Giving birth has always been a powerful metaphor for me. Not that I relate it to physical pregnancy, but since I started awakening, 20 years ago now, in my early thirties, I could feel the creative element in life moving within me, making me something new.
I'm listening to Jennifer Berezan's CD, "Returning." She chants throughout: returning, returning, returning to the Mother of us all... This music is haunting, smoky, with rhythms that sink to the beginning of time itself.
She recorded the music is a subterranean temple/tomb used by the Neolithic people of Malta. The 3-level labyrinth has 33 chambers, stairs, passageways, all carved out of the limestone with flint and antler tools. Some of the chambers, 5.25 meters beneath the surface, are egg shaped. Maybe now you can begin to imagine the haunting quality of this elegant sound.
Our local public radio station aired an interview yesterday with a scientist who is using DNA markers to track human populations movements on the earth back from the beginning of our existence on this planet. The rhythms in this CD are like that...ancient, fundamental, like oceans and molten earth flowing together. This scientist said he can track all humanity back to one place on the earth and then reconstruct how groups broke off and spread across the globe. But the point is that we emerged from one, we are all connected, we are one family with so little variation in our DNA that it is easy to see the truth of how gender and race are truly constructed categories of difference. Not differences that should matter much or cause such destruction. Well, I digress.
The idea and experience of giving birth, moving into and creating the new, is so freeing, so simultaneously powerful and humbling. Yet listening to this CD I realize how moving into the new is also a return, a return to the mother of us all. I first heard this CD during a spiritual direction group about 3 weeks ago. As I listened, the image of a cave came to me, a cave with water lapping up against it, and you can hear someone breathing, rhythmically. Womb-like, it feels . . . not sure exactly.
In his Journey of the Magi, T.S. Eliot asked, Is it birth or is it death?
The threat of non-being has sent existential jolts of terror through me in recent years. The possibility of consciousness not surviving has, for short moments in my life, paralyzed me. But then I read Eliot, or I listen to this CD, and I sense the truth of birth and death being of a piece, interwoven such that only the most crass and shallow questioning can separate them.
Returning...returning...returning to the Mother of Us All.
May it be so.