A prayer today for the students starting Summer School in the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Theological Institute. This year, they are starting with a retreat, which seems like a very good idea, before they get down to studying the ecumenical scene.
It always seemed hard to me that they were faced with a block of intensive teaching just as the psyche wants to unbend a little and breathe more slowly, with the long lazy days of summer. So I hope a day of two of spiritual space clears the decks for some insight.
I happened to be looking again at Women who run with the wolves – a slightly wacky Jungian interpretation of traditional tales by Clarissa Estes. She writes of the task set for the young girl Vasalisa of washing the laundry of the firece wild hag Babi Yaga: “To wash somtheing is a timeless purification ritual. It not only means to purify, it also means – like the Latin ‘baptiza’ – to drench, to permeate with spiritual numen and mystery. … It means to make taut again that which has become slackened from wearing. The clothes are like us, worn and worn until our ideas and values are slackened by the passing of time. The renewal, the revivifying, takes place in the water, the re-discovering of what we really hold to be true, what we really hold sacred.”
And she argues that keeping the ‘fibres of our being’ cleaned, sorted and mended is essential for creative work. The girl Vasalisa then has to cook for Babi Yaga, and Estes sees this as stoking the fire of passion for what one does and feeding it, so developing her creative intuition:
“… the ability to measure things at a glance, to weigh in an instant, to clear off the debris round an idea, to name the essence of a thing, to fire it with vitality, to cook raw ideas, to make food for the psyche.”
A pretty good justification for a retreat, I’d say. God bless the students.