We are now living through a once-in-an-epoch threshold event in planetary history. While inevitable climate catastrophes “just around the bend” will likely make this current pandemic pale in comparison, it seems coronavirus has catalyzed humanity’s first truly global experience of our essential vulnerability and interdependence. We are traversing a portal in our evolutionary journey as a species, which is certainly and fundamentally changing our collective consciousness and our relationships with each other, the planet, and ourselves. As one friend put it, we are now living in Season One, Episode One of a whole new series.
In this moment of both collective trauma and collective awakening, it is natural to experience a slew of intense and often contradictory feelings. On one hand there is fear, worry, anger, scarcity, greed, and despair, especially among the growing millions who have lost work or (God forbid!) even loved ones and among those experiencing injustices due to income inequality. On the other hand, many are also swelling with a sense of connection, hope, gratitude, wonder, compassion and love, especially among those finding solace in their solitude and refreshing air in their previously polluted cities.
Oh, and did I mention confusion?!
In bewildering times, I often tell myself, “I’d rather be confused than wrong.” To paraphrase Greta Thunberg, let us remember that the “normal” everyone is wanting to return to was actually a crisis! We have been profoundly mistaken in how we have treated each other and the planet. So “confusion,” to me at least, feels like a huge leap forward.
Having been married to a midwife for almost 30 years, I’m also reminded of the process of childbirth and the phase of “transition” where the cervix progresses from seven to ten centimeters, sometimes in less than an hour, and marks the beginning of the baby’s descent. During these rapid changes, the mother often feels shaky and overwhelmed, scared that the task ahead seems utterly impossible. “I can’t do it! Make it stop!” This is the time of grunting, moaning and wailing we so often see depicted in movies.
The wise midwife, in contrast, often feels relief and excitement at this point, knowing the mother’s experience is completely natural; that the baby is about to “crown” and will soon be nursing in its mother’s arms. It’s the home stretch! Furthermore, the mother may feel an intense urge to push, but the midwife explains that it is not time yet, that the cervix needs to dilate fully, and that premature pushing may result in tearing.
So, perhaps, we are now in our collective time of transition. There is suffering and intense pain! A more beautiful world does feel impossible! We feel an extreme urgency to do something — to do more — but are flummoxed as to what would actually make a difference. We want to cry; we want to scream, especially at men for getting us into this predicament! (I notice a guttural “Fuck you Trump!” often pops out of me unexpectedly).
And … if we step back and broaden our field of awareness, we might also feel the delicate tufts of hair of a new (way of) being in our global family. With each contraction, or more accurately each expansion, this being moves two bits forward, one bit back, until suddenly and inevitably, something beautiful emerges that changes everything. It astonishes us with its abrupt realness and our hearts explode with a love we never knew was possible.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that “corona” actually means “crown,” as in the gaseous envelope of our sun that we can see most clearly during a total solar eclipse. Similarly, during birth, the burning sensation of the labia and perineum stretching to its limits is often called the “ring of fire.” Imagine, staring into an eclipse (wearing proper sunglasses of course) and seeing, in the darkness, a birth canal through which a new consciousness is being born. I swear, I’m not on drugs right now.
Seriously though, this is a huge, dare I say cosmic time to be alive. So, let us stretch beyond reason and embrace, or at least accept, the mystery of the moment. Let us cry out in pain for all the suffering and injustice and loss of life in the world. Let us welcome our confusion and our fear. Let us have compassion and deep care for the tearing of the very fabric of our being. And let us slow down and trust the perfect timing and inevitability of what is emerging.
Dreaming into this new being, I imagine an indigenous, Aquarian girl with rainbow hair and fire in her heart. Although born post-term (extremely overdue in fact!) and very weak after a prolonged and arrested labor, she quickly grows into her strong feminine presence, drawn to love, relationships and spiritual transformation rather than power, money, and control. But she is also very much in touch with her masculine side, especially with regards to freedom and technological inventions that support and nourish our developing global being. She is a champion of climate justice and the well-being of all life. She emanates a deep love for our planet as our home which inspires humanity to shift away from duality and self-centered thinking towards a more ecocentric perspective that recognizes our fundamental oneness. She is Mother Earth incarnate, Pachamama made flesh, Gaia embodied.
I imagine this new being in an ecovillage where where empowered citizens are designing and implementing pathways to a regenerative future, where people are striving to live high quality and low impact lifestyles together. Being well ahead of the curve in researching deep adaptations to the coming crises, the global network of sustainable communities may well serve as birth centers for this emerging psyche. William Gibson, the science fiction writer who coined the term “cyberspace” once said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” So, perhaps, ecovillages are like the tiny toes of a footling breech, trying to find solid ground, while also aware that the bulk of its being, especially its head, remains perilously lodged in the birth canal — in danger of asphyxiation and ensnared by old stories of separation and “power over.” Unfortunately, we do not have the possibility of delivering by Cesarean section; there is little hope for a Deux Ex Machina to save us. We have to reach deep into our very being to turn things around. We must find the courage, care, and resiliency to do this naturally, unassisted, and with no precedence to guide us.
Our whole lives, the whole evolution of our species … the planet … the universe … has led us to this new beginning. And here we are! We have the awesome privilege of simultaneously being the birthing mother, the baby, and the midwife in this time of global transition. Yes, it is a painful birth with loads of complications. Our umbilical cord seems wound around our neck and we can barely breathe. The outcome is far from certain. But there’s no going back now. Not only can we do this, we are doing this! We are finally awakening to our fundamental interbeingness with each other and all life. The time has come for us to join the global family.
(Shout out to Monique Gauthier, a homebirth and cultural midwife for co-holding this vision)