Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Life Unravels, There Comes a Time to Pick Up the Threads

Weaving and Reweaving the Story of Creation

Our deepest emotional need, no matter what our circumstances, is to feel seen and heard, to have our experience witnessed by others and to see and hear theirs—to become visible to each other. This is how we step out of the tight web of circumstances life and into the infinite web of existence. This is how we nourish resilience.

All the difficulty has in reality been a preparation for this breakthrough truth: All is well. Something must die so that something can live.

We can learn from the natural world that change is inevitable; it is difficult like birth; miracles and epiphanies come in the valley of the shadow, not in the meadows. Just when all seems lost, breakthrough happens. Something new comes forth.

As we share our stories, we tell a new story into being. And just as our ancestors have for eons, we can learn from the natural world how to tell creation stories.

Several Native American tribes have as their creation myth the vision of a woman as the creator of the world. According to the myth, Spider Woman began her many creations by spinning and singing, first creating the universe in four directions, then the sun, moon, and stars, which immediately banished darkness from the world. And finally she created all living beings, binding them to her with threads. She is always spinning, always creating, always pulling in the wayward thread to make a thrilling new pattern.[1]

Many modern scientists now embrace the ancient wisdom that everything in existence is interconnected. One especially beautiful retelling of this story can be found in philosopher and environmental activist David Abrams’ book The Spell of the Sensuous.            Taking shelter from a storm deep within a Bali rain forest, he became conscious of the presence of another being in that encapsulated space between safety and the pelting rain: a spider spinning a delicate web across the cave opening. Slowly and methodically, it spun toward the center, radiated out from the center, climbed back up the silken thread to spin another toward the center, radiating out, climbing back. Suddenly, a driving wind blew the web apart. The scientist saw nothing.

Until he saw the spider beginning again.

After some time, he realized that there was another spider, spinning its own web, disconnected from the first, yet intersecting with it. As his eyes became more sensitized to the dark, he saw many spiders, each spinning its own web over the cave opening. “Suddenly I realized,” he writes, “that there were many overlapping webs coming into being…. I sat stunned and mesmerized before this ever-complexifying expanse of living patterns upon patterns, my gaze drawn like a breath into one converging group of lines, then breathed out into open space, then drawn down into another convergence. The curtain of water had become utterly silent—I tried at one point to hear it but could not. My senses were entranced. I had the distinct impression that I was watching the universe being born, galaxy upon galaxy.”

When dawn came and he awoke to a sun-bright new day, he could find no trace of the webs, nor of their weavers. For ever after, he has retained an awe of these creatures as instructors in the intelligence of the non-human universe.[2]

Nature -- a course in miracles. When we tell our story, we merge with a larger, ever-evolving one, spinning a new collective reality into being, engaged in an eternal process of transformation: as Abram writes, “the perpetual emerging of the world from an incipient, indeterminate state into a full, waking reality, from invisibility to visibility, from the secret depths of silence into articulate song and speech.”[3]

Copyright, 2014, Juliet Bruce, Ph.D. (from A Write of Passage, in progress). Use of this material without written permission is prohibited.

[1] Charlotte Kuchinsky, “The Myth of Spiderwoman.” http://voices.yahoo.com/the-native-american-myth-spider-woman-502058.html
[2] David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p. 17.
[3] Abram, p. 169.