Spiritual Networks

Feeling Each Moment of Creation

Allan Schnarr, M.Div., PhD.
Published in the Perspective magazine of the Association of Humanistic Psychology, June/July 2011

“There are persons all around you that will emerge into an enhanced vitality,
with a renewed taste for life’s adventures,
only if you pursue your destiny
with the same extravagant devotion of a star to its destiny.”
Brian Swimme


Few people have the imagination for reality.


Only those convinced by their own dreams can see the hidden designs
behind the troubles of the world.
                                                                                                            Michael Meade

         Feeling Each Moment of Creation              
   Allan Schnarr, M.Div.,PhD.

Creation Means Transformation

Here I am at the beginning once again, feeling the love within calling something forth. I don’t know what is being born, even though the Dream of what may be moves within me. I have fallen in love again – with what may be. I dream a world flowing with lifegiving Creativity, a world where the new life given by one, inspires the lifegiving potential in another. My soul smiles through my eyes as I feel the longing for this wonder I envision. I ache with what is not yet. I have learned that giving birth means dying. When I give myself to my Dream, I am transformed. I have to let my old self go – to seed. I need to gestate, to approach the readiness to become the new life bursting forth. Death and rebirth is frightening, painful – and ultimately, joyful.

My Dream is my sacred calling, my vocation. Through it I foresee what in my life is as yet unlived. I glimpse my life purpose, and feel the worth of who I may be. I sense my part in joining the Creator’s ongoing act of love. Something ever more glorious is evolving. I am a participant in the process. My Dream is the divine spark within me. My Dream mirrors the fullness of what Spirit is bringing to birth in all that is. I feel the movement of the energy within me. My pleasure and my pain call me to flow with what is meant to last, and what needs to pass. I feel the evolutionary momentum carrying me along.

I have been following the Dream all my life. In recent years, I became intentional about understanding how my Dream comes true. I have come to understand it as a cyclic birthing process, wherein my feelings are my guide. As my appreciation has deepened, I have learned to cultivate awareness of these feelings: Amazement, Surrender, Passion, and Fulfillment. They are my experience of Creator Spirit bringing new love to birth through me.

I start by falling in love with what is. In my Amazement I am inspired to dream of what may be. I discover that the promise of exciting new life means that something in the Dream must die. I grieve the illusions I Surrender, even as I awaken to what waits to emerge. My Passion for the possible pushes forth the new expression of life. Fulfillment follows: I am living my Dream, joyfully co-creating what I love.

I start with a dream of love,
 and eventually realize the love that is a dream worth living.

 the love of what is given awakens the Dream of what may be.

Synonyms for Amazement: wonder, awe, bliss, enlightened, enriched, surprised, astounded, fascinated, inspired, enthralled, spellbound, entranced, captivated.

Whenever I embrace the moment, I am likely to be inspired.
In the fullness of what is now
lies the seed of what may come to be.

I’m closing my eyes and opening my awareness. I hear the lovely music sailing along on the hum of the air conditioner. I notice my body a little tense from being in this position for a while. I stretch my spine and welcome a sequence of easy, deep breaths. I feel my fingers dancing on the keys. I notice the quiet hum of pleasure in my body. The light is on inside. Someone is home. I feel my heart opening to embrace the wonder of being as present as I am now able to be. I was not always so. I marvel at the richness of simply noticing the fullness of this moment.

I love the breadth available right now, and as I give my attention to it, I sense the depth of what it may become. The wonder of this moment inspires me. I imagine following such moments through the publication of this article, and the joining at a workshop with others who are willing to live into the life they love. I know I am not the only dreamer. That thought brings my eyes near tears. I am entranced by the possibility.

One of my recent interns lived in Norway for years. When I told him about the workshop on Creativity I was dreaming up, he told me he had contacts in Norway that would surely be interested in having me offer it there. I’m still amazed. The point is not whether the trip to Norway happens or not. I am honoring my sense of wonder every time I meet a resonant dreamer, and every time I hear about those I have yet to meet. Come out, come out, wherever you are!

I envision a world where creative exchange marries the dreams of those who love what makes all well. I’m not talking about renowned teachers and artists making really big things happen. I’m dreaming of gatherings of those willing to live their daily lives in a conscious cycle of death and rebirth. If you live for transformation, I dream of creative exchange with you!

