schoolteacher saturnAh, bummer. Do I have to write about Saturn? A certain voice in my head tries to distract me. Procrastinate a little. What’s up with Venus, say what about Mars? Seriously , it says now clearly annoyed, straightening its uniform, tapping its foot. Better pay attention. The teacher doesn’t have all day.

Here’s the gist of Saturn’s classroom. You’re on your way to school…

A whisper: That was the first bell and if you’re not in your seat by the second bell…

A thought: Oh crap, I forgot to sharpen my pencils. And there’s a test today…

A teacher: You’re late again (booming voice echoes through the silent classroom). I’ll see you at 3:00 – for detention!

That’s the feeling tone of our first Saturn experience – we’re held accountable by a strict headmistress. Our experience of Saturn changes over time, we become a little more polished and sophisticated at the expectant wagging finger.

We gain experience, maturity. But it still feels basically the same. The book has been thrown (at you) to no rhyme or reason. The funny thing is – you used to skate over these minor mishaps with ease. So I got up late, my alarm clock didn’t go off. What, big deal? I’m human. Uh-oh, Saturn’s hit pay dirt.

Were you in the world of Venus or Jupiter or even the Moon, all would be forgiven. Venus would kindly listen to your story and give you one more chance. Jupiter might say, let’s just postpone the test and have a group discussion about astrology, how fun! The Moon would notice how emotionally jostled you look, empathetically considering the problems you’re having at home she’d let you slip on by – maybe stopping you after class to console you. But you’re in Saturn’s world. The rules are different here.

Follow the rules or not – it’s your choice. In Saturn’s classroom, you get schooled.

Saturn limits and tests, constrains and pains. A teacher you love to hate, Saturn takes great pains to make sure you’re getting your lessons completed. Pains, said she. A statistics class when your weakness is math; a language teacher when you’re afraid of being tongue tied; the public speaking “opportunity” that breaks you out in hives. Saturn puts you on the spot because you’re in a spot. In fact, you’re in between a rock and a hard place, with just enough oxygen, food and water to survive. And even that feels questionable.

As we play student to Saturn in our earlier years; in later years we einsteinbecome the teacher. Every encounter with Saturn now builds something we have and hold later – and ultimately attain mastery over. The laws of reality appear harsh at first; later they’re a handy book to which we often refer. Oh, I never thought about the consequences of staying in this broken down job, house or relationship…but now I get it. The getting it is the hard part. We have to buck up and buckle down – or learn our lesson the hard way.

Saturn is where we find our growing edge. After a few encounters with Saturn we begin to anticipate the good that will surely come from finding our integrity and resourcefulness in “caught between a rock and a hard place” situations. It’s often a lonely place, because we’re called to stand alone, to make a choice on behalf of our integrity and often our physical limits. You know the feeling: I’ve finally reached the end. I just can’t keep doing this anymore.

With experience we recognize that this voice, as lonely and plaintive as it lead into goldsounds, is far from empty. We begin to hear it as a personal calling. After passing Saturn’s test: walking away from a broken relationship, devoting incredible time and effort to an endeavor, in short, attempting the impossible – we graduate. Ultimately, the lesson learned gives us something to have and to hold. A heart wrenching divorce leads us to pour out our soul on the page, put it to a diddy…and the love song “Against All Odds” is born, launching a successful pop music career as Phil Collins (true story). Lead turns to gold. We gain a skill for life. But we don’t know about that till later.

Still a crisis of faith is an appropriate response to Saturn, and a human one. You’re drawn back upon your resources, exactly where you need to be. No one can do the work but you; no one will save you but you. You muster everything you have inside you. Maybe you take a risk by standing up in front of the crowd risking ridicule and judgment, or maybe you buckle down and study Spanish every night till midnight. Whatever your lesson, it feels impossible, like climbing Mt. Everest, solo. Yes, the solitary journey is about that comfortable: your climbing partners are no longer with you, and with minimal gear or support you’re working your way up the side of an icy mountain. Whether you pass or fail isn’t the point. Whether the newspapers laud your journey or you die on the side of the cliff doesn’t matter. You persist to stay in integrity with your Maker, to live on purpose. You persist because you must.

And then instead of getting schooled by Saturn, you master Saturn.

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