And Greetings, Sadness. Sadness riddled with loss and loneliness and overwhelm.
Are you feeling it too? You’re not alone. I started the day yesterday hearing the story of a critical care doctor in Italy give a wrenching report of his last three weeks leading a massive but seemingly futile stand against the onslaught of COVID cases at his 1,000-bed hospital. I marveled at how he and his community of nurses, doctors, paramedics, aides, and support staff are courageously standing in there for their community, many of them becoming ill in the process. All of them crying every day at the magnitude of the challenge.
So, what’s the solution? Isolation? How can that be the healing step? How do we deal with that? With cancellation and disconnection? How long did you say it might last? Months, maybe? How many deaths in America unless something changes? Or was it even if something does change? 1 million or more? How many are there now in America? 100. That’s a lot to go.
And Greetings to Fear, the “other pandemic,” and its companion Terror.
The fear and sadness are intensifying. People call every day with symptoms they know are fear but want to be sure isn’t COVID. As if fear wasn’t already a strong presence already in our modern lives. Who knew it had this much room to surge? It feels like it has fully descended on us from the cosmos and envelopes the earth. There is no place to run or to hide. Isolation feeds it.
But wait! Let’s change the script here. It’s time. Let’s reframe this entirely. What if we added something? Let’s see where we go if we connect to a high-and-mighty principle, like compassion? That’s a good starting point.
You (Fear and Sadness et al) are all welcome here. No sarcasm. You are welcome. Have a seat at our table. Do you have something to tell us?
“We have much to impart,” comes the reply.
We are only the victims if we have too narrow of a focus. A broken egg in the nest is not a tragedy if you include in your focus the baby bird that is starting her life. Seeing the whole is the key.
Are you menaces?
“It depends on your point of view.”
What do you want?
“To introduce our Master. The one who always accompanies us, but rarely is discovered.”
Why does he hide?
“He must be engaged.”
What happens if he is engaged?
Who is your Master?
“The Joy of Growth.”
These times have a message. The first step is to choose as your identity that of One Who is Here to Learn and Grow. Then your challenges are revealed as your biggest opportunities. Your suffering is celebrated as the means to your greatest end. Seeing yourself in this way automatically diminishes the sadness. Longing for comfort is replaced with the acceptance of challenge. Start where you are.
The next is to choose your worldview wisely. You do have a choice, you know. There is a view of the world that is born out of the narrow focus. It states the world is in such disarray and its final decline is unavoidable. It’s like looking at the once perfect and smooth egg which is now cracked. It’s like being saddened by the broken egg. Fear and impotence are key ingredients here. You can aspire to expand this view of the world, to find the newborn chick.
The competing view of the world states that there is a bigger story than chaos, suffering without meaning, and decline. This view holds that there is in fact order and meaning to life and that the circumstances you face are the circumstances you need to enhance your growth. It acknowledges the decline and disconnection of the modern condition but sees in them the prerequisite for the great reconnection to our magnitude. Now the decline fits in as part of the whole. It is redeemed. And to be in connection through our own choice and work is our greatest good, made possible only by the decline. The essential ingredient here is love. And the power to change everything is infinite.
Real resolution of this pandemic crisis is not simply deliverance from it in whatever form. Real resolution is deliverance by taking our own steps to expand beyond the worldview that diminishes us. We are here to grow, in service of others, fueled by love. And nothing is out of order. The coachmen of Growth are Discomfort and Fear and Sadness for what is left behind. Again, it’s interesting that our realization of this automatically diminishes the power of Fear and Confusion.
If you want one take away: go with the words of Damien Brinkley who says, “You are a great mighty and powerful spiritual being with dignity, direction, and purpose.”
Let’s live with that today.