Last week, I invited students in this time of global pandemic to look for the helpers.
This week, I invite us all to consider this time - this collective Sabbath, if you will - as sacred time.
Most things in our lives have fallen away - our commutes, overscheduled daily routines, errands, extracurricular activities, sporting events, social gatherings, daily connections with co-workers, and even weekly religious services. Our lives have significantly narrowed in scope and turf, and have been simplified to include only the essentials. As we face the void that this shift presents in our lives, we might feel any number of things: dis-ease, fear, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, stress, worry, grief and loss. These feelings can be overwhelming.
Yet, I believe that within every experience there is something that God, or the Divine Presence, or however you name that reality, invites us to consider and learn. I’ve heard many saying that we - the global human family - needed a kind of spiritual awakening and reckoning, and this virus is giving us the opportunity to wake up from our slumber and examine our lives anew. We have drifted so far from what really matters, so far from what is right, good, true and life-giving, that this collective, global time-out could be an invitation to reflect on our lives and return to the basics: love and care for ourselves, one another, and the earth.
In other words, we are being invited on a sacred journey. We are being invited:
to enter into a new rhythm and slow down;
to discover new ways of being in relationship with one another;
to presence, stillness, solitude, and reflection;
to gratitude, joy, and renewed appreciation for the simple things in life that we so often take for granted;
to return to what is most important in our lives.
If we think of this time as sacred time, new questions about its purpose emerge: What in my life have I neglected that needs attention and care? What gifts does this time have to offer? What am I being asked to change about my life and how I live?
I came across a post on social media that offers some important lessons this virus is trying to teach us, things we have forgotten and needed to be reminded of. It is unclear who the author is (some have attributed it to Bill Gates) but I share it nonetheless because it offers us a road map for moving through this experience and coming out more compassionate, balanced and whole on the other side:
“It is reminding us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, religion, occupation, financial situation or how famous we are. This disease treats us all equally, perhaps we should, too.”
“It is reminding us that we are all connected and something that affects one person has an effect on another. It is reminding us that the false borders that we have put up have little value as this virus does not need a passport. It is reminding us, by oppressing us for a short time, of those in this world whose whole life is spent in oppression.”
“It is reminding us to keep our egos in check. It is reminding us that no matter how great we think we are or how great others think we are, a virus can bring our world to a standstill.”
“It is reminding us of how precious our health is …”
“It is reminding us of the shortness of life and of what is most important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those who are old or sick.”
“It is reminding us that this Earth is sick …”
“It is reminding us of how important our family and home life is, and how much we have neglected this. It is forcing us back into our houses so we can rebuild them into our home and strengthen our family unit.”
“It is reminding us that the power of freewill is in our hands. We can choose to cooperate and help each other, to share, to give, to help and to support each other or we can choose to be selfish, to hoard, to look after only ourselves. Indeed, it is difficulties that bring out our true colors.”
The author closes by saying: “Whereas many see the Corona/ Covid-19 virus as a great disaster, I prefer to see it as a great corrector. It is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten, and it is up to us if we will learn them or not.”
We are in an interim time where, as John O’Donohue says, “the path you took to get here has washed out; the way forward is still concealed from you; the old is not old enough to have died away; and the new is still too young to be born.” As we face this interim time, I share one of my favorite John O'Donohue blessings for a sacred journey.
Blessing for a Sacred Journey
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing.
Make sure, before you go,
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you towards
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life;
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
from Benedictus: A Book of Blessings by John O'Donohue