Mary McCollum is a psychotherapist who has been working with groups interested in Creation Spirituality. She lives in Seattle.
PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY to hear and be fascinated by a story that provides a knowledge of origins, that includes science as well as meaning, that combines knowledge and wisdom. I know this has been true for me.
As with so many others who are currently sensing the deep shift in our cultural patterns and human consciousness, I’ve explored the teachings of numerous enlightened teachers, depth psychology, etc., but have been frustrated with the lack of information dealing with the symbolic whole. Many of those who are working with whole systems and patterns often satisfy the intellectual part of my being, but leave my need for heart satisfaction and ecstatic nourishment unsatisfied. In addition, the language of science and religion have a difficult time crossing the borders of meaning without endless entanglements. Those who have gracefully made the crossing, and entranced and fed me, have been the writers such as Annie Dillard, Lewis Thomas, and Loren Eiseley who struggle with revealed meaning in the physical world. They have given a great gift to those of us who are called to other fields of endeavor, to be able to allure us into the fields of science with as much seduction as a Siren. Once there, we discover vast fields of delight and meaning, which it is then our responsibility to relate to the other fields in which we work and play.
I’ve recently been able to deepen and extend this exploration with the help of people working at the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality (P.O. Box 19216, Oakland, CA 94619), who helped me gain an inclusive understanding of the place of my religious tradition and my cultural and biological origins, in the cosmic scheme of things.
This experience carries two images to me. One is the image of an expanding grid in the Universe, which pushes out borders and boundaries to farther reaches, taking in more and more information as it expands. The other is that of yielding and sinking into the information which already exists throughout creation. Both apply and are appropriate at different times.
But is there an interface between these modes of being, of expansion and yielding, which is represented to me by the differences inherent in information and meaning, in science and spirituality? These are literally different ways of taking in the experience of life, and both are essential for the whole pattern.
In recent months, I’ve found myself faced with the task of articulating this interface as I speak to groups of people primarily involved with the traditional Christian orientation. Many people are asking for more information and more spiritual awareness which speaks to the needs of people in a planetary age. We can no longer pretend we have not moved beyond a mechanistic explanation of the Universe into an understanding of the Universe as one of relationships, not of fixed bodies and things which merely bump into each other. It is a Universe of change and dance, with energies and patterns appearing on the scene with no "logical" explanation. Perhaps our task now becomes one of letting go of our need to control things and outcomes, and to yield to delight and awe. Perhaps we can allow ourselves to be entranced by the wonder of the Universe, and in so yielding find ourselves flooded with new information as water fills a vessel. If we have the capacity to understand every aspect of the miracle of life, does that diminish the mystery or sacredness of it? I suspect it only increases our sense of awe. Would we not then find ourselves again at home in a blessed creation, ready to enlarge our framework on the one hand, and yielding to Mystery on the other? Then there would be no end to the qualities of delight, play, and gratefulness – qualities we are desperately in need of today.
How can we get this story – with its ability to both inform and entrance – out to people quickly before we destroy the earth out of sheer ignorance? Now is the time for us to reclaim our sacred heritage and forgo the limiting role religion has so often played of being moral gatekeepers, set up to control and limit rather than free and delight.
I, among others, can do this by embracing my responsibility to speak out courageously, lovingly, to paint the vision, tell the story of the whole by any means at my disposal. After all, I’ve been encoded by everything that has preceded me in the Universe, beginning with the God-Thought of this original blessing we call life. The effort, the dream, the longing of every cell and organism finds its way to this moment and assaults me with questions. Do I see clearly? Do I love with the intention of the Whole in mind? Does my vision hinder or negate the community? Do I enhance or hinder the environment of which I’m a part? And in responding, I recognize that I’m not separate from any other part, person, event in the world. I’m interacting, responding to every other part. It seems to me that here I meet my religious tradition squarely in the message and person of Jesus Christ. He boldly carried the awareness of blessing, mystery, and relationship, and further, demanded that we wake up to the cosmos, whose binding thread was, and is, love.
As I incarnate the origin moments of the Universe, as I appreciate the gifts of metabolism, sexuality, competition, photosynthesis, self- organizing dynamics, I feel the sense of twoness drop away into Oneness. Then I allow myself to dream the larger dream and be devoured by beauty. As I allow myself to open to the questions posed by the Whole, I am forced to grapple with the daily difficulties and my own lack of awareness. But each step of awareness brings me into greater fullness, and somehow it is the image of yielding to knowledge, yielding to the inherent wisdom and love permeating creation which most forcefully captures and impels me on. What myriad of miracles will reveal themselves if I truly listen, if I deeply ask, "How do I help empower life?" My full being is no less essential and beautiful than the being of the mountain or the tree. We all enable the ripening of the Earth. We are all essential.