Birthing the World Anew
First Edition, February 7th, 2017
This week we’re exploring how we can build creativity and generativity in our work. This is a difficult time for many of us, as we’re confronted with what can feel like the darkness of a tomb. How can we reimagine that darkness? And find ourselves powerfully within this moment, able to respond fully with courage and moral clarity?
Sikh activist, Valarie Kaur, invites us to think of this darkness not as the darkness of a tomb, but as the darkness of a womb. Click here to watch a video of Valerie's full message.
Then, consider, what is waiting to be birthed in you, in us, in our country? Knowing it will be painful, it will be full of mystery, and more worthwhile than we can even fathom. What can we birth together in and through love?
Below you’ll find poetry, prayer, and more around this theme of generativity as birthing ourselves and the world anew.1 Sign up to receive this bi-weekly dose of renewal in your inbox by filling out this short form.
May you find all that you need to honor the creative source within you today.
Listen and ask, what is unfolding in me?
By Monica Trinidad, a queer, latinx artist, activist, and organizer born and raised on the southeast side of Chicago. Monica is also a co-founder of the For the People Artists Collective.
Sapphire, diamond, emerald, quartz:
think of every hard thing
that carries its own brilliance,
shining with the luster that comes
only from uncountable ages
in the earth, in the dark,
buried beneath unimaginable weight,
bearing what seemed impossible,
bearing it still.
And you, shouldering the grief
you had thought so solid, so impermeable,
the terrible anguish
you carried as a burden
who can say what day it happened?—
See how the sorrow in you
slowly makes its own light,
how it conjures its own fire.
See how radiant
even your despair has become
in the grace of that sun.
Did you think this would happen
by holding the weight of the world,
by giving in to the press of sadness
I tell you, this blazing in you—
it does not come by choosing
the most difficult way, the most daunting;
it does not come by the sheer force
of your will.
It comes from the helpless place in you
that, despite all, cannot help but hope,
the part of you that does not know
how not to keep turning
toward this world,
to keep turning your face
toward this sky,
to keep turning your heart
toward this unendurable earth,
knowing your heart will break
but turning it still.
I tell you,
this is how the stars
get in your bones.
This is how the brightness
makes a home in you,
as you open to the hope that burnishes
every fractured thing it finds
and sets it shimmering,
a generous light that will not cease,
no matter how deep the darkness grows,
no matter how long the night becomes.
Still, still, still
the secret of secrets
keeps turning in you,
kindling the luminous way
by which you will emerge,
carrying your shattered heart
like a constellation within you,
singing to the day
that will not fail to come.
Below you’ll find an excerpt from a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. Here, King writes about our call to be Transformed Nonconformists which feels particularly relevant today as we seek to build resiliency in the face of the normalization of the current administration. This is written in a Christian context, but we hope you’ll find it useful no matter your faith tradition.
After you read consider, what does being a transformed non-conformist that look like for me? What does it mean to be truly spiritually transformed so that my work in the world brings reconciliation, not further division?
Transformed Non-Conformist, Sermon by Martin Luther King Jr.
Only through an inner spiritual transformation do we gain the strength to fight vigorously the evils of the world in a humble and loving spirit. The transformed nonconformist, moreover, never yields to the passive sort of patience that is an excuse to do nothing. And this very transformation saves him (or her) from speaking irresponsible words that estrange without reconciling and from making hasty judgments that are blind to the necessity of social progress. (They) recognize that social change will not come overnight, yet work as though it is an imminent possibility.
This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists. Our planet teeters on the brink of atomic annihilation; dangerous passions of pride, hatred, and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; truth lies prostrate on the rugged hills of nameless calvaries; and men (and women) do reverence before false gods of nationalism and materialism. The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.
Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or having a six-year-old daughter ask, “Daddy, why do you have to go to jail so much?” But we are gravely mistaken to think that Christianity protects us from the pain and agony of mortal existence. Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear. To be a Christian, one must take up (their) cross, with all of its difficulties and agonizing and tragedy-packed content, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through suffering.
In these days of worldwide confusion, there is a dire need for women and men who will courageously do battle for truth. We must make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity and respectability, or will we, listening to the beat of a more distant drum, move to its echoing sounds? Will we march only to the music of time, or will we, risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of eternity?
More than ever before, we are today challenged by the words of yesterday, 'Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.'
1 This articulation of generativity as birthing ourselves and the world anew was developed by Sara Wilhelm Garbers at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.