The 6th House: Thy Will Be Done

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Tomorrow will mark my last day of prayer in an eight-week online Ignatian Retreat. I started the retreat on a whim, as I do most things, and as part of a quest, the hallmark of my 9th house Sagittarian sun. Looking back, I think I was mostly motivated by an awkward journey through 6th house graces. My progressed moon is in the 6th house right now, and this year’s solar return has my sun, Mercury and Venus in the 6th house as well. The 6th house is foreign territory to me. I have no natal planets either there or in the sign associated with the 6th house, Virgo. I’m a fiery girl. The traditional house of skill, service and humility just doesn’t suit my impulsive, passionate nature. And yet, the time has come for me to enter the 6th house and stay a while. Huh. How to navigate? And why? I needed answers.

Steven Forrest teaches that the 6th house is the house of the guru and the disciple. Appropriately, I started his Apprenticeship program this year. Nothing about that felt awkward; on the contrary, traveling throughout the country to learn Evolutionary Astrology has been an exciting, expansive adventure. Yet, beginning to identify myself as an Astrologer has been incredibly awkward. And humbling. I spent many years and a small fortune amassing practical degrees from reputable universities, driven and accomplished. But none of those fields felt like the right fit. Astrology does. So how do I allow myself to be vulnerable enough to share this gift that I have found so helpful and healing, knowing that I might be judged? And how do I know when I have enough skill to help others? Sometimes all I can see is how much more I have left to learn. The hardest part of this 6th house journey has been facing my self-doubts and the darker sides of my ego. How do I get out of my own way?

Enter the Ignatian Retreat. Eight weeks of spiritual exercises for a half hour to an hour a day. That doesn’t sound like much time; there were days when I actually spent more time on Facebook than I did praying. But sticking with the retreat took effort and it took intention. And as I incorporated the exercises into my daily life, I began to see not only the working of God all around me, but also positive examples of the 6th house for me to follow: The teacher at my son’s elementary school, lovingly crafting 32 paper hats and tissue paper flower centerpieces for a Madeline tea party; My husband, calmly cleaning the bathrooms on his day off with nary a grumble or an audible “Yuck.” And my son, graciously accepting constructive criticism from his classmates during their Writing Celebration. Unanimously, fellow second graders agreed that Lyndon needed to “have neater writing next time.” I watched Lyndon listen to their advice in a kind and patient way, devoid of any defensiveness. His combative, often stubborn Mom could learn a lot from him. There are plenty of ways I can improve. I’m starting to get the memo.

Today’s spiritual exercise included a prayer called the Suscipe:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Hmm. I was willing to hand over my memory, for sure. Maybe even my understanding. But the thought of surrendering my liberty and my will suddenly terrified me. I realized how incredibly attached to my own will I am. With Aries rising and an Aries moon, I have will in spades, for better or worse. And yet, here is a chance for me to surrender my will to a Creator who loves me and wants the very best for me, who sees and knows more than I do. I have a chance to surrender my gifts to the one who gave them to me, so that they can be used for the greater good. Can I give up my liberty and my will? Harder still, can I do so with the enthusiastic resourcefulness of that schoolteacher, the patient diligence of my husband, the friendly humility of my son?

I can try. As scary as it is for me, at least I know I don’t have to walk through this 6th house alone. There are gurus all around me. I just have to stay watchful and humble while I await my instructions. A little faith won’t hurt, either: Incorporating these 6th house lessons will only hone the gifts of fire and passion I already have. I’m just being asked to learn and grow in new ways that feel incredibly strange and honestly, sometimes unsatisfying. But my job is just to stick with it. And so I reflect on today’s photos, which I took this summer at La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and this week at the Madeline Tea Party: The Lord’s Prayer, carved in 50 languages, and a centerpiece made from a paper towel roll, pipe cleaners and tissue paper.

Something beautiful, surprising and unique will come from this time and effort. Hang in there.

Thy will be done.