“The hour is striking so close above me,
so clear and sharp,
that all my senses ring with it.
I feel it now: there’s a power in me
to grasp and give shape to my world.
I know that nothing has ever been real
without my beholding it.
All becoming has needed me.
My looking ripens things
And they come toward me, to meet and be met.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Book of Hours, tr. by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy
Often, a new mentoring client will come to me expressing a deep desire to create something magical, and a lurking fear that their creation is somehow “too big to handle.” They’re in love with the magnificence of their vision — and afraid that they aren’t yet ready for it.
The work I do with my clients emerges from what I know to be true about the creative process — which is not that you simply “push harder” or “fake it ‘till you make it,” or anything else that places blind action and monumental effort ahead of soul-aligned and soul-powered action.
When I look back at my own life, I can trace a clear pathway from the things I found irresistible as a child; to the things I’ve explored, intimately, creatively, over the past nearly seven decades; to those that continue to compel me today as a writer and artist.
Most of these creations started out being way too complex for me to wrap my hands and heart around when I first felt their gravitational pull.
As a child, I experienced them initially as questions — questions that piqued my curiosity, that would not leave me alone, that demanded attention, exploration, engagement. It took many years of burrowing into them before I realized that these questions were in fact portals to new worlds waiting to be born.
Those creative-possibilities-disguised-as-questions first emerged from my own feeling responses to the great forces that shape our world, that shaped me.
The most powerful of these was Nature, in all her wild, sprawling, awe-inspiring beauty. I loved being in the wild – climbing mountains, hiking through lush, tropical jungles, following the flow of mountain streams and waterfalls into densely canopied valleys, drowsing in the spreading branches of mango and peepul trees through the heat of summer.
That delight in Nature led to the wondrous discovery that all forms of life grow according to the inner pattern of their being – a pattern that’s held by the Deva, or soul, of each life form. It was a discovery that would lead me to develop a wide range of relationships with the Devas.
These relationships have formed my sense of self, and given me a home and a clear sense of belonging in this world. They are the foundation upon which my body of work has been built. They have immeasurably enriched my own life and the lives of thousands of clients and students.
I did not enter into relationship with the Devas with an agenda in mind.
I loved them with a child’s pure, untrammelled love, so I sought to know them, understand them, share in their vision and desires, appreciate them and participate in the work they do in the weaving of our world.
Over the years I’ve cultivated profound, mutually sovereign, beautifully symbiotic relationships with the Devas of mountains and streams, landscapes, cities, countries, organizations, creative projects, and businesses, among many others. My friends include the Devas of soul qualities, like love and sovereignty; the Devas of the elements, from which all life is made; the Devas of galaxies and universes, of the earth and cosmos, and life-forms far removed from our human world.
I’ve opened my heart to these relationships because they fascinate me, because they offer the gift of experiencing, from the inside, some of the many forms in which the Sacred expresses itself. Because each of these Devas, along with the pattern that it holds for the life in its care, is kin to me, yet utterly unique in ways that continue to delight and astonish me.
Devas have been, and remain, my beloved friends and teachers. They share their worlds and their wisdom generously, shepherding me through a life-long apprenticeship in everything from cosmology to soul-powered creation to energy alchemy to the fulfillment of our species’ role in the creative ecology of our planet.
Through this long partnership with the Devas, I’ve come to understand people, places, situations, creative ideas, political structures and historical movements from the perspective of soul. Stripped of glamour, illusion, projections and other distorting lenses, attuning to Devas helps me know the inner truth of things. They keep me connected to my own soul, and to the creative spirit that moves through all life. They encourage, support and walk with me as I play my part in the weaving of the world.
Eventually – as an organic evolution of my relationships and experiences with the Devas – I wrote and published several books (a novel, two collections of poetry, and non-fiction), created the Deva Cards, and crafted dozens of programs, advanced trainings, and courses focused on co-creating in partnership with soul and the Devas, energy alchemy, soul development, transformational teaching, soul leadership and mentorship, creative writing, the energetics of groups, and more.
