He guides me to the third gate, the water here is still deeper than I would like. Unlike the other two, the gate here is hinged and only has to be pulled open. Dark water and trash pour through the open gate.
“What is this?” I ask, surprised to find something else in these waters.
“Debris gathered by the next beast, fear of insufficiency.” He pauses for a moment. “Before we seek it out, we need to deal with the debris.”
The current carries the trash down to the waterfall. I gather boxes, cans, even bags out of the water. What are these? I wonder?
“Bad memories, anger and bitterness, old attachments.” He explains, surveying the rubbish.
“What do I do with these?” I ask.
He gestures to a fireplace in the castle wall, in the middle of the wall. I had not noticed it before. I see now, there is just enough ground between the wall and the moat, maybe three or four feet, for one to stand and light a fire there. “Burn them.”
It takes a long time to carry all the junk to the fireplace. But finally it is there. I am not certain that it will burn well wet. He seems certain though as He lights the fire himself. We cross the moat again and sit on the limb of the tree to watch the debris burn. As we do, the sun begins to set and the darkness of night descends on the garden.
“Where has all this come from?” I finally ask.
“Wounds.” He replies. “Some have been there a very long time, even from your birth.”
I think on what He has said. I do not think I have ever really been without and yet I always remember feeling afraid of insufficiency. Even now, it is difficult for me to let go of anything.
Finally the fire has consumed all the garbage. We walk back to the fireplace. I stir the ashes, hoping to find something worthwhile left from the flames, but there is nothing. Silently I wonder what will be left within me after all of this is complete.
He puts His hand on my shoulder. “It is time to seek out the next creature.”
“In this dark?” I am uneasy.
“Yes, it was formed in the darkness, even the darkness of the womb. Now it is time to seek it out.”
Uneasily I am guided by Him back into the water. The moon glows, allowing us to see dimly. The water is cold, adding to my ill-ease. He firmly entwines my arm in His as we walk through the waters. As we pass by the second gate, the water deepens and it is hard to keep my head above it. The fear rises in me. It approaches panic as we near the open third gate.
I repent for my fear, for by His side, there is nothing to fear. I repent for taking on the family legacy of fear, for harboring and nurturing it. “God has not given me a spirit of fear!” I cry. I am surprised to see the moonlight glinting off my sword as it flashes down cutting the lies that have bound me to these fears. I did not realize I had taken the weapon up again.
I can see in the moonlight that the water within the third gate begin to clear. We pass through the third gate, but the waters are too deep for me to continue on foot.
“Let me carry you.” He offers. He takes me in a lifeguard hold to swim with me through these waters. “Do not get lost in this place,” He warns.
“What should I do?”
“Listen to what I will speak to you.” He takes me to His breast to swim into the third gate. I had never noticed how powerful His arms were! I feel safe in His grasp.
The water is deep, cold and dark with the night as we enter the third gate. His strong stroke cuts through the water almost without sound. He begins to speak softly in my ear. “The monster in this place was formed even as your mother carried you in her womb. Her many fears and burdens touched your tiny spirit. You have always felt like a burden, like you were taking away from someone else, like you should not be.”
My shyness, never wanting to be seen, my fear of releasing anything for fear I would miss or need it, they all root here! I never realized this was all connected. Suddenly, I see!
Just as suddenly, a huge leech confronts me and tries to attach itself to my belly. It burns as it touches me! It seems, though, it cannot get purchase on me through His robe. I know if it does it will drain the life from me.
“Help me Papa! Get it off!” I begin to struggle—then I realize I might break away from Him if I do. True terror strikes me now. “Don’t let me go, Papa! Don’t let me go!” I pull at the beast but cannot break free. “I repent of these vows, of these beliefs that I have taken on as truth! I repent of holding on to anything that is contrary to Your word! Forgive me! Forgive me, Papa! Set my heart free of these bondages and cages, free to believe what is Your Truth. I break down these structures, rebuild them in Your perfection!” I cry finally realizing that my own strength will not free me from this monster.
“Cut it off.” He firmly directs, not loosing me from His strong grip.
I grab at the saber, awkwardly freeing it from its sheath. It is difficult to see the creature in the dark, to know where to strike at it. I don’t know how to use the weapon in this position, I am not even standing on my own two feet, but held firmly in His arms. But still, His instructions are always right, I must try to follow them.
At last I see how to do it. “You knew me; You formed me in the womb.” I call out, trying to breathe under the weight of the creature’s assault. “You have plans for me. I am not a burden, but a plan.” The blade slices down and frees me from the creature, but I dare not allow it to escape only to attack again. I plunge my hand into the water and finding it, throw it to the bank. It is far heavier than I had imagined, threatening to wrench my shoulder. It lands with a wet thud and seems to shrivel as it hits the ground.
I gasp for air as I feel the weight release from my chest. So much floods to the surface in absence of the weight that has kept it pressed down. “Forgive me! Forgive me for believing all these lies, Papa! Speak to this tiny girl’s heart, set it free to be wanted, to receive affirmation, to release things, to be seen! Oh, Papa, heal these damaged places.”
Crying and cold now, I feel His strong arm holding me close. “I am here,” He reassures me, swimming to the bank with me. We rest in the shallower water for a time.
Still I am overcome with all I have seen. “I never knew, never saw….” Even as I say this, I feel numb and confused, like there are pieces of an unseen puzzle trying to fall into place.
“This lies very deep within you, few see this depth. You feel little right now because it is so deep, but it is there.” He explains, soothing my confusion, validating my concerns. “There is one more we must conquer tonight. This one was also formed in darkness.”