I am wondering how you are as we move into the third month of self-isolating. Sylvia and I look out the windows of our sun room and say to each other, “It doesn’t look dangerous out there.” And then we remember the news and tell each other that we feel safe on our own property and in our own home. And we continue to self-isolate. With the nice weather, we are out in our garden daily and so are our neighbors. So that gives us an opportunity to meet with people over the fence. Our family dropped by with flowers for Mother’s Day, respecting the 6-foot distancing, and we enjoyed face to face conversations.
I spend a lot of time reading, attending Zoom seminars, and reflecting on my place in a changing world. I have begun to live into the Easter and post-Easter Christian scriptures. In my imagination I think this must be similar to the disciples in the upper room after they experienced a world-shattering event (the death of Jesus and then rumours he was not dead). Confusing information and personal experiences led them to believe that waiting together was the right thing to do. This would lead to the fulfillment of the promise that the Spirit would come to them and lead them out of their current situation. I am sure they did not have a clue what that would look like, as they wondered, waited questioned and encouraged one another.
Coincidentally (are there really any coincidences?) I was reminded of Mark Nepo’s book, The Exquisite Risk, and read a few pages from the chapter by the same title. A portion from the first paragraph says, “At any moment, if quiet enough and open enough, we can drop into the fabric or existence in which everything, even pain, has its vivid signature of energy that we call, at different times, truth or beauty or peace. It is from this ground of being that we know and feel the unseeable web of connection between all life…. The exquisite risk that St. John speaks of is twofold: the risk to still our own house so that Spirit can come through, so that we might drop into the vital nature of things, and the risk to then let that beautiful knowing inform our days.”
The pandemic is the backdrop of our life right now, wherever we are in the world. I find more people writing about this time with hope that this just might be the way our life is re-shaped and renewed. If we can still our lives long enough to be in the moment, if we spend time contemplating what our lives are about and what is wrong with us as a society, and the ways we can be different, it might just be the catalyst for the emerging of a more just society. I read an article (but I didn’t keep it unfortunately) about how the plagues of the 13th and 16th centuries changed the social and political order of the day. The question now on the lips of many people is “How do we make our world more equitable and how do we make the changes that seem so needed yet so impossible?” And then, all of a sudden, our world is torn apart. And there is an opportunity to create a new normal. There is more awareness of us being in this together, and about caring for each other rather than fighting with each other. I hear more people saying they appreciate the slowing down.
I am part of a group in Calgary called The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good. We have become an influential alliance of 39 agencies, spiritual communities and unions who are working for solutions to community concerns in the areas of social isolation, seniors staying in their homes, indigenous relations, mental health and addictions. And now we have a task force working toward encouraging the federal government to establish a basic income in our country. There is a growing movement of political, social and business groups that understand how a basic income would save governments a lot of money and improve the lives of many vulnerable people. The end of this pandemic may be a long way away, which gives us time to embrace changes in the way we show up in this world.
Waiting for the Spirit is waiting for the energy for a new life that will send us out the door in a new way with a new message of love and understanding. It is not something that we can invent, it is not cobbling together the hopes and dreams of yesterday. Rather, it is a light coming from the future showing us who we can be, along with an energy to be a part of what is to come.
The disciples waited for 50 days and I am sure on day 37 and 49 some of the disciples were complaining and getting restless, “How long are we going to wait for something to happen? This is boring and we are tired of waiting.” I’m sure the disciples got on each other’s nerves living together in a small area, yet I am also sure they took time to pray, reflect, and talk about important things, preparing for the time when they would be moving on.