The Measure of Our Creation
I can still remember the moment, 20 years ago, when I first glimpsed a baby’s head coming out of my body. It was the only time “Oh My God” has ever come out of my mouth. It was the perfect response to the overwhelming presence of God - in me, in my baby and in the room. It wasn’t the blood or pain that opened my mouth, it was the awe of seeing new life emerge. From me, no less.
When we're awake to it, the feeling of God is inextricably attached to the creation of life, whatever form it takes. Yes it grows babies, but the feeling is there just the same with fresh bread, an extraordinary tennis match, or a symphony. It happens anytime we flow into a richer expression of the god in us, and it always brings a glimpse of possibility out beyond our made-up reality. A favorite phrase from my faith, “filling the measure of our creation,” comes to mind.
For most of my life, I've mistakenly believed that creating pretty much anything other than babies is all on me. All on me to figure out what, when and how, and all on me to make it happen. I guess that's why the idea of creating some "thing" and putting it out into the world has always intimidated the heck out of me, but only a few weeks into the game of “emerging my voice” with eight new friends and Michael Neill, I can already see I've been dead wrong. About pretty much all of it. I’m swimming around in a new question now: “What if my only job is to show up as me, allow whatever wants to be born to come through and, as best I can in each moment, get out of the way?" The feeling of expansion I get hanging out in this pool tells me I’m on to something.
When Michael asked why my greatest fear was speaking extemporaneously, right before I was gonna do it in front of the group, I said, “What if nothing comes out? What if I’m just an empty bag up here?” His reply? “That’s the whole point.” I saw, in that moment, how life actually works. We walk around thinking we’re living life when, really, it’s living us. That fresh, brilliant, infinite energy that buds a million leaves out my kitchen window every spring is the same stuff that breathes our lungs and moves our bones. It’s not only spinning the earth and hatching eggs, It’s making pancakes, going for a run and writing blog posts. Beneath our labyrinth of thinking, it strikes me that all we ever really choose is whether to jam life up and resist it, or open up and let it come through.
By our fifth day together, I was hearing funny, wise, impactful truth come through each of my friends. Without “working on it," we just showed up as ourselves and got in the game, and the emerging happened all on its own. I saw, watching my friends come to life, that we are the car, not the gas or the driver. We don't have to make ourselves go, or figure out when to turn. We can try to force life or a speech to go a certain way, but letting the creativity and intelligence at our core take over is a much more effortless game with infinitely more on offer. I’ve tasted the aliveness that shows up when I take my hands off the wheel, and I'm hooked. There are places I can't yet let go of the wheel, and I still grab it when I’m freaking out about not being in charge or making up scary things about where I’m headed, but the idea of spending all my energy driving a car that can drive itself is starting to seem kinda silly.
What if "filling the measure of our creation” is as simple as being willing to get in the game and be ourselves? If an embryo grows full size just by being itself, with a little love and nourishment, why wouldn't we? It’s not our job to manufacture fingers and toes and glue them on when we think its time. We can work really hard, and I mean really hard, at trying to make ourselves grow and change, but what if the design of life’s already got it handled? What if we really are lilies in a field? What if every single thing we need will show up along the way when and where it perfectly fits, without us having to make it happen?
That's not to say the mystery of life's unfolding isn't sometimes a gooey mess. The cycle of expansion and contraction breathing through all of us can leave us unsettled, especially when we’re about to birth out of confinement into a fuller version of ourselves. But the mess lives in our mind more than anywhere else and, at some point, our vision will clear and we’ll inevitably come back home to ourselves, to the clear and peaceful presence at our core that’s got us 100% of the time. I love the way this looked to Julian of Norwich: “Our up-and-down emotions, from the heights of joy when we sense that our lives are lit up with grace - to the depths of depression when our physical lives seem to press down on us with a repulsive weight, matter little from a spiritual perspective. God’s love and goodness keep us equally safe in our depression as in our joy.” When we glimpse what Julian saw, from a place much deeper than our brain, it has the power to free us from a mountain of suffering, even if we still have eggshell on our face and a whole lot of emerging left to do. But remember? That's not really our job either so, in James Taylor's words, "Try not to try too hard." Whatever's unfolding in you and me is already on its way and is bound to be beautiful.