Saturday, April 4, 2020
Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, April 4, 2020 - All Shall Be Well
A thought regularly occurs to me that a cell often mutates to its advantage when forced by outside circumstances. If I understand it correctly, mutations occur when life is exposed to a drastic change of situation. Right down to the cellular level we adapt to adversity through the act of mutation. I’m sure it will please many fans of the Marvel Universe to know we are all to become mutants now.
They say a kick in the ass is good for the soul. Let’s see what attributes we can add to the complement of our souls right now.
The reason we go to church, the reason we follow spiritual teachings or good advice of any kind, is so that we know what to do when faced with a crisis. So that we know how to act. How to make our choices when fear is speaking much more loudly than normal.
In church, or while sitting and listening to spiritual teachers, while we are calm, and relaxed, we are methodically taught principles of ethical and humane standards of behavior so that we know exactly what to do—on instinct—when, as my mother says, “the defecation hits the rotary oscillator.” Life is where we practice what we have been taught.
A spiritual practice is training for moments like this. Are you scared? That is to be understood. What are you doing with your fear? How is it functioning in your life? It is definitely functioning in your life. It always does. But its authority ebbs and flows with what’s going on in your environment. How is fear functioning for you right now? What actions do you take that you can trace back to fear?
When you put hand sanitizer on, what are you thinking? When you are wiping down a surface or a door knob, what are you thinking right then? Check your thoughts. You can improve the quality of the circumstance and the actions you take by noticing what you think with regard to your fear.
The other day, a friend of mine from elementary school, whom I haven’t seen in years but know through social media, dropped off 10 handmade filtered surgical masks for me to give to my husband to share with his colleagues at the local clinic. I am so grateful for them and for her.
What were her thoughts as she made those masks? I can ask her. I probably will. But I can guess now that she wasn’t imbuing the fibers of those masks with fear. She was sewing them with love and prayer and good wishes. She was sewing them in hope that that mask-to-be under her fingers would be blessed enough to prevent someone from dying or getting sick at all. She was infusing the fibers of that material with prayer.
That’s what you should be doing with your fear. Finding something useful to do with it and counteract your concern with actions that rise to the level of prayer.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. It’s a day commemorating when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, along with over 2 million other Jews, in anticipation of Passover.
A fragile political and economic situation threatened to imbalance itself in social upheaval at any point during the week before Passover. The Governor, Pontius Pilate normally didn’t come to Jerusalem at all except for moments when he had to remind them of his power and authority lest they should get to uppity.
But into that fragile system Jesus entered and proceeded to make the biggest stink imaginable in the most central location available before exactly those who stood the most to gain by his removal. Jesus martyred himself.
And if we believe him to be special, if we believe him to have had at least a special relationship with God, or if perhaps we simply believe that he was particularly enlightened and wise, one thing is certain: Jesus was shrewd. He understood what it takes to elicit a mutation in the system.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem he was setting in motion a chain of events with the intended eventual outcome to be peace on earth. And he walked as a lit match straight into a powderkeg on purpose. That is why we honor him. He had great courage to do what he did and in the way he did it. The ripple effect is still being felt and the teachings ring forward with it.
In my Fitchburg congregation we sing a short phrase of a Julian of Norwich quote, “All Shall Be Well.” If you were to ask Julian who said it to her, however, her answer would have been: Jesus. Shortly before becoming a cloistered anchorite in the 14th century, she was taken ill and nearly died. She experienced a series of visions. In one, Jesus answered her question to why so much sin exists in the world by saying that sin was appropriate and necessary for what’s to come. But he stressed the fact that everything would be OK. In the vision as he finished answering her he said, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.“
What kind of moment are we experiencing here? Are we a cell about to mutate? Yes. Are we about to mutate to our advantage? Likely yes. But it is up to us just how far we go with it.
When I look between the lines of the teachings, and how they occurred, and the manner in which we have continued to share the stories of them, it leads me to believe that God does not create our suffering. God gives us the method to rise above it. In this sense God is neither the destruction nor the creation. We have been created to thrive. We have been gifted with teachings that help us to make bold and exceptional use of adversity to elevate ourselves & exhibit compassion.
We have a choice over how many martyrs it will take to mutate the system as it stands right now. We have enough knowledge and skill to stop this disease in its tracks. We have a choice about how our system changes from here.
Tomorrow, as Christianity honors Jesus, we honor all those radicals and revolutionaries who instigate deep and lasting positive change, and who inspire new thought, and who motivate in us our inherent benevolence. Peace be upon them all. The system cannot recalibrate without them.
Posted by Wil Darcangelo, M.Div. at 12:00 AM