It happened during a difficult time. My life had been dismantled; the pieces were strewn all over the place. I was spending a lot of time alone, trying to figure out what had happened and how to begin to reassemble myself.
On this night, I was in my room watching the movie Hotel Rwanda.
The movie aptly illustrates humanity’s potential for depravity by telling a story from the Rwandan genocide of the mid 1990s. On this night, I sat on my bed and stared at the TV, becoming more and more overwhelmed by the obscene way human beings treat each other.
I became aware how scared, how cruel, how utterly detached from Spirit’s compassion human beings can be. I became aware that shades of genocide play out every single day in much less sweeping terms, as well. A woman stoned, a trans* person beaten to death, a black man shot down in the streets.
And I started crying for the fearful difference between what we could be as a species and what we actually are.
My tears turned to sobbing as the immensity of the problem revealed itself in my mind. I realized how little can be done to heal the billions of people who have been hardened by trauma, the people who have no ability to temper their own rage at the injustice done to them. I saw how this simply flows through each generation to the next.
And I didn’t know what to do, seeing all of this, knowing all of this.
So I did the only thing I could. I stood up and walked to my bedroom altar. I lifted my hands from my sides, turned them palms up. My eyes were squeezed shut against the tears, my body shaking. And I said to the One who moves in all of us, “Take these hands, take this life, and use it in any way you can to stop this awful violence we do to each other. I surrender to you.”
And I meant it. I meant it like I had never meant anything before.
And before me, even though my eyes were shut tight, I saw very clearly a pervasive darkness illuminated only by a large bank of coals directly in front of me. I was covered by the warmth being emitted. I saw the blues and reds and deep oranges moving in that particular animated way that colors appear after a fire dies down.
Then a flame flickered out from the bed. It was not a robust flame, just a small one, and it danced its own dance as I watched, giving light that illuminated a bit deeper into the darkness. In a short time, it disappeared back into the bed of coals, its dance completed.
And Ruach Elohim softly moved through me and I was able to know what I had been shown.
I felt in my bones how inconsequential this life was, how short its duration, and how beautiful it appeared. With that realization came the clear understanding of what it was to give up my life for something more important, because, really, I would be giving up so very little. Surrender to Her could be such an easy process. The life of mine only seemed important because I had never before had any perspective. The life of mine was just a tiny flicker in time, so to surrender such a little thing was easy.
But in the next moment, another awareness came upon me like a giant wave crashing over my head.
Fear of annihilation. Fear of losing everything I was taught to value: my story, my illusions, my possessions, my relationships, my control.
And the vision of the coals and the flame, the warmth and the darkness, faded from behind my eyelids.
I fumbled to hold onto the connection that had been made between myself and All That Is, but it had been washed out and had flowed through the fingers of my upturned hands.
From then on, I knew how difficult surrender is for human beings. How difficult it is to become the loving, compassionate, fearless beings we were created to be. How difficult it is to stand before Her warmth and comforting energy, when we have learned, all our lives, to fear the knowledge of just how little we are.
When we start talking about becoming something new, when we start talking about acting or loving or being or creating in a new way, we are really talking about enacting an almost impossible fearlessness. We are talking about finding a way to unlearn all we have come to understand about how important and valuable and lasting each of us really is.
To become as we were created, to live within the realm of God on Earth, is to surrender to the dancing flame within us. To peel away all the outside attachment to who we are and how we look and our grasping assessment of what we mean to others. To allow our treasured flesh to become graciously and gratefully invisible, so that one uniquely beautiful dancing flame can illuminate the world.
This, to me, is the real emergence.