Click for audio: The Challenge with Pronoun Placement
“One drop of water taken from the ocean is just as perfect ocean water as the whole great body. The constituent elements of water are exactly the same, and they are combined in precisely the same ratio or perfect relation to each other, whether we consider one drop, a pail full, a barrel full, or the entire ocean out of which the lesser quantities are taken; each is complete in itself; they differ only in quantity or degree. Each contains the whole; and yet no one would make the mistake of supposing from this statement that each drop is the entire ocean.” Emilie Cady
I want to follow up on last week’s topic by expanding on the pail/ocean water imagery presented here by Emilie Cady. If we think of the pail as the self-image and the ocean water as the soul, we have a good analogy for approaching today’s subject.
Considering the notion of soul growth, it’s probably fair to say that most people see themselves as a pail that is, over time, being filled with ocean water (God). Jesus would represent a pail filled with water while the rest of us would be only partially filled. Our goal is to become filled with God. This places our spiritual development on a linear track with each lesson learned over the years adding a bit more water to the pail. Many see this filling process occurring over multiple lifetimes. If we do not get filled during this life, we have the opportunity to come back and continue or complete the process.
While I embraced this model for many years, I have now come to see things quite differently. The basis of Jesus’ message was not geared toward helping us fill our pail. His message was a revelation that our pail is already full. Our soul is now and has always been complete. The problem is not in our spiritual incompleteness but in where we are placing our pronoun “I”. We are saying, “I am a pail here to be filled with water.” We should be saying, “I am ocean water momentarily filling this pail.” We have defined ourselves as the pail when we should be defining ourselves as the water.
Spiritual growth is not a horizontal issue. It is a vertical issue. Spiritual completeness is not in the distant future; it is already accomplished. It is our work to become aware of this truth.