This fall, I kept running into the word: Unfold.

When this happens, I try to pay attention. What is this invitation about?

Rainer Maria Rilke’s words had struck me deeply:
“I want to unfold.
Let no place in me
hold itself closed,
for where I am closed,
I am false.”

And then a week or so later, these words in Rabbi Yael Levy’s Directing the Heart caught my attention:

“For I am seeking intimacy:
Make for me a sacred place by opening
your heart
And lifting up the work of your hands.
Creating a space for my presence
By honoring your beauty and offering your gifts.

I come to you on eagles’ wings and in the silence
of each breath.
Cultivate your wise and generous heart
So you will seek me and find me in the
unfolding of your life.”

I also spent time with Jesus’ words to a deaf man when he touched his ears and tongue: “Be opened.”





I knew that I wanted to spend time with this invitation. An image emerged for me to play with: a rose and Rilke’s words.

I took out my magazines and started cutting out pinks and creams.
I made a rough sketch of a rose and started laying down scraps of color.
I didn’t get very far into the process before I froze with anxiety. Chest tight. Self-Doubt loudly declaring: “I don’t know what I’m doing!” “I don’t think I can do this!”

And then came a gentle reminder:
Breathe, dear.
You are playing.
No one cares whether you can do this or not.
This is collage. You don’t need to know.
Remember the words you are working with?
Trust the unfolding.
Breathe. Gather your materials.
You have what you need.
Trust the process.

Breathing deeply and slowly, I returned to cutting and layering and gluing. And I found joy in playing and delight as a rose took shape. I made something I loved.

Unfold. © Jessica Sanborn, 2021.

I think the invitation to unfold remains. But what I have returned to repeatedly is this moment of seizing up with anxiety because I didn’t know what I was doing. I noticed how my heart closes up when self-doubt gets loud.

It’s surprising to me how often I need this reminder. I return to the image of the rose and this invitation to breathe almost daily.

Self-doubt cries: “I don’t know what I’m doing!” Wisdom replies: Breathe, hon. You know more than you give yourself credit for. You are not in this alone.

“I am afraid I messed up.” Breathe. It’s okay. Messing up is inevitable if you are trying. Mess away.

“I’m not where I want to be.” Breathe and trust, babe. Breathe and trust.

You are unfolding.

3 thoughts on “Unfolding

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