My most favorite song line, (in the whole world,) was written by John Lennon. It’s the line smack dab in the middle of imagining a world with no borders, no religion, no greed or hunger. It’s the line that makes me cry every time: “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” I have intuitively known this to be true my whole life, I’m not the only one! Although, it can feel pretty lonely imagining good when surrounded with things that don’t look or feel very good. (And others wanting you to jump on the awful wagon with them.)
Life can take an unexpected turn in a moment. Last week much of Houston was underwater and this week more storms are moving through the Atlantic. Even the deeply spiritual individual can find his or her faith challenged in difficult times.
Spiritually speaking, doubt itself can be healthy. Soul searching grows us and reasoning on spiritual matters is fodder for deeper understanding and awareness. From this minister’s perspective, any storm has potential to push us to be spiritually and religiously creative and alive. The trials we live through can be highly productive for gaining wisdom and re-evaluating the things that really matter.
Our willingness to question what we believe can lead us to greater clarity. And giving ourselves permission to wonder and even doubt our beliefs is that fodder which carries us to deeper conversations… if we are brave enough to discuss such personal matters. Life advances us through change, and personal change can’t happen if we don’t examine and question our behaviors and beliefs from time to time.
Dr. Holmes wrote that nature doesn’t let us stay in one place for too long. “She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancement of the soul… Nature demands change in order that we might advance.” So the wise ones dare to re-examine everything, especially when storms move though our lives.
Storms come seemingly uninvited. Change that comes instantly through tragedy is more difficult to process, especially when great loss is experienced. I heard the song Imagine in my head this morning. And I heard that innocent line in the middle that asks us to imagine having no possessions. And Lennon was right, it wasn’t hard to do. One of our minister’s has a sister in north Houston who has lost all her possessions, so even though we live in the desert, a thousand miles away, Hurricane Harvey hit close to home.
As we have followed our “sister’s” story, we have become personally involved. I was struck by how different the impact of the hurricane felt to me, once I learned a family member had been evacuated. And as the days passed we were able to rejoice with her too, as she shared the stories of people helping people, total strangers united without judgment or bias.
As we watch our planet move through geo-physical events, as we witness chaotic conditions in which we imagine we have lost control, we are rich with opportunity to see that what we can control is our self. Our thoughts and actions are primed to respond in a larger way than ever before. But we cannot advance if we hang-on to our old ideas and behaviors.
Something new is emerging on the planet. It is not because of changing weather patterns or economic instability or politics and governance. What we witness unfolding on this planet is the effect of change, change that results from previous causes or choices. But we and this planet are created to be adaptable.
What we are witnessing is the adaptation of Life itself, and our current response determines our future, individually as well as shared. Life is changing because it has to change. The old ways are no longer effective and something greater is moving into expression. It’s the way life works. Life changes in order for us to continue. This planet constantly adapts because there is an unstoppable insistence of Life for life. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING.
That is not to say we can turn our backs on the fear and sadness that we collectively experience when devastating things unfold in the world. In fact, the current state of the world has awakened millions of souls. We’re having conversations we’ve needed to have for a long, long time.
And many have been called to live a more compassionate and caring, even a more giving life. And yet, it looks pretty chaotic on all levels. But when I want to remodel my home, things look pretty messy for awhile. As Pearl S. Buck once said, “All birth is messy.”
At the time of this writing a string of storms is on the move in the Atlantic. So what are the practical things we can do to manage the fear and confusion, even spiritual restlessness that such things stir up? If you’re directly impacted by something as devastating as a flood, there’s immediate work to be done. But those of us on the sidelines are shaken too. Here are a few suggestions to begin our own healing.
First: Acknowledge your own sadness around the events we have all witnessed from afar. Feel the heart ache because our willingness to feel is what creates compassion. And compassion is good for everyone.
Second: Look for positive stories in the news. Watch the videos of people helping people. Be acutely aware of thousands of ways strangers are helping strangers right now. This is humanity unified in action, a demonstration of the inter-connectedness of life. Expect to see good! Positive anticipation raises the state of one’s own well-being.
Third: If you can, DO SOMETHING! Give, help, pray, affirm the safety of all living beings affected. Join a prayer circle or meditation group or attend a service. A group consciousness is calming, uplifting, and productive for all.
Meanwhile, please be gentle with each other. In the July 2017 issue of Science of Mind magazine, Mitch Horowitz addressed our need to be sensitive in times of tragedy. He wrote, “Our theological responses must be based in compassion and a steely eyed realism about how the universe responds to these needs.”
We can respond with a listening ear and an open, tender heart. If someone in your life is worried about their loved ones in Texas, support them with your love – resist the temptation to cheer them up or try and fix them. Be kind, be present so they can be vulnerable enough to begin their own healing.
And if you are wrestling with your own questions, that’s o.k. Seek to remember there is a Power, an Intelligence that is greater than we are. We can call on that universal Truth. No single religion owns Truth. Something all-knowing and infinite created this life. Watch how quickly the gulf recovers. Pay attention to the way nature responds because as we witness the laws of nature, we can know the spiritual laws of the Universe are equally as powerful and active.
I share the sentiments of the great Christian mystic, Emma Curtis Hopkins when she said, “Lord, quicken me with heavenly fervor… Show me the words to make the world glad and sane.”
Together we can bless this planet and believe we’re not alone in imagining. I rejoice in knowing I am not the only one!