This week I had the amazing privilege of being present (although we were on opposite sides of the country) at the birth of a baby girl. And then the delight of connecting with her and her mother a few days after they returned home from the hospital where she was born.

I’m still awe-struck by the incredible power, beauty and sacredness of that moment, when this new being first incarnated into her earthly body. To see a soul in all its radiance, as yet undimmed by the necessary container of the life that it will shape, and be shaped by, is to witness the Sacred in a moment of breathtaking intimacy.

And to see her again, a scant four days after her monumental entry into this world, gave me the rare opportunity to witness the first handfuls of earth that form the foundation of the life that she will build — with the help of her family, her community, and each and every one of us who contribute to the world she has just stepped into with her perfect little feet.

Her mother is deeply engaged in the sacred task of birthing and nurturing this baby, who is both a powerful, limitless soul, and so utterly vulnerable, so dependent for everything on the people who love her. Landing on this earth is not an easy transition to make, and today, this baby was overwhelmed by the newness of her surroundings, including her own body, which at the moment is a foreign land.

She is also vulnerable to the onslaught of attention from all the people in her life who love her and want to see her and hold her and welcome her into the world. So she escapes into sleep, and hangs out with her soul friends, those non-physical beings who are her closest companions, and who have supported her in choosing and then traveling to this incarnation. It will take her time, and a growing feeling of safety, to land in her body.

In many ways, the process that she’s engaged in right now — the experiences that she has and the ways in which she copes with them — will leave a lasting imprint on her life. To witness these processes at work at their very origins is to see the origins of our own adult patterns of connection and disconnection, of radiance and dimming, of opening out into our lives and contracting away from them.

If we are fortunate, we will have, as our first caregivers, women and men who not only love and adore us, but who understand both our sovereignty and our vulnerability. Who honor and see us for who we really are — the Sacred made incarnate — and who also honor and guard our vulnerability, our need for seclusion, until we are able to land more solidly in our own skin.

This baby’s mother is a wise and loving woman. She will give her daughter the precious gifts of recognition, protection, nurturance, and abiding love at the very start of her life, when she needs them most.

And yet, the essential needs of the newborn are ones that we all share. For love, acknowledgement, warmth, attention, nurturance, respect, sovereignty, tenderness.

We are, each of us, flowers that bloom from the heart of the Beloved, whose light shines within us and illuminates our world. And we are much more vulnerable than we care to acknowledge; dependent in every way. On the air we breathe; on the water that is our first element; on the earth that supports us; on the love and kindness and work and prayers of people around the world, most of whom we’ll never meet, but without whom we would have neither food nor warmth nor the shelter of the human family.

We have so much to be grateful for. And we ourselves are expressions of life’s gratitude for us. For our brave willingness to shine our light. For the commitment that we make to being the face of the Beloved for our daughters and sons, our mothers and fathers, our lovers and friends and neighbors.

I am so thankful for each of you, and for the light that you shine in our world. May you be blessed. May you continue to be a blessing.