When I have the satisfying opportunity to gaze upon favorite works of art, or to listen to beloved pieces of music; when a meal with loved ones entrances my senses; when a breathtaking sunset settles the day; when a simple breath feels easy and full  – whatever the moment that amazes me – if I tune inward, there is my Dream, my longing for ever richer creative engagement with like-souled others. Amazement continually reawakens my Dream of what my life may become.

Amazement stretches my love for what is
into a love for what may be.

Each experience of Amazement is a dream-seed that will grow if it is gathered, planted, watered, and given the light of awareness. I need simply cultivate beginner’s mind, stop clinging to the familiar, and stay open to the newness of each moment. I can choose to live like a child whose innocence has not been lost, allowing this moment and the next to surprise me. I can muse with wonder at all that is beyond me, beyond my control, simply given. I can let the universal story – and my part in it – unfold.

My experience of Amazement is limited
only by my willingness to be open to the unexpected.
I need simply stay present, breathing and feeling, noticing what is.

Sounds  idyllic, doesn’t it! So simple. “So naïve!” I hear the naysayer within me – and project the echoes into you.

Disillusionment: GET REAL!

The excitement of Inspiration is often the harbinger of Disillusionment. Falling in love with a Dream can seem obviously foolish! And yet, I believe, it happens to us all. Since my earliest separation from the harmony of the womb, and then from that sometimes perfect (m)other, I long for the lasting bliss that is not soon crushed by its own passing. Again and again I think I’ve found her-him-it, and I sail into the light, only to find myself blinded, my wings melting, and myself falling. The challenge, I believe, is not to avoid falling in love, but to learn how to fall.

Love must be refined. Love is always more than it seems.

Some developmental psychologists refer to the mother of molding oneness who never disappoints me. Every child must develop a belief in this other in order to have some confidence that the world is a nurturing place, that basic needs will be more or less dependably met. Those who study childhood also speak of optimal disappointment or frustration. I am in danger of losing myself in the other until I learn to accept that the perfectly satisfying other is an illusion: I need to be disappointed. Similarly, I am in danger of losing the other inside myself until I learn that my control of the other is an illusion: I need to be frustrated.

My dream of my control over the perfect other is an addictive illusion. I can get caught in the quick high if I continually seek it to block out my disappointment and frustration. As uncomfortable as these feelings are, they invite me to test the reality of what is. They challenge me to stop clinging to my fantasy of the way I wish it were. Pipe dreams need to die.

To live in creative flow is to learn to differentiate between fantasy and the Dream from which reality is made. Disillusionment is the refiner’s fire. It is the place where dreams come to die – and to be reborn. Disillusionment is frightening – and painful. The flight of the phoenix is into the fire, willingly releasing there what no longer meets the reality of the moment.

Nothing new is born unless something old dies.
What once seemed to be love is no longer what it seemed.
What love is now is not yet what it may be.
What love may become is never under my control.

         the love of what is lost purifies the Dream.

Synonyms for Surrender: germinate, release, let go, discard, prune, eliminate, sacrifice, deconstruct, refine, purify, distill, sift, cleanse, clarify (blocked, disoriented, confused, depleted).

What a challenge, to find the pot of gold, and be fool enough to give it all away! How else will I travel the rainbow?

I have learned to be wary when I think I’ve arrived. I sense the grandiosity beneath the surface, chanting the spell, “It’s all under control now. I’ve made it. It’s perfect. I’ll never let it end.” These moments are echoes of my gloriously idealized marijuana highs many years ago. Oh, the power! The omnipotence! The hubris. I’ve learned to recognize the growing intensity of my clinging to whatever pleasure I’m idealizing. I’m back in childhood wanting my birthday party never to end. I can get rather desperate in my refusal to let go. I can tense up more and more, doing my best to push the pleasure higher, faster, harder, more! What I’m really doing is scaring myself. I have learned to recognize the crash and burn that is inevitable.

The morning after reminds me that Disillusionment is reality settling in.

The wise choose to Surrender, to let go what is passing, to grieve what is already gone. The wise do not cling to what never really was, demanding that it be what’s next. The wise stay with what is now. It’s the only way to live in creative flow.