These creations weren’t on my radar, when I first began exploring the Devas and subtle-energy realms.
They evolved as I evolved, as I experienced, first-hand, the miracles that unfold when soul acts through human choice, volition and the purposeful application of our gifts in service to art, and to our world.
If your creation feels too big for you to hold, it’s because it IS too big for your hands and heart to fully embrace, right now. Depending on where you are, in your relationship with it, you may experience your creation as a feeling response to something in your world. It may show up as a question or questions that won’t be appeased by distraction or avoidance — that command your attention. Or, your creation may already have taken root in your heart — as intimate, essential and familiar as your own breath.
Whatever your relationship with it is, right now, you and your creation are potential friends and partners. It has a vision for its life that is in harmony with your gifts, your challenges and needs, your desires, and your soul’s purposes.
That vision may not be visible to you except as brief glimpses of possibility. Making art calls on your willingness to dance with uncertainty, to explore the mystery, to be flexible, spontaneous, devoted, even when you don’t know where you’re going, even when it feels like you’ve no idea what you’re doing, or what awaits you at the end of your creative journey.
Yes, making your art will change you, and change the trajectory of your life. There are no guarantees that you’ll succeed at fulfilling your vision for your creation — there’s always a gap between reach and grasp. Being an artist doesn’t assure you of mastery, comfort, prosperity, ease or certainty. It doesn’t assure you of status, fame, acceptance or understanding.
You make your art because you must. Because it poses a question that won’t be denied. Because you’re in love with making, even when you loathe the turmoil it sometimes puts you through.
You make your art because making it grows you as an artist; because it weaves you into the heart of the world; because it makes you more fully human; because it’s thrilling to create a world that did not exist before you brought it into being. You make your art because your heart is overflowing with love and gratitude for the gift of your life, and the gift you make to the world, of your creative endeavours, is your heart’s response to the treasure that’s been given to you.
Yes, your creation is too big for you right now. And yes, it may well grow you and your presence in the world in ways that feel like they’re too big for you to handle.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Your creation is just the right size for the You that you’ll become in the process of creating it.
You cannot judge your fitness for gestating and birthing your creation any more than you can judge your fitness for becoming a parent. Your children grow you into a parent. Your creations grow you into an artist.
So, take the first step.
Tune into the feelings and sensations that are the seeds your soul has planted in you. Tune into the questions that burrow into your consciousness, that show up unbidden. Tune into the desire, the yearning that calls you to your creation.
Talk with your soul, and your inner selves, about what you truly want. Share your fears, which are always about two things: That you won’t be enough; or that the world won’t love what you create.
Reassure your inner selves. Let your inner five-year-old or thirteen-year-old know that s/he is not responsible for bringing your creation to life. Let them know you’ve got this, and you aren’t doing it alone. You have the skills and knowledge, the tools and support to create this. You know how to access skilled guidance and mentoring to help you along the way.
Often, our most vulnerable selves are traumatized by historical experiences of being responsible for things they aren’t equipped to handle. Let them off the hook, so they don’t get scared and try to bring your creative process to a screeching halt to protect you from overwhelm and the possibility of failure.
Then, say Yes. Say Yes to your soul. Say Yes to your desires. Say Yes to the soul of your creation.
Give yourself and your creation the nurturance and support you both need, to bring your creative project alive. Say Yes and step into a creative container that will hold you through uncertainty and doubt, through the struggle with your art, your tools, your vision, your capacity to persevere, to adapt to shifting necessities. Say Yes to your art, your artistry, your vision and your project.
You can do this. You’ve done it many, many times in your life, starting with your birth, that most stupendous, miraculous creation of all.
I wish you courage, strength, curiosity and boldness. I wish you the magic of willing hands, a faithful heart, winged feet and a circle of trustworthy companions to accompany you.