“Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God.”

— Henri-Frederic Ariel

Make a bit of room. Leave a little space. That may not sound like anything radical or revolutionary. But it turns out that it is one of Life’s favorite ways to make us into something new.

Be cautious with those cultural messages about aggressively tilling and turning up your whole soil. Watch out for all the heroic talk about striving and perfecting, struggle and control. The spiritual message of transformation is: Be careful with what you’ve been taught and told because much of it takes us in exactly the wrong direction. Take a different track. Remind each other that it’s more about breathing rather than being better; patience not perfection; depth not dominance; attention not improvement.

That part about attention instead of improvement is especially important. It’s so easy to get transformation mixed up with fixing. And fixing is transformation’s biggest foe. Trying to purify or prove ourselves is the surest way to stay stuck. The pursuit of purity gets focuses us on our inadequacy and inferiority, causing us to overlook those unexpected guests that Henri-Frederic speaks of.

And we don’t want to miss those unexpected gifts: those seeds brought by the wind are the partners that make transformation possible. They help us notice new paths. They invite us to walk with a new step. They awaken in us new songs. They remind us that transformation is not something we do alone. It’s not a long and lonely struggle. It can be the simpler and trusting act of taking the hand of “an unknown god” and being willing to dance a new dance.

So, friends, this month, leave some room on that dance floor of yours. Keep your eyes peeled. And when that unexpected guest reaches out its hand, don’t be afraid to follow its lead.

What were you taught in childhood about your ability to change yourself and/or the world? Are those lessons ones you need to remember or reject? Have you outgrown your life? What is today – this day- asking you to become?

Is your armor in your way?

About Rev. Emilie Boggis

Emilie is Minister of Congregational Life at The Unitarian Church in Summit.