This past week has been a swirl and whoosh of such delight! After three long, pandemic years, my whole family was here in my home — both my sons and their partners, my 11-year-old granddaughter, and 5-month-old grandbaby whom I met for the first time this week.
Being with an entirely new-to-the-world little person has been a masterclass on sovereignty in action.
On the one hand, because she is still so young, my granddaughter is utterly dependent — on her parents and family, on all of us who love her — for everything from nourishment to locomotion. Her very survival depends on the care and tending she receives from us and from the natural world. This care is shaping her biology and her rapidly growing nervous system every moment of every day.
She is picked up, fed, cradled, swaddled, held, rocked, swayed, cooed at, sung to, jiggled, carried here and there in her baby seat, in her stroller, on her dad’s shoulders, in her mom’s arms.
Where she goes, and when, and how, must seem entirely arbitrary to her, determined by forces beyond her control. On the surface, she appears about as sovereign as a loaf of bread.
But sovereignty is an inner quality of being.
My granddaughter meets every experience with a solemn, alert attentiveness. She expresses her feelings freely and fully the moment they arise, her whole little body responding to whatever captures her attention. She frowns, sucks on her lower lip when she’s unhappy; babbles in her own inimitable language; opens her mouth wide to explore, through taste and touch, whatever catches her eye. She squawks in protest when she’s hungry or tired; leans way out of her dad’s arms to snatch at the glint of sunlight on a leaf; smiles a secret smile at who-knows-what delight.
She doesn’t aim to please or provoke; she acts only on the truth of her own experience.
This is sovereignty in action. We are all born with this quality within us.
Having just arrived from the realm of spirit into our world, she brings the raw power of divinity into our midst. Her presence here is both startling and wondrous — like meeting a lion or a gryphon in my living room. We are her acolytes, puddles of besotted love, devoted to her tiny self, eager to serve her magical life. She stirs in us the remembrance of truths we once knew and did not know we had lost. The world comes alive in the aliveness of her gaze.
This is the creative enchantment that lies just under the skin of our world. At one time, each of us made that journey from other dimensions to this one. Each of us arrived, as magical as a unicorn, carrying within us the glory of which we are made, and the promise of renewal that our presence gifts to our world.
Throughout our lives, we remain as vulnerable, as creative and curious, as receptive, exuberant, present and powerful, as intricately woven into the life of the world as my baby granddaughter.
Life batters us, however, until we lose our sovereign shape, lose sight of who we are. The wellsprings of our curiosity, of our joy, get buried under the debris of the world’s sorrows, and the keening of our own dismembered hearts.
To protect ourselves, we build labyrinths and walls; imprison ourselves and others in mansions, churches, malls; masquerade in masks designed to please, placate, pretend, intimidate.
We defend and submit, manipulate and mould, push and perform, label and are labelled. We pretzel ourselves into neon shapes; we become unrecognisable to ourselves, unknowable to our world. We exsanguinate our souls in a desolation of disconnection, loneliness and loss.
And yet…that powerful love that brought us here is as undeniable as the wind.
If you’re reading this, chances are, you are making, or have made this journey back to yourself, perhaps many times over. You’re dancing or strolling or stumbling home to your wild and sovereign, beautifully interconnected, radiantly human, creatively wonderful being.
I wish you a joyous season of love and renewal, a return to your miraculous, essential, irreplaceable being. May you always know and treasure the gift that you are, the jewel that is your life. May you celebrate and be celebrated, dear friends, today and every day!
Let there be cake!