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  • Writer's pictureNancy Willbern, PhD

There are doors

In the universe, there are things that are known,

and there are things that are not known,

and in between them, there are doors.  

William Blake


I remember the first time I saw the painting on the ceiling of the

Sistine Chapel, The Creation of Adam, I felt frustrated, disappointed, maybe even a little bit angry at Michael Angelo for leaving that gaping expanse between the outstretched arm of Adam and the extended finger of God. “Why did he have to leave that gap, there? It would have been so much more satisfying, reassuring if he had painted them touching, if only a whisper of a touch. But no, he left them separated from each other – for eternity – with an inexhaustible reach.”

  The first time I saw this inspired depiction of the creation, I was 21 years old. Young… very young. I was still living in the world of the tangible. If their hands were not touching, they were adrift from each other. And would be forever. "A person could get lost in that space, could be eaten up by it, left untethered in the darkness of the great void." Very disturbing. I wanted to pull my crayons out and draw a little bridge between them to assuage my youthful angst.

  Years later, in my early 50's, I visited the painting again. And this time, I noticed my experience was completely different. This time, I smiled as I looked above me at that eternal gaping expanse, knowing it to be the place where hidden doors appear out of nowhere. By that stage in life, I understood the-space-in-between was not a vacuous black hole, after all, but rather the birthplace of all creativity, the space that is open and receptive, expectant and forever relational. The space where God and Human are held together is where the Life Force emerges, moment by moment by moment. If we don’t fill it in with our concretized, programmed assumptions, Life has the chance to invite us to join it. And we get to accept the invitation, not knowing where It will take us. Within that pregnant space, we - the Human - get to be re-created over and over again. And that adventure, right there is the whole idea.

Phtograph by Markus Baumeler - markus53 Original painting by Michael Angelo. Installed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Creation of Adam.


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