The last Sunday of Advent focuses on birthing. There’s the literal sense of Mary birthing Jesus into the world, and the spiritual sense of the Divine entering into Life, joining with all of creation.
Richard Rohr talks about Jesus’ birth being the second incarnation, that Christ first entered the world through creation. The Bible says that Christ is in all. Jesus, more than simply the human man, is Christ, is God, and is the Word that was in the beginning, before anything else existed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this, that Christ is in all. It sounds so “new agey” to me, and yet the Bible is full of passages that discuss this. “The kingdom of God is within you.” I’ve felt a bit like a faulty lighter recently, sparking and flickering and almost catching flame. I keep getting these tiny glimpses of connectedness.
Yesterday, I was doing yoga at a beautiful cathedral, staring up at the colorful glass that was glowing with the early sunset while I was in down dog. At the end, the instructor had everyone Om together three times. The first Om felt a bit forced, unnatural. But as I sank into the moment and went with it fully, in the second Om, I could feel my lungs vibrating on the same frequency as everyone in the room. The same frequency echoing through the universe from the big bang that started it all. Us all. A glimpse.
Christianity speaks about being “born again.” That phrase has gotten a bit used and abused, become a token prayer to get someone a ticket out of hell. It’s such a sad, limited and limiting short-sightedness to look at Jesus’ life that way. His birth as a messy, hungry little baby, coming into the world at an inopportune time, into a occupied land. His three decades on this Earth, living and loving and serving, totally upending the religious status quo of his culture, the political status quo, interpersonal status quos. And ultimately, his death, giving up his life out of deep, deep love for all creation, for all people. Not simply as a ticket out of hell, not because we are all so deprived and sinful and have pissed God off and need Jesus to step in between as savior. But “because God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son.”
I get born again every time I read a good book. I got born again at yoga yesterday. I get born again after profound conversations with my friends and husband. I get born again when I live fully in the moment with my children, seeing the absolute love, trust, and awe in their eyes as they encounter the world by my side. I am constantly getting born again, constantly growing and changing and shedding my old flesh for new. It’s so gross to know that we literally shed our skin cells and are essentially a new person every 100 days. But seriously, life is constantly on the move.
Birth is messy, painful, inconvenient, dangerous, and hard. I pushed my daughter out for over two hours; it was fricken hard. I battle-cried my son out in three fell swoops, but then I hemorrhaged and needed emergency surgery and multiple blood transfusions. Physical birth may be easier than emotional, mental, and spiritual rebirth. It hurts to realize that you need to grow, that you are incomplete or not fully informed and need to radically adjust your worldview. Giving birth is tough work, but always worth the payoff.
I will keep pondering this idea of connectedness, of Christ in ALL, of the kingdom of God being within me. Within you. Within nature, within Muslims and Jews and Hindus. Within immigrants and politicians and stock brokers. Within environmental lobbyists and oil industry CEOs. Within Peace corps volunteers and NFL players. Within kind hearted nurses and insurance companies. My birth is continual, sometimes messy, sometimes painful, occasionally full of an otherworldly bliss that saturates it all.