I absolutely love how guidance can come in any form, any image, any words and from any source when we’re paying attention. Who would’ve thought, for example that Glinda the good witch coaching Dorothy on how to get home could be a symbol for spiritual direction? But that’s what happened not too long ago in a spiritual guidance session with a woman I’ll call Fran, whose permission I have to write about this.
It was the end of our time together and so I invited a few more minutes of silence to simply sit with what had transpired and to allow the space for anything else that wanted to emerge as guidance. “I’m not really getting anything,” Fran said, “just this weird image of Dorothy in the ruby slippers clicking her heels and then the words there’s no place like home.” I asked what she made of that. “I don’t know,“ she laughed, “it’s just weird, and oh, I’m remembering that I had this same image in the beginning too, when we first had our silence. But I don’t get it. Do you?”
“Well,” I said, “you came out the silence at the beginning saying that it was the first time you’ve been really quiet for quite some time and how good it felt to be here. Then you’ve been talking about how busy you’ve been and how your spiritual practice time has been filled with other things lately – sleeping later, working more etc.. What if we think about the home that Dorothy is longing for not as a farm in Kansas, but as the heart, as your heart, the very center of your being, the place of unity with what really matters – your true Self and connection to Source. Just try that on and see what happens next. I waited.
Of course Fran immediately got the message that her own connection to guidance had offered her in her “weird” imagery. We both cracked up – “so does that make me Glinda?” I asked. Well, in my mind I did… to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I actually said it, but I definitely thought it! And while in a million years I could never have come up with Glinda as a metaphor for the spiritual guide on my own, I’ve really enjoyed playing with it, and I think it has some possibilities, not to mention a fabulous wardrobe!
In the iconic scene that Fran was describing Dorothy wasn’t whooshed by a magic spell back to Kansas by the wand waving good witch. No. It wasn’t by means of someone else’s power that Dorothy could get home. Glinda didn’t make anything happen. She held the wand above Dorothy—a star of clear, illuminating light—while she guided Dorothy to remember what she really loved, and to remember that she has always had the power within her to obtain it.
Dorothy was right – there’s no place like home; no place like the radiant heart of remembering who we are, and to whom or what we belong. Every spiritual tradition has its practices for cultivating this remembrance. For the Sufis, it is the ceremony of Zikr, which means remembrance. Sufis come together in Zikr circles to help each other remember la ilaha illallah – there is no God but God, or there is no reality but the One Reality. Through poetry, chant, sacred conversation called sohbet, prayers and movement, the circle of lovers of love travels together from the outer world to the secret cave of the innermost heart.
There, longing is replaced by the ecstasy of homecoming. No effort is required to get home, no clicking of heels or magic spells. The innermost heart has never forgotten, because the innermost heart IS home itself; it is remembrance itself. And no matter how lost we might feel in the outer world, home is always here, right where we are, in just this moment, in just this next breath. There isn’t a being on earth that doesn’t have the power to dwell here, at home. The spiritual guide just shines the light of illumination to help us remember.