What do I need to let go?
What do I need to stay with?
How is what I love being refined?

When I was born my parents took me to the local convent, laid me on the altar, and consecrated me to God. This initiated the script that became ever more clear. As oldest son I was to be the hero/saint for our big dysfunctional family. I was to make myself wonderful enough that everyone would be blessed by my presence. I did my best to follow this Dream of saving the world as I stretched out beyond my family. I went right out of high school into a religious order and was eventually ordained a priest. By the time I got to Chicago to study clinical psychology I’d been living my savior Dream for nearly thirty years.

The grandiosity had been niggling me for nearly a decade, but it wasn’t until I fell in love for the third time that I began to ache deep in my gut. When I listened closely, I felt like I was dying. It was the most frightening moment I could remember when I realized I might need to let my Dream die. Who was I without that Dream? And yet, how could I stay with it when it was so clearly an illusion. The truth was I was trying to buy the love for which I was longing. I needed a new Dream rooted in a love that fed me and filled me – so that I could let it flow through me.

I fell in love and got married. Over thirty years later I am still living this new Dream. The love I have learned to live in my relationship with my wife continues to be the foundation for an ever evolving way of embodying love.

Sometimes Surrender puts one Dream to rest so that
a more complete Dream may be born.

Many years ago I had the Dream of being the director of a masters program in pastoral counseling. I instigated the formation of a team. We wrote a proposal. About a year later the program was formed. I applied for the director position. Even though I had friends on the search committee, I never even received an interview! I was devastated. What a staggering loss! If I didn’t have the power to make the Dream happen, everything could fall apart. It had happened in early life trauma. I was terrified.

Behind every illusion of control lies fear.

As I moved through my fear I began to search for meaning in the experience. I came to realize that I was not cut out to be an administrator, nor tied into institutional constraints. My call to follow a creative path came into focus. What I considered a sort of sideline dream moved to center stage. I realized my life purpose was intricately bound to my Dreams of creativity.

The cycle of death and rebirth is relentless. Again and again I need to let go of my Dream, to let it pass, so that it can live on renewed. This is the only way that love truly lasts.

Surrender can have many facets:

  • There comes a time for shedding one’s skin, for pruning what does not belong. What is, or has been, does not fit with the Dream of what may be.
  • Sometimes a larger purpose needs to come into focus. A narrowly limited perspective needs to be let go. I may be clinging to my way when something much more wonderful is pressing its potential upon me. What if I don’t know the whole story?
  • Recurrently, expectations, assumptions, shoulds, self-defeating mindsets, dispiriting beliefs need to be released. These are representations of the way my need for control has a tight grip on the status quo. The familiar is my friend because I can make it work for me. It’s a comforting illusion.
  • Sometimes I am startled by the fear of my own powerlessness. There is something I have to do but I can’t and everything will fall apart if I don’t.
  • Periodically, as I let go the illusion of my control, I find myself in the deep passage. I need to confront what I have long buried in the darkness. Tremors from past trauma need to be felt. Vulnerabilities inside myself need to be tenderly held and allowed to heal.
  • Surrender always involves grieving. The only way to keep the Dream alive is to release the shame and guilt, and to feel the fear, the anger, and the sadness. I need to accept the loss of what I have loved.

I am not in control, and I hold faith in the Dream.
The evidence says the Dream is dying,
And I hold faith in the Dream.
However frightening or painful the loss,
my faith is in death and rebirth:
New life emerges as the old life dies.

As I let go what I loved, I discover what my love is coming to be.

             to awaken inside the  womb, and to wait wistfully to be born.

Surrender does not instantly catapult me into a new way of being. When I let go of an old way, I am like the seed falling into the ground. I am no longer a part of what fed me for so long, no longer connected to what sustained my growth. There is nothing I can do to make something happen. I am dependent on what is given to move me into what I am coming to be. I lie quietly in the dark, waiting for the warmth and moisture. When I have received what I need, I outgrow my old shell and begin to reach through the dark. The light calls me, though I do not see it yet.

To Gestate is to waste time, to do nothing. I accept my powerlessness, my lack of control. I let go the shame and guilt that tell me there is something wrong with me for not having everything under control. I Surrender the illusion that there is something I can do / must do to make the Dream happen.

