The Memory of the Cage

Martin Laird writes in Into the Silent Land that on his walks he regularly observed four dogs; three ran and leapt through open fields and the fourth ran in tight circles. One day he asked the owner why the fourth dog didn’t run with the others. The owner explained that the dog had lived most of his life in a cage with only room to run in circles.

Laird uses this as a powerful metaphor of the human condition. The Psalmist says we are free. “My heart like a bird has escaped from the snare of the fowler.” (Psalm 123:7) …But for many the memory of the cage remains.

Laird describes the “memory of the cage” is when “we run in tight, little circles, even while immersed in open fields of grace and freedom”.

One example of the danger of the “memory of the cage” given by Laird is that it makes us believe we are separate from God. This separation requires us to live in a mental prison where we believe we are alone, shameful, stupid, afraid, and unloveable. [1]

This past week I looked for evidences of the “memory of the cage”. It was interesting how often I saw it in myself.

I saw instances where the “memory of the cage” overshadows true freedom. A mental cage remains that is sustained by the lies from the past that continue to be believed. Even when the lies are replaced with truth and the cage no longer exists there can still be evidence of the “memory of the cage”.

I was surprised to realize in that instance I was tempted to view life from within the cage rather than from the open fields of grace and freedom.

I challenge everyone to look for evidence of a “memory of the cage” within you as seen in personal reaction, reflection and observation of life experiences. The “memory of the cage” will stifle deep and lasting transformation that includes healthy responses to negative life experience. Transformation and freedom can be given up for the “memory of the cage”, which reinforces lies, bias, destructive beliefs and attitudes even though the cage is no longer there.

There are fields of grace and freedom that we can all fully experience.  Sometimes it takes intentional steps of joining with others in the process of breaking free.   The Healing Prayer Ministry of LCC can provide that safe place for an encounter with Jesus.  A place to experience transformation and life change, a place where you can stop running in tight circles and together we will run free through open fields!

[1] Laird, Martin, Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006), 19-20.