“Think of a situation that takes up considerable time and energy,” Jeff Imbach said to the participants at the Living from the Heart intensive last week. We were at Rivendell Retreat Center on Bowen Island, sitting in a circle, opening to God who is with us in our everyday lives.
Jeff explained, “For example, the situation could be a co-worker or family member who is driving you crazy, a task that is tiresome and boring, a feeling of insecurity about a job. Close your eyes and notice how you respond to this experience? What are your first feelings, your first thoughts? Fear, anger, blame, analysis, fixing, judging?”
What came to my mind was the previous morning. I had a number of jobs to do before I left for Living from the Heart but felt anxious about one in particular. I had to submit my book Seed Cracked Open to be published. Pressing PUBLISH evoked a feeling of panic.
“Take a few moments to simply be with the situation from deep within yourself without thinking, judging, interpreting, or blaming, ” Jeff said. “What surfaces for you as you get beyond the thoughts and emotional responses to the situation? What physiological responses emerge–warmth, churning stomach, fear, pleasure?”
I pictured myself working at the computer. I hate being rushed for time. I recalled the unyielding tension in my throat, chest and arms. I felt it again sitting in the room as Jeff continued.
“Be with that response for a moment. Allow it to rise up in you. In this moment, you are engaged with the experience directly. Stay in that engagement.”
I felt like I was being squeezed into something that was getting smaller and smaller. I wanted to put it off and relieve the tension. But the book launch was set, and if I waited until after I got home again, my books might not arrive on time.
Fear. Panic. What if I missed something important? What if something goes wrong, and I get a shipment of books I’m disappointed with? What if people don’t like it or don’t care about it?
“Now, go deeper,” Jeff said, “until you are awake and aware. You know what you are thinking, you feel your reactive emotional responses (either positive or afflictive), but you are no longer consumed or controlled by the situation or your responses to it. You no longer need to deny it, conceptualize about it, or react to it. You are simply there with it and in it but not overwhelmed by it.”
As I became aware of my fears, a ribbon of space wove in between those feelings and my experience of pressing the key. In that space, I saw what God saw.
My “baby” was being born. She was coming into the world vulnerable, fragile and beautiful. I felt a sense of wonder and joyful responsibility.
“In that place open your heart to God’s loving presence deep within you, at the core of your being and rest there,” Jeff said.
I rested with this picture of God and me, proud parents of our new baby. With curiosity and delight, I wondered what was ahead for her on this journey. How would she be received? How will the world be different now that she has arrived?
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
the days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
–Psalm 139:14-16 (The Message)
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Here’s my baby. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) hopes to make it available on Amazon next week. The book launch will be Friday, November 15 at 7:30 at St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church, 9887 Cameron Street, Burnaby, BC. If you’d like to come, please let me know. I’d love to see you there. Copies of Seed Cracked Open and Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim will be available for sale. I will read a few stories from my new book and tell you about my adventures on her journey from conception to birth.
Fred read Seed Cracked Open over one last time before I submitted it to KDP. He says, she’s a keeper.
You will find more about her here.