I allow myself to drift through the present: I am not holding onto the past; I am not reaching for the future. There are no problems to solve, no place else that I need to be. I accept that this is a time for listening. I open myself to receive what may be given. Let it come. Let it in.

To Gestate is
to hold faith in the Dream
without immediate evidence of it or investment in it.

In the beginning was the formless void . . .

A few weeks ago I was working on the Dream Weavers workshop. I hit the veritable wall. My mind went fuzzy. I couldn’t get myself to focus on what to do next. I was very frustrated. Then something told me to just sit in my easy chair and let go. My fear that I’m just building a grand illusion vibrated through me. As I breathed, I began to feel relief. I let my body sink into the chair and my mind empty. I found it comforting to let myself be. For quite a while, I simply drifted.

Along came a moment when a tiny while a spark caught my awareness. I let it awaken inside me. An hour later a poem that mystified and amazed me had emerged.

If I can allow myself to be empty, a new fullness becomes possible. I do not need to know what’s next. In my vulnerability lies new possibility. When I Surrender and take time to Gestate, I let something from beyond me to come to be. I allow the surprise.

         the love of what may yet be actualizes the Dream.

Synonyms for Passion: devotion, dedication, boldness, daring, audacity, fidelity, commitment, attentiveness, zeal, enthusiasm, perseverance, ardor, eagerness, fervor, gusto, zest, firmness, urgency, determination.

There comes a time when the new life will not be contained. With its own sense of urgency it bursts forth into the light. Passion finds a way to be born!

Whatever has held me back can do so no longer. The lifegiving power I need is flowing through me. I take the risk. I make the change. I love something new into being. I actualize my Dream.

  • A couple months ago, as I was pouring over the requirements of agents who may be interested in my book, I noticed many who preferred authors with a “national platform”. This was disillusioning for me since I had no such thing. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a seed began to gestate. Several weeks later the inspiration for a workshop on Creativity as vocation came to me. The fire was lit! I realized I love the possibility of helping others find the creative path that is so enriching for me. Since then the workshop and this article have fed the generation of each other. I know my Passion is ignited when it’s a challenge to focus on and care about my other commitments!
  • Six months ago I finished the book I’ve been birthing in one way and another for two decades. I was waiting to hear from a small publisher that had expressed interest, but was in difficult financial straights. I was disoriented. What was I to do now with my creative time? I allowed the uncertainty to gestate for several weeks. Then came the flash of a possibility. I could write articles and have them ready to publish as a way to market the book when the time came. Four articles poured out in three months. I was loving the opportunity to write outside the constraints of the book, on topics near and dear to my heart. I was amazed what was coming to be.
  • When my wife-to-be and I fell in love it was our Passion that carried us through all the treacherous straights of a priest choosing marriage.
  • When my sense of life purpose was on the rocks a few years out of grad school, it was my Passion for a meaningful life that moved me to quitting a secure job with nothing but hopes of something else.
  • When the job I loved as director of the practicum at Claret Center was in jeopardy due to financial troubles, it was my Passion for creative community that urged me to the generation of the off site locations that have stabilized this richly fulfilling professional activity.


I believe that virtually all the turning points in my life, personal and professional, have come down to my Surrender to disillusionment, allowing gestation, and claiming the Passion to generate something new.

Passion breaks through constraints, brushes aside limiting expectations, washes away shoulds and should-nots, snaps the trance of consensual “reality”. It sees past the why not in favor of the energy in the why. Passion flows around the naysayer, believing in the way that it has found. It gambles on the potential the Dream holds. Passion invests in what it loves, and brings it to birth!

It’s the new life waiting within that must emerge.
It will have its day in the sun.
I have only to let it out.

         the love-of-what-is-now senses the Dream happening.

Synonyms for Fulfillment: satisfaction, success, gratification, blessed, enjoyment, glowing, enthralled, pleasure, joy, happiness, triumph, realization, accomplishment, completion, manifestation, materialization, surfacing, emergence.

So many of my favorite moments in life are times when I realize I am living my Dream. A lifegiving creative exchange of love is happening! It always seems like a miracle to me. I know it is beyond my power to have made it happen. I have longed for it, poured my heart and soul into whatever flowed toward it – and now, here it is!

