Sunday, February 18, 2007

the Interior Castle

Trinity @ 7
February 18, 2007

There was a woman who lived long ago named Theresa, and she had a vision of the inner life that I’ve always found compelling. She saw the soul as a castle – a huge, beautiful, solid crystal castle that glowed from some inner light. The Interior Castle. Like any such fortress it had many different areas, and different lines of defenses. There were the fields outside the moat, there were the courtyards within the outer wall. There were rooms, each one holding something interesting and beautiful. The farther you went in, past more and more defenses, the more beautiful the rooms became.

She had a theory that some people never got beyond the moat of their own castle.

I think she may be right.

I mean, sure it may sound silly at first – who would be stuck outside the castle of their own soul? But it’s not like locking your keys inside your car. Anyone who clamors to have the drawbridge lowered – they’re not ignored. So you see, it’s not a matter of being trapped outside, but choosing to remain outside, choosing not to explore, discover, and adventure inside. Literally, they choose not to search their soul.

Because of course, along with beautiful rooms inside this castle, there are dragons as well.

Dragons. Kind of a dramatic metaphor, but then, so’s a castle.

Dragons – I’m sure you could name a few, if you thought about it. Maybe you already have. I can think of a few. The Dragon of Fear. The Dragon of Anxiety. The Dragon of Self-Loathing. The Dragon of Apathy and Indifference.

But these dragons don’t work like the ones in the fairy tales, where you need a hero to slay in them in mortal combat. In fact, these dragons may be the of the cuddly and misunderstood sort, because you don’t have to kill them to disarm them. No, you just have to have the courage to face up to them. To look them in the eye and dare them to tell the truth – about themselves, about their placement in this castle of your soul. All you, all I have to do, is look them in the eye and dare them to tell the truth about ourselves.

When that happens, fear turns into love, anxiety into joy, self-loathing turns into inner peace, and apathy and indifference turn into boundless compassion.

But of course, none of that happens if we don’t dare to venture inside. Because, without having stared the dragon down, it rampages, and it rampages with our permission – tacit though it may be.

So I invite you, as you come up to light a candle or two, light a candle for your own interior castle – for its sheer beauty, for the wonder of its rooms, for the light that shines throughout it, and for the dragons, each one for you to face.


Fran said...

Wow. That makes so much more sense to me than some interpretations of the Inner Castle that I've read.

Thanks, Sarey.


Sare said...


Yay. I'm glad you liked it. I think I added the dragons. I think Theresa had rabid hunting dogs or some-such, which ykno, would make quite the impact to peasants and nuns in the 14th Century (or was it the 15th?), but not so much to the here and now.

I mean, hunting dogs?

Anyway, a bunch of people got the blog addy after the service so they could have a copy too, but few had any experience with the technology before hand. I hope they didn't have any problems. It may or may not occur to them to leave a comment.

::hugs:: Thanks, Frannie.