By Claire Blatchford
Ed and I were pretty excited when we first became grandparents nine years ago. And the excitement hasn’t lessened as three more grandchildren have joined our family. Though each arrival has been a story in itself, there seems to be a common tune. All arrived early, up to two weeks before their due date. All experienced some bumps either on the way here or for awhile after landing. And, despite that, all responded in the same affirmative way to the welcome they received. Perhaps the tune could be called, “Hey, everybody, I’m here!”
For our first granddaughter the “bumps” had to do with her environment: there was a fire in the apartment her family lived in shortly after she was born. Then her mother took a job in another town and mother and daughter had to be apart during the week for some months until the whole family could be together again. Our second granddaughter had to wear casts on both legs for eight weeks, then a bar between her legs at night for up to a year to straighten her legs out of the curve they’d settled into when in the womb. Our third granddaughter had to come via C-section after her heart rate faltered. Then, less than a week later, she ran a fever that put her back in the hospital for two weeks because of a meningitis scare. The fourth grandchild—our grandson—had—and still has—this unbelievable appetite. And he’s not the least bit plump. His dad is 6’7”, his mom 6’1” which may explain the amount of growing he’s likely headed into. During his first year his parents were up at all hours of the night to feed him. We still joke about his “hollow” leg having to be be filled promptly and completely.
Yet, despite the bumps-- maybe even because of them-- I’ll never forget meeting, truly meeting, each child eye to eye as I held them in my arms during their first or second week. I’ve experienced this with other newborns too, so please don’t assume this is just another doting grandmother speaking here. (Though I’ll readily admit I am a doting grandmother!)
If you have met and held the gaze of a newborn, or a baby, you will know what I’m talking about. This experience can move—even shake-- you to your core. Who is this soul looking right at you, into you, through you as though sizing you up? A new born can look not only very new born but actually quite ancient. Tiny physical size and young age-- as we’re accustomed to counting them in days and hours-- suddenly evaporate before the mystery of incarnation. It’s as though wisdom and love in the steady, curious, unperturbed gaze of this little one are reaching out to touch, even finger, the world it has chosen to enter. And some times there’s been more than just a meeting and a greeting. On occasion I’ve felt the arriving soul asking, “Can I trust you?” Not me, specifically, but humanity as a whole.
Recently, when remembering this calm, penetrating, yet always “bright” look which I saw in the eyes of our grandchildren when they were babies, I was reminded of something David Spangler said when speaking of the incarnational process:
"Much as the nuclear processes at the core of a star cause it to give off heat and light, so the incarnational processes within the embodied soul…..naturally give off a quality of spiritual radiance I call our “Self-Light.” In a sense, this is a spiritual force indigenous to the incarnate realm. It’s not coming from a transpersonal level (though there are qualities and currents of Light that do come to us from such “higher” dimensions); it is produced, generated and emerging right here in our midst within the physical world. In effect, we are each like stars, producing our own radiance, rather than like planets that have to reflect the radiance of others. We are each generative sources." (from Surfing a Wave of Conflict forum, Spring 2016)
The star-like quality is really there though our grandchildren don’t look at me the way they did when new born. By “brightness” and “star-like” I don’t mean “smart”, “clever”, “unusual” or “superior.” I’m speaking rather of how the radiance I saw shining in their eyes when we first met eye to eye, is now shining not just in their faces but in their bodies. The stellar brightness David describes is being generated by their movements, actions, explorations, ongoing discovery of language, others, self, indeed, the whole world both near and far. This energy has so many forms and colors.
Take the determination of the 2.4 year old who recently pulled a chair over to the kitchen counter, climbed onto it, got the car keys from his mother’s pocketbook, went out to the car, got in, and put the keys in the ignition!
Take the independence of the soon to be 3 year old who insists on dressing, eating, climbing, pretend-writing, pretend-swimming, and racing on ahead, all by herself. No faltering heart beat there!
Take the kindness of the 5 year old who laboriously wrote her name and her mother’s name within a heart shape. Then colored and folded the heart and solemnly gave it to her mother to take on the business trip her mother didn’t want to go on.
Or the exuberance of the 9 year old upon completing a challenging climb up one of the highest mountains in New Hampshire.
These are just a few examples of some of the bright qualities we see in them. I hear them as variations on the tune, “Hey, everybody I’m here!” Sure our grandchildren whine and have melt downs. Sure, I wish they’d stop grabbing at the dog’s tail, would sometimes walk and talk a bit more softly, especially at 5 AM, would dare to eat more than familiar old macaroni and cheese. Sure, I’m always happy when they arrive at our house and often exhausted when they depart. It’s hard work keeping up with a young star!
But here’s the thing I never cease to marvel at: they have come in these dark and difficult times. I am certain that all over the world you can find them, recognize them, meet them. And in meeting them meet your deepest hopes for the future of our world. They have chosen to incarnate, they want to be here. What can one say but, Welcome! Thank you for coming! We need you!
How do we use the principles of Incarnational Spirituality to engage these turbulent social and political times?From October 2-8 join Lorian Facilitators David Spangler and James Tousignant for Standing in the Eye: Creating Calmness in a Season of Storms. This week-long forum will provide practical exercises and approaches for conscious engagement during this election season. For more information or to register click here.