I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of an archeological dig, and have imagined what it must be like to unearth remains that confirm what has, until then, only been suspected. It’s thrilling to envision excavating the one piece that finally connects the dots. To uncover a previously hidden source of information that will advance our understanding of who we are and how we got here.
Having never actually been on a dig, or even visited one, it is easy to romanticize the process, filtering it through cinematic eyes, and imagining myself as the hero who finds the one piece that finally completes the puzzle, and wins the prize. I’m no archeologist, but my guess is that in reality, it must boil down to a lot of slow, careful, methodical work, and the site being excavated still might not yield the hoped for evidence. Which means knowing where to dig matters, as does how long to dig. There will always be one more tiny piece, one more fraction of a bone or shard of a pot to find, but when weighed against the effort and investment to keep digging, will the pay off be worth it?
The same could be said for the excavation of our inner lives. Understanding who we are and how we got here as individuals is some of our most important work. To be done well, it will require some digging, some emotional archeology as my wise spiritual director calls it. Filling in the picture of our past can help us live more fully now, and such work often requires the help of a trained professional to help us understand what we’ve uncovered. This archeology can provide us with the piece that completes our puzzle, bringing us the rewards of compassion and forgiveness, healing and wholeness.
Knowing where to dig and for how long matters here too. There will always be more tiny shreds of evidence of our past to dig up. Knowing when to stop digging up the past and get on with living in the present will make a big difference in the future still ahead of us.