A friend of mine used this title phrase in casual conversation last night, and I can’t even remember what she was referring to in the flood of connections I made the second I heard it. It resonated with me as the answer to art questions I had been getting as well as parenting advice I had been doling. More than anything the spiritual implications resounded in my thought. It is the difference between floating and treading water, between being peaceful and feeling frenetic, or between understanding and presumption. It is the difference between inspiration and logjam, between effectiveness and impotence, between seamless connection and utter frustration, or simply the difference between rest and exhaustion.
A blog reader recently asked quite insistently where I come up with “all those ideas” for my abstract paintings. This made me uncomfortable as it was said with what struck me as inappropriate awe. (Please don’t put me on a pedestal here!) Like I sit around chewing the end of my pencil coming up with lists of abstract images sourced from my own human brain! Truly, I work at my artwork but it is not hard; anyone that has watched me do it knows it is play more than work. I just work to keep out of the way and allow enough time to let the unabated flow get out downstream. I do not author that flow. I do not make anything happen, I let it happen. There is an unending reservoir of supernal freshness I draw on, effervescing free and constant. I actually feel led by the nose, and to the extent that I am obedient to every next impulsion that comes to me from deep, uninhibited intuition, the piece is successful. We are all capable of this and I recommend it as it brings with it such a marvelous aura of relief and joy. It is totally about surrender and not control.
In a couple months, all my children will be teenagers. In a couple days, my oldest goes off to college for the first time. I enjoy my teens because I do not try to hold too tightly or micromanage too closely. They are coming out well because they have been allowed enough apron string to find themselves while still under our roof, and they know who they are. They have been allowed the freedom to explore without us dictating to them their every direction. They are comfortable with me and trust me largely because I have been comfortable enough with them and trusted them enough to let them hold their own reins. This way, they’re glad I’m still in the buggy, so to speak, in case I need to momentarily grab those reins, but meanwhile, they are not pushing me away like so many teenagers must, to parents that hold on too tight. My husband has articulated this parenting style as taking on the role of the “favorite uncle,” who gets to enjoy and be interested, but does not carry the burden of responsibility. God is the actual parent anyway, and is literally in charge of every detail of their lives. We all do better when we realize that and live out from that truth. When we think it is up to us, that is when any parenting disaster happens. In our experience, success in parenting is about surrender rather than control.
So it is also in our spiritual life. The healthy person does not think about health but trusts it to be there as a natural part of his design; it is the sick person who fixates on health with an ever-tightening agitated grip. When we are self-conscious, we block the flow of spiritual sense, or the Christ-consciousness. When we get rid of self-consciousness we make spiritual progress. Don’t pray asking God to “be there;” know instead that He’s already there (how could He not be since He is infinite and ever-present?) and get on with it, trusting the overwhelming fact that He IS. It is not about what you can do, it is about what God is doing. Don’t ask to “do His will;” simply be His will instead, without alternative, because you are inseparable from Him. Align your thoughts with those of the Christ, relinquishing the concept that you have a mind of your own that can be separate from God. This is what Jesus did and came to show us to do. As a spiritual professional, you don’t hear me talk about it a lot. That’s because God’s already speaking directly to each of His precious children in a way that they can understand. He’s in control, all we have to do is surrender.