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Madonna and Child by Holly Irwin

These words from the Tao Te Ching are my mantra. They inspire me to identify with and live larger than what I appear to be individually. I turn to this felt-sense of self when I want to have a clearer, purer, more expansive sense of who I am at heart, when all that’s extraneous is removed.

The words refer to the Tao, that which is all-pervading, all-embracing, unchanging and unceasing. But I take them in a more personal way, as something to aspire toward–as a mother, a writer, a homemaker, artist, citizen. The world has much need of our mothering.

Each part of the mantra inspires me.

“Able to be” speaks to the capacity, the potentiality, of all humans, male or female, to aspire to something more, something beyond our current understanding of who we are or can be. “Something more”–that intangible, mysterious Other we yearn toward.

“Mother” is the symbol of all things round and fertile, life-giving and nurturing. Unconditional love and acceptance. The ground or source of being. The creator.It refers to inscrutable urge to turn ourselves inside out, to bring that which we love into fruition.

“World” refers to the entirety of creation, the universe and all that lies within. But it also refers to all that is yet to be. All those intangible, interior unwritten landscapes.   It refers to that hidden nebulous thing within which longs to be brought into full, vibrant, elegant being.

The mantra leans toward the female but the male is not excluded (note how the words  male and man are included within the words female and woman).It’s impetus is the male and female in blissful, rapturous union. The male rooted within the female, the female pierced by the male, the two wrapped together, one being. No “mother,” no “creator,” emerges without this union. No creation, no art, no worldly domain. No new life or exterior being.

There’s a sense of fullness here, within the mantra. A sense of  completion, satisfaction, fulfillment. A sense of power and presence. Powerful presence. There’s nothing static or final about it, despite the fullness, the sense of completion. It doubles back to the “able to be” part:  Capacity. Potentiality. Ever fertile. Ever reaching toward the intangible, the unknown, to bring it into being. Ever reaching toward that “something more” waiting to be born.

When I meditate on this mantra and feel its full potential within, feel myself as some reflection or expression of that woman “able to be the mother of the world,” I know I’ve come home. Home within myself, and within this world that embraces me.