Meister Eckhart, a theologian and mystic in the 14th century, has said, “What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to [Jesus] fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to [Him] in my time and in my culture? We are all meant to be Mary.” We are all called to birth the holy in the midst of our ordinary, everyday lives. To birth the holy right here and right now. To participate in this kingdom where heaven meets earth, just like it did when the Spirit hovered over the waters in Genesis to bring forth all of creation, just like it did when the Spirit hovered over a young peasant girl Mary to bring forth God’s son. And just like the Spirit is hovering over us in the darkness, in the uncertainty, in the unknown, to bring forth God’s purposes in us.
And yet we know that birthing is not tidy a process. It is messy with lots of unknowns along the way. Birthing the holy demands that we release control and let the journey take us where it will. For those of us who have experienced childbirth, we know this. The best thing we can do is to surrender to the process. This is a practice of cultivating trust in the organic unfolding of our lives. If we make space to listen to the deep desires of our hearts and follow them, not knowing exactly where they will take us, we may find ourselves being led to something beyond our own imaginations into something truly beautiful. We experience “birthing pains” because there is a physical and spiritual stretching apart as we make way for an unfurling of new life into the world. The poet David Whyte writes “What you can plan is too small for you to live.” The real adventure of life begins when we release our own plans and allow ourselves to birth what is being brought forth within us.
And this is exactly the process we have been in as a community. I do believe that God is birthing something in us. We’ve been talking about a new birth, a new season for our community beginning in the new year which would be re-launch or replant our little faith community in a new time and new place in January. And we had some plans about how that was going to happen. And yet, now I can see that perhaps our plans were too small. And so we lean into all the unknown of new beginnings and trust that God is leading us forward.
And of course, our inclination is that we want to skip to the good stuff—to the new baby in our arms or to the songs of rejoicing as we proclaim, “Joy to the World!” -- to see what it is we’ve been waiting and longing for. We want to avoid the labor pains. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the way it works. Whatever God is birthing in us never comes without the season of gestation, the surrender to the unknown, the wrestling and pushing until something beautiful is born. Over the last eight months, there has been much uncertainty, much unknown. Many of us have wondered and wrestled, what the heck is God doing? And I know that many of you are still currently in this season. Wondering what God is up to in your lives. But as with all birth, our best efforts to try and control or force the process seem futile until that beautiful thing that is always such a mystery reaches the light and takes its first holy breath.
And so I believe that God is birthing something in us, and that we as a community are being reborn. But it is God’s work. And there is a letting go, a surrendering to the process, an anticipation, and the surprise and unexpected nature of the kingdom. And so we will wait and hope and dream together. Just like Mary, we bear the Divine, giving birth to the Holy within our ordinary lives in an effort to bring Hope, Light, and Life to the world.
by Jessica Ketola