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Preparing for Spring
The Illuminative way is the season of outward vitality, growth, and transformation.
One November morning when my daughter was young, we got up early, put on a pair of rain boots and went for a walk. After puddle jumping across the neighborhood, we came across a Red Oak hanging bare in the wind.
“Dad, why is that tree dying?” She wondered out loud.
“It’s not.” I replied.
She tilted her head and looked up at me with a scrunched face. I bent down and lifted one of the golden leaves off the ground.
“This tree is not dying; the leaves are. Winter is actually a growing season for trees.”
“Huh?” She muttered.
I tried getting through with a question: “Do you know that you can only see half of this tree?
She looked skyward for a few seconds and then said, “Oh yeah! The other half is in the ground.”
“Right. And do you know what the other half is called?”
“The roots!” She said, jumping and splattering rain water on my lips and chin.
“Right. This tree looks like it’s dying above ground, but below, it’s thriving. Its roots are spreading out and deepening.”
I could tell I satisfied her curiosity — but then her scrunched face returned, “Dad?”
“Why are the roots deepening?”
I handed her the golden leaf and whispered into her ear, “It’s preparing for spring.”
If the Illuminative way were a season, it’d be springtime, that vigorous period when branches broaden, sprigs shoot, and pansies push through the earth.
It’s the season where death gives way to life, the season of outward vitality, growth, and transformation. The key difference between the Purgative and Illuminative ways though, is our progress is more pronounced in this second stage. Our transformation is more noticeable.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we leave purgation behind. We still experience the purgative pains of asceticism, temptation, and affliction.
The Illuminative and Purgative way go together.
Truth be told, all the stages do. We may find ourselves in the Purgative way, and experience profound moments of illumination and union. Or we may find ourselves in the Unitive way and feel experiences of purgation and illumination.
We never cancel out the stages.
We never abandon them, we build on them.
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