  • My wife, Leila, and I gave ourselves for over twenty nine years to nurturing our daughter into loving life. Several months ago, at her wedding, my heart was recurrently so filled with joy that it watered my eyes. When I had a chance to speak, I identified how fulfilling it was, as a parent, to see our child embodying our deepest values. Leila and I have valued love, and here we were, seeing it between Amanda and her husband, between them and their friends, between all the family members gathered. How did this moment ever come to be?


Fulfillment marvels at what is happening, celebrating the blessing that is given, and owning the investment that has participated in what has come to be.

  • My favorite professional activity is as director of an internship for therapists in training at Claret Center in Chicago. So long ago I fearfully dreamed of supervisors and interns creating a community where we cultivated with each other the kind of safety we need to generate with our clients. Year after year, with each group, we got better at respecting and responding to the personal and professional needs of each member. A couple months ago, many of us gathered to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the internship. We sat in a circle and each person spoke about what they’d done in their lives with what they received from our creative exchange. I was profoundly moved to hear each person talk of embodying the values we’d reached for in our time together. How did this moment ever come to be?


Fulfillment wonders at all that has happened to bring the Dream to fruition. It rejoices in the sweet delight of what has been born.

  • My Dream of creative community withered when I left religious life – but it would not die. Eventually I sent an invitation to a number of people to gather once a month to support each others’ growth in love. Ten years later there were still seven of us who had been meeting once a month. Again and again, when we were together, I would feel a burst of joy that brought me near tears. My voice would falter when I told them how deeply meaningful our gathering was to me. How did each of these moments ever come to be?


Fulfillment relishes the mystery of all the interconnected weaving that has filled out the tapestry of the Dream as it currently radiates its splendor.

The more I have allowed myself to die and be reborn,
the more I have let my Dream be transformed,
the more my appreciation of love has been refined –
the more frequently I can experience Fulfillment.

I can find it in the little things. A stranger smiles at me as I’m walking along, and I realize that I’ve been smiling. A client remarks on how clean and clear my windows are. Our building engineer whistles while he works. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail. A  conflict with a colleague resolves itself smoothly. A robin builds a nest holding three blue eggs right outside my window.

To realize Fulfillment in any given moment, I need to:

  • Recognize that this is not about taking credit for what is happening,
  • Appreciate that what is given and what I do with it bring each moment into being,
  • Embrace what is, as it is, and love what it may become,
  • Let my Dream be transformed into the universal Dream.


The great wheel of life turns and I am recurrently renewed. I release my old self and its newly exposed illusion of control.

The Dream of love that has seduced me awakens me
to the love that transcends me.

The Creator’s song of love enchants me. As I let it flow through me, I claim it as my own. Then comes the moment when I’m softly humming my melody – and I hear, from outside myself, the harmonies. Spellbound again by something beyond myself, I welcome the surround sound. I realize an orchestra is playing a rapturous symphony – and then, suddenly I’m the director! I orchestrate with a purpose – until all the musicians flow into improvisational jazz!

Steadily I learn that the music has a life of its own.
I need to find my instrument and learn to play my part.

The universal love story is being played out. In each moment, in my awareness, love is revealed. I fall into it, flow with it, learn from it. I align my intentions with my understanding of it. I begin to take initiative to join love in making all well. I swell with the pleasure as coincidences meaningfully support my intentions.

Inevitably, without my notice, the power has corrupted me. I realize it when my illusion of control bursts. Then I grieve my way through the Surrender of my love for making things go my way. Eventually I listen deeply in the emptiness, waiting for the Creator’s song of love to find me again.

Each time the Dream returns, it’s a little less mine. Slowly I discover what it means to love, to make all well. Steadily I discover how to match my intentions to those of the Creator. I learn to let go so that fear, shame, anger, guilt, and sadness pass quickly. As I honor what needs to die, I find myself, empty, wide open. Therein arises something new, something divine, something lifegiving for all. I allow myself to flow with the joy of this new life so that it may last. I give myself to what is meant to be as it comes to be.

I start with a dream of love,
 and eventually realize the love that is a dream worth living.

Flow chart

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