The English word metaphor comes from a Greek root. The “meta-” part means across. The “-phor” part means to carry. The Greek root meaning of metaphor is “to carry across.”
A metaphor is an image we use, a bridge that carries meaning across from one thing to another. For instance, when we say that our spiritual quest for oneness is a journey home, we carry all the connotations and images of journeys and homes over to add to our understanding of the spiritual quest. A metaphor is a plank thrown across a ditch to move studs onto a deck to frame a new house. A metaphor is a door we open to enhance our lives.
Metaphors can be beautiful images that add meaning by associating one idea with another—we can read poetry and look at photographs for the sheer pleasure of how they transport us and expand our hearts and minds—but metaphors have urgent, practical uses as well. We need them in order to grow, in order to build, in order to journey toward new understandings and destinations. We need them as individuals living increasingly complex lives, and today we need them as a society facing threats to so much that we love and depend on to survive.
The Golden Room is a metaphor that first came to me as a vision (to read it, click here). The metaphor has extended over time in two directions:
the image of making an inner journey to and through our heart’s core Golden Room;
and the image of building an inner home or outer ideal life that is an expression of our heart’s core calling and becomes the Golden Room in and from and for which we live.
This website moves back and forth between spiritual and material realms over the bridges of these two extended metaphors of journey and building. They are not meant to provide a map or house plan to follow, they simply help describe the ways we go about finding and living in and from our Golden Room.
Sometimes it takes many calls to convince us of a calling. The Hebrew judge and prophet, Samuel, needed three callings and the help of old, wise Eli to work through his confusion. Jonah needed God’s voice, a storm at sea and the belly of the whale to overcome his resistance.
The Rev. Samuel Schaal, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Texas, approached me at a Life Planning workshop in the fall of 2011 where I had shared the vision of the Golden Room. He asked me if I would write it down for him, because he felt it could be useful for others. It was just one more in a long series of calls spanning two decades, but it was the one that finally convinced me that I had a calling to bring this project to life.
One afternoon in the late 1980s I was lying in bed with a fever, trying to meditate or pray a listening, contemplative prayer. I was turned on my side looking across at a carved wooden trunk that belonged to my grandmother when she was a girl. I felt called to get up and open it. I did not move, but I experienced everything that followed as absolutely real. I got up and opened the chest, and instead of seeing blankets, I saw a ladder dropping down into darkness. The same voiceless voice that called me to the trunk told me to climb down. As I went down, the light overhead grew smaller and finally disappeared. I was climbing through total darkness down a tight and hot tunnel. I was sweating. I was scraping my skin on the sides. I felt claustrophobic. I was afraid and had no idea that it was leading to any good, but I felt I had to keep going down.
After a long while, a golden glow appeared below me. I grew calm and curious. The ladder ended and I dropped down into a small room like a cave. Its walls were as smooth as yellow clay, but it was dry and warm. There was no visible source of the beautiful golden light. It just was. I was looking at the wall in front of me with wonder when I got the sense that someone else was there. I turned around and saw a man dressed in a white robe squatting on the floor, looking up at me and smiling. He said, “My name is Michael, and I am going to help you take what you find here and share it out there.” As he gestured with his arm the wall behind him turned into glass, like the wall of a bus station waiting room, and I saw the world outside and people passing by. Then the vision ended, and I was back in bed.
Over the next twenty years that vision kept coming to mind, and I pondered it. It was not clear to me what to do with it other than to keep up my contemplative practice and keep writing and working as much as I could from the place within me where I found my connection to God and my truest self. Over the years I learned much about how to live in and from the Golden Room, but I thought that what I was learning was meant to guide my own life.
Only recently did I come to understand that the vision is not for me alone. It is for us all. It is for the world. And it is urgent.
That is why I have created this site and why I welcome you here: to give you as much encouragement and assistance as I can for you to find your way to your own Golden Room and live in it and from it. This site provides insights, inspiration and tools to help you do that, as well as company for the journey and celebration along the way.