The Risk to Listen
"Let's take life easy now" Barry remarked as we received the first copies of our second book. Models of Love, from the printer . It had been quite a challenge to finish the book while both our children were small and being homeschooled. I nodded my approval as Barry further commented, "Surely we can slow down now and make life simple and uncomplicated." "No more challenges for a while," I thought as I sat hugging our new book to my heart.
Then I remembered a prayer I had made over a year ago. I asked that I never stop growing. I had sensed a very deep healing that I was needing and had asked for help. However, now I felt that I'd been through enough growth for a while. I just wanted to relax.
Our family, Barry and I, Rami, age ten, and Mira, age four and a half, packed up our old camper and set off for the mountains. Never had we needed a vacation more. On the third day of our camping trip I was sitting alone when I felt the distinct presence of someone beside me. I knew this sensation well, for the same experience had happened to me shortly before we conceived both Rami and Mira. At first I felt in awe of the greatness of this being beside me, whom I could not see with physical eyes but could feel within my heart. "Maybe this is a helper," I thought, and then the message came:
"I am your third child and am ready to be conceived."
It was the last thing I wanted to hear at this time in my life.
"No!" I stammered, "I don't want to get pregnant. I don't want anything different right now. I just want to rest."
I felt this being smiling at me, loving me fully and offering the gift of its presence in my life.
I reflected on how I have always loved children. When I was ten years old and baby-sitting young ones, I made up my young mind to devote my life to children. When adults would ask me what I wanted to "be" when I grew up, I would always answer in the same way: "I want to be a mother." And motherhood has been one of my greatest joys in life. Barry and I have also found that part of our work with couples has been helping them overcome their resistance to becoming parents. Oftentimes I amusingly call myself a "born-again mother," as so much of my spiritual life began to unfold the moment Rami was conceived and continued with Mira's presence in our lives. During a workshop in Seattle, when I was enthusiastically expounding on the joys of parenting to a couple unsure of wanting children, a man remarked to the group, "Joyce gets a commission for each baby she places here."
With my inner eyes I have seen and felt the greatness of the souls now coming to earth. My heart rejoices at their beauty and spiritual strength. They are great peace-makers who have come to help this planet. It is a great blessing to parent one of these shining souls.
Once again I was drawn back to the presence beside me, "You can conceive me in three weeks. Your family is now ready for my presence in your lives."
"No!" harshly echoed through my being.
Where was that "no" coming from in me? For the first time in my life I was feeling strong resistance to having another child. My rational mind argued that we were both forty years old, too old to be having more children (though I knew this wasn't true). Rami and Mira were finally old enough to go with us on great adventures or else stay at Grandma and Grandpa's house while we did necessary air travel. Barry and I had felt long ago that our family was complete, and had gotten rid of all the baby things.
I felt this great being stretch out its hands in blessing and in love, seemingly amused by my obvious struggle.
The next three weeks were extremely confusing. We left our peaceful camping spot and flew east to my home town of Buffalo for several talks and workshops. Each morning upon awakening I felt the loving presence of our third child. Each morning I would then sit in meditation and watch my crazy mind resist. The more I resisted, the more love I felt poured upon me.
Finally, when my mind had come up with perhaps a hundred reasons why we should not have another child, this message came into my heart: "Your risk to conceive me is your risk to be healed...trust in the perfection of God's plan."
Against all that my rational mind was telling me, the voice within my heart grew stronger and steadier. I knew I needed to take a big risk and listen to my heart, the will of my God-Self, and ignore my resisting mind. God's will for us was to conceive our third child.
Joyce wasn't the only one struggling with resistance to having another child. Our family felt very complete to me, too. In addition, it seemed that our work in the world was blossoming. A child at this time in our lives meant (to me) giving up the talks and workshops as a form of service. It meant nesting once again. I knew in my heart that I didn't want to enter lightly into having another child. I knew I wouldn't want to just plug a new baby into our busy, full schedule of activities. I prayed often at this time for guidance, for even a hint of what to do.
In my deepest listening, the word that kept coming to me was "surrender." But surrender to what? I wasn't feeling the "knocking on the door" that Joyce was. I wasn't even feeling the desire to have another baby. So how could I surrender to something I wasn't even experiencing?
The answer came one day in a quiet loving moment alone with Joyce. It was my greatest risk, my greatest leap of faith, to surrender to the guidance coming through Joyce. I had to let go of the little boy part of me stubbornly "wanting to do it myself"...even the part of me that wanted to understand what was happening. I had to accept my unknowingness.
At last I felt a wave of peace come upon me, that unmistakable feeling that tells me I'm on the right track. I realized I wasn't surrendering to Joyce in the sense of giving my power away, the archetypal struggle of all little boys with their mothers. Rather I was surrendering to God's will, to a plan I wasn't comprehending at this my current stage of development.
It became clear to me that, given the experiences Joyce was having, we could only conceive a child if it was for our highest good. My great risk was simply to trust the perfection and goodness of the universe...to trust God.
I shared these thoughts and feelings with Joyce. The peace was contagious. The missing ingredient for her had been me. Up to that moment it had seemed a one-sided struggle...a decision which was hers alone. Now we were together accepting the gifts of God — in whatever form they might come. If a soul was to come into our lives in the form of a new baby, it was of course a gift. We would be given the highest way to serve God, for that was our highest desire. If it meant giving up the talks and workshops for a few years, so be it. Something better would replace that activity. If it meant continuing this form of service, then the baby would be comfortable traveling. Whatever happened would be just what we needed, as it has always been in our lives. We may not have always gotten what we've desired, but we have always gotten what we've needed.
A Leap of Faith
Our prayer before uniting our bodies was to serve God in the deepest way, to grow and to be healed. Three weeks of intense struggle brought us to this point of complete surrender to God's will. With this surrender came an indescribable feeling of peace and well-being. Our minds can never comprehend the fullness of any life situation. Only by becoming inwardly still and listening to our hearts can we be rightly guided.
Three days later Barry and I said good-bye to our sweet girls and to Grandma and Grandpa and journeyed to England where we attended a five day retreat at the White Eagle Lodge. It was during this time that we both saw the full glory of the soul that had chosen to come to us as our third child. We felt so honored to have been chosen as parents for this one. As we became immersed in pregnancy for the third time, gratitude filled our being. I realized that this child was coming in answer to the prayer I had been saying for over a year. This one was coming to take us a big step further along our path. This was a step we could only make with help. Through the presence of this one in our lives, we would both experience a deep healing. The risk to conceive our third child was like a leap in faith which was already reaping rewards. My mind still occasionally doubted the wisdom of our action, yet my heart knew that we were right on track.
When we returned to California with the children we told them of the new family member. Both girls became ecstatic upon hearing the news. The baby was due on Rami's eleventh birthday and Mira's fifth and a half birthday. Plans were immediately made for a water birth. Excitement grew!
With the excitement came an unexplainable feeling that this child would teach us about death. Barry and I tried to push the feeling away, thinking it was probably just a fear. However, it came all the more strongly. I had an uneasy feeling that this baby would never grow to be an adult. My fear told me to have an amniocentesis. My heart told me to trust. I trusted and I waited. Then severe nausea set in.
The second, third and fourth months of pregnancy were extremely difficult. I was nauseous every minute of the day, having to spend most of my time lying down. There were times when I felt so discouraged by physical symptoms that I wished I would just die. It was during these times that I tried to remind myself that a great prize — the presence of this great being — was certainly worth the price of these months of hardship. But the nausea was so severe that I couldn't really feel the soul of our baby. The knowledge that the light surely follows the darkness kept me living each new day of this difficult initiation.