then for God to explain to them what it means? It happened all the time to people in the Bible.

God showed Jeremiah an almond branch and then told him that it meant God was ready to perform his word.

God showed Pharaoh two dreams, both with the same pattern. Joseph interpreted the meaning and knew that it was repeated so that Pharaoh would know that it was certainly going to happen.

God gave Ezekiel a story about an eagle and a tree and explained that it was really about international politics.

What’s your favorite example (biblical or personal) of God using parables, imagery or other mysterious things to speak to someone? Leave a comment below!

Footnotes

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Uncaging the Lion

An excerpt from a wondrous message I heard today. It astounds me every time I realize that God’s Spirit is inspiring such marvelous messages all over the world and all the time and  in so many places and people.

The more the Internet connects us together, the easier it is to access these wonderful resources.

Anyway, so I don’t want to lose the confirmation of this message, so I’m jotting it down here to read again and again…

[begin excerpt:]

“All things were created through Him and for Him and in Him all things hold together…” (from Colossians 1:16-17)

Sometimes what you pick up in religious circles is that the job of a Christian is to take Jesus to a land or a people that doesn’t have Him, and then sort of deliver Him. Like, “Where do you want me to put Him?”

But Jesus is HEAVY.

Is witnessing, or sharing your faith, transporting Jesus — *grunt* lift with your legs, not your back — to some place: “Here is our Jesus.”

OR is He already, in some profound way, present in that place with that person, giving life? Is He not holding things together already and your job is simply to NAME that which is already real, true and present.

Is it Jesus over *here* and then all the people that need Him over *here*, or is He some way already present and your job is naming the reality that they are already in but they just haven’t recognized yet? Come on!

… How many of you, when you first met Jesus, coupled with your first encounter with Jesus was this realization that He had in some way been with you the whole time? You woke up to a life that had been sustaining you. It’s like you’d been asleep. And you woke up. You’d been blind and all the sudden, you saw. You had been ignorant, and all the sudden you became aware.

That’s how these first Christians wrote and talked about this Jesus, this power at the center of everything that was made known in its fullness when God raised Him from the dead.

[end excerpt]

— Rob Bell, in his message at Mars Hill, “Uncaging the Lion”

I’ve sensed the reality of this many times, but never quite connected the scripture and the experience this way, so I could put my finger on it. It can be so fundamentally at odds with the almost unmentioned background idea I’ve picked up in church, that people are lost and completely disconnected in all ways with God — and then at some specific point in time, they encounter the gospel and God shows up in their lives.

That somehow, God wasn’t involved before that. That every bit of “truth” they picked up before then is somehow tainted or not really true because they weren’t connected with God “back then”. That somehow, their spiritual gifts couldn’t have been in operation “back then”. That somehow, they couldn’t have been hearing from God or listened to His Spirit “back then”.

Erp! Wrong!

I like this Rob Bell guy. Heh.

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Do vs. Be

I’ve read a lot of things over recent years that have convinced me that my “Type A” personality needs to take a chill pill. I have spent WAY too much of my life focused on getting a list of things done, basing my personal value on my accomplishments (whether quantity or some desired specific goal being met). I’ve internalized to some extent this concept: my worth is not determined by what I do, but by who I am. I am God’s child, I am His friend, I am all these wonderful things because I am in Christ.

With that bit of backdrop to give you some context for where I’m at mentally / spiritually, here’s tonight’s ponderance. . . I was washing the dishes and imagining a conversation with my husband.

“What do you want to do tonight, honey?”

“I don’t know. What do YOU want to do?”

“No, sweetie, I want to bless you — what would you like?”

“Well, I want to bless you, too — what are YOU in the mood for?”

And yes, sometimes it goes on… and on… like those two crows in the old Disney cartoons. “I dunno, whataYOUwannado?”

From a Specific Example Comes General Revelation

I thought about the things I usually like to do with him: watch movies, play computer games, watch good preaching, etc. I wondered why I often seem to shy away from sitting down specifically to “just talk”. I realized that in some part, I probably don’t like doing this because 1) I often walk away from our conversation with a list of to-do items and 2) I often walk away from these conversations with a list of things to repent of and/or change in my life or daily routine.  *sigh*

So I thought, what if I knew our conversation would be pleasant and free of any to-do items or emotionally trying discussions? Would I still avoid “just talking”? Is this an area where I need to apply more “be” vs. “do”? Are there people who enjoy just “being” with each other? Not even talking, just “being”?

Weird concept. Just sitting there, doing NOTHING?

But… but… but… could that be right?

Am I missing something vital because of my typical Type-A approach?

Is Being Really About Doing Nothing?

So I thought about my ideal vacation or recreational activities. Aren’t any of them “just being”? Well, I could play in the water and swim for hours and just enjoy the sensations of “being” in the water. I could sit in the forest and “just be” by a tree or watching the ants do their jobs for days. I love going for walks.

And yet… when I really examined each of these things, there wasn’t really any “just being” that was totally free from “doing”. Swimming and walking are stress relieving exercise. Walking especially I find enjoyable because of how well it facilitates my prayer time and hearing from the Lord. I have most of my best conversation with Him while walking or driving.

I love to sit in the forest, but again, it’s because I hear from Him — and often I record what I hear in writing or art. I never picture myself in the forest without picturing a notebook or sketchbook in my hand (or lately, a camera).

Then it dawned on me: For me to just “be” is to “be” who I am: an artist, a writer, someone who loves to hear from God and express what I see and hear. I am happiest “just being” when I am doing what I am made to do.

So What’s the Difference?

So then, the difference between the “be” vs. “do” is that to do is so focused on the doing, not enjoying who you are or what you’re doing, but driving and pushing towards some end result as if that is the desired goal. To do places the reward or satisfaction in the realm of the temporal and makes the joy dependent on the performance of the task. That’s the negative of the”do” idea.

To be is to be in the “eternal now”, living the present moment to the fullest and enjoying the being (and doing of being). The reward is immediate and yet never limited to time and space. If your satisfaction is centered in being who you are in Him, then you are ALWAYS satisfied, whatever you’re doing — now and forever. That’s the key to “just being”.

If this is true, then it’s not about doing nothing so much as it is about being who you are and enjoying everything you do by being in the moment. So whatever I do with my husband, be myself and enjoy him being himself. Don’t focus on the TV show or the computer game — or even the good preaching. Be joyous and creative and loving and attentive and curious and eager and enthusiastic in everything.

Don’t “just be” but totally be (who I am in Christ) in whatever I do.

Hmm.

And now I’m only left with one niggling question: is this a cop out, or is this revelation?

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