Throughout history, story has been used as a way to illustrate or illuminate certain truths about what it is to “be a spiritual being having a human experience.” Although, in the ultimate sense our humanness and our spiritual-ness are not seperate, at times our experience is one of separation. And so story, parable, myth, and so on can point us back to what we know to be true about ourselves in the deepest sense. In honor of the birth of this blog, I share with you a birth story told by my 7 year old daughter, Lyra and retold by me below. Children are wonderful teachers and I would be remiss if I did not attribute half of my so-called wisdom to my two daughters mere presence in my life. As you listen to this tale, I invite you to listen to both the human struggle of separation and the crisp obviousness of Spirit’s presence.
In Your Belly
The room is dark. Lyra and I are snuggled up together in her bed. She is attempting to burrow into my body, “I want to get as close to you as I can,” she declares, her body wiggling fervently, futilely, to permeate the boundary of my skin. At times like this, I can sense that no amount of physical closeness can match the longing for intimacy that Lyra feels, like a silent scream, in her very cells. Unsuccessful, she flops onto her back.
“I remember what it was like to be in your belly, Mom.”
It is late, long past the time when Lyra is usually asleep.
“Do you want to tell me more about it?”
I feel the excited smile radiate from the little body that is only a shadow in the darkness.
“ Well, I was in your belly and I remember that this was where I belonged. I didn’t know exactly where I was in your belly, but I knew that this was my home…. Well, I couldn’t really think that, but I knew that it was true. And I could push like this (she holds her hands in little fists and kneads the air) and when I would knock against your belly, ‘Hello, who’s there?’ and I would push—that felt like I was playing. And I could see… it was like when you close your eyes and it’s light outside and you can see different colors—red, orange, yellow—bright!—and then black, like now, when there is no light, and blue and green. And it felt sort of smooth, like the way it felt to touch my boo-boo (Lyra had skinned her knee and she had touched the bloody area with antibiotic ointment on it when we were attending to the wound); it felt the way a slug feels but not sticky, smooth. I could see the opening to the tunnel I was going to come out of too. It was this big (she made an “O” shape with both hands), or maybe this big (she narrowed the diameter of her “O”). And I saw it and then I dropped. There were sounds—rustle, rustle, rustle. There were people around. Well, I couldn’t really hear them, but it was like when we are at Grandma’s house and I can hear the people talking on the radio downstairs in the exercise room, but the door is closed and all I hear is just, “Waaw, waaw, waaw.” It was like that. I also heard some screaming… hmm, maybe it was some kids outside. I don’t know. Well, when I heard the rustling sound I thought, “Hey! Maybe I’m going to come out now!!” But I didn’t really think it because I couldn’t think, of course, but I knew this because I had a mind and my heart told me, the light bulb in my heart told me. And I wriggled. Well, I had to wriggle to get out!”
“And how did you feel when you got out?”
“Well, when I was all wrapped in a blanket and in Mommy’s arms or Daddy’s arms, I felt confused. I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t like it. I didn’t know that I was going to be here forever.”
We both contemplated this for a moment.
“Then life happened and here I am.” She said with finality. “How did you feel, Mommy, when I was born?”
“I felt amazed, Lyra, amazed that you existed at all.”
“That’s silly! Of course I existed. What do you mean!?”
“I don’t know. Just amazed. I still feel that way all that time. I’m just amazed that you are.”
Lyra rolls over and, within one minute, has left this story behind and entered sleep.
For your contemplation: In what ways do you give birth to yourself, your identity, again and again? How have you been guided by “the lightbulb in your heart?”
Recommendation: Try, for a few hours, invoking a sense of awe about anything and everything in your life: your car, the bread of your sandwich, the sunlight through the window, the itch on your knee.