Behind every sacred encounter is the potential of the invisible becoming visible. Staying invisible brings a deeper sanctity to the moment. When I was at school, there was a tendency in our rituals to explain everything, I used to call it sledge hammer theology, nothing was left to chance or the imagination. A lack of explanation enables mystery and surprise to take their own course, just as a dozen different people will interpret a piece of art with no reference to the artist’s description or knowledge of the artist’s intention, we can all discover for ourselves what might lie hidden for one person is visible to another.
This week, mosquitos have been feasting on me. I do not see them until I have an inflamed bump and the histamines in my body are racing around and send me loud, irritating, soreness and itching. I cannot see the mozzie’s saliva that has set this all off and while I am not worried about malaria or dengue fever, I am in awe of the way this little insect can completely distract me from anything else. I have recalled, more than once, this week, the quote attributed to the Dalai Lama: If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.
You are never too small to make a difference, and this has taken on new meaning in my life, in the arrival of a very prem granddaughter. She was born as 2021 ended and her mother and father describe the experience as “crash landing into parenthood”. She achieved a milestone this week by weighing in at 1kg. Every hour she reaches her potential, and I am reflecting regularly on what if we all reached our potential every hour what an amazing contribution, we would all be making to the world. The sanctity of life overwhelming me once again in this precious soul. All life is sacred and all of life is sacred, although the mosquitos are constantly under threat from my deadly intentions towards them.
There is no time to put off what we can be, and bring, to the world. There is the exchange of our breath with the breath of others, the saliva of the mosquito insisting to be noticed, the dawn arriving consistently to invite us to live to the fullest, day after day. As the poet John O’Donoghue writes, we are invited to new frontiers on a landscape not yet mapped by us but waiting for us to take the walk and risk ourselves in it.
I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Waves of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
On the Feast of the Epiphany, when the kings come bearing gifts, we receive a photo of her. I keep returning to the photo, I draw strength and get lessons. She is already giving us instruction on tenacity, trust, vulnerability, and hope. I meditate on her image and long for the day we will be in the same place, and we can reach out to each other.
My day is stilled by coming back to her image. I can recognise her father’s nose on her face and her mother’s hair on her head. Her eyes are open, but not yet ready to see.I’m intuiting her stare as a glare, alongside a canula worthy of an ant on life support. Her mother’s fingernail covering a quarter of her chest. There are contraptions about her, leading to and from her, not visible in the photo. I can see a yellow wire, a positive jumper lead, monitoring her teeny heart which is doing its absolute best to pump blood around the growing body, enabling more neurones to grow each day. Behind those eyes, more synapses are forming, patterning love mediated by machines. There are doses of carefully curated, medicinally dispensed connections, offering mutual healing to parents and child. There is no gold, frankincense or myrrh, there is the more precious treasure, skin-to-skin contact.
You are never too small to make a difference, and you can be visible or invisible to make that difference. I am trusting my, invisible to her, invocations, incantations, candles, prayers, and devotions, are contributing in some way to holding her, while my arms can’t.