End of the World or a Mobilization of Hope?

July 2

It is my experience that many who struggle with anxiety can become ill by bad news and even rumours of bad news. There was a wave of anxiety and fear when the province went into lock down. One rumour, (sadly propagated by some Christians,) was that Covid is a punishment from God, or an Omen that the end of the world is imminent.

Brain and Feelings can have a conversation that could go something like this:

Brain: Where do these feelings originate?
Feelings: I don’t know … I just feel so unsettled. What’s going to happen? I feel like things are out of my control!

Brain: When have you ever been able to control nature? Do you remember the story King Canute of England who set his golden chair on the sea’s edge and told the tide to stop? How did that work for him? Have we ever been able to divert a rain storm from a flooded area to a draught area?

Feelings: I can’t control it but God can. Why did God let it happen? Why doesn’t he stop it? Can’t he see that people are hurting? Doesn’t he care?
Brain: You are a parent. Can you think of any circumstance whatsoever in which you would reject your children and cause them to suffer?

Feelings: well, no.
Brain: what makes you think that you are more loving than is Creator?

Feelings: So, the world isn’t going to end?
Brain: I don’t know! No one knows. People have been saying that for centuries, and it feels ominous when natural disasters like Covid, Floods, Fires, and Hurricanes happen. That’s not the point! Death happens all the time, not just our physical deaths, but every change comes with a “death” of the old way of thinking and doing. That’s the natural way of the world. One of things that Covid has demonstrated is that we are all connected: Canadians and East Indians, old and young, rich and poor. I see hope in the “death” of thinking that our lives are separate and disconnected from one another. Spiritual wisdom calls us to be open to mature and grow, and to make the most of the time that we have by caring for one another and walking gently on the earth.

Outside of the universe there is a Creative, Generative, Loving, All-knowing, Everywhere Present Spirit, according to the creeds of Christian, Jew, Moslem, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, North American Indigenous and perhaps others. We could call the Creator “supernatural” because S/he/it created nature and is larger than nature.

The wisdom of many of the world’s religious traditions is that the Supreme Being is not only outside the universe but entirely Natural. Every element of creation is infused with Divine Presence.

Every element of creation is infused with Divine Presence. We are all present in the Divine. The Divine is not a heavenly Santa Claus with a mandate to grant our wishes, be the wishes ever so noble or self-less. If we are honest, we have all experienced disappointment in prayer, and it isn’t because our prayer was not good, or we didn’t pray with enough faith. The Divine usually acts through the natural laws and forces that She has put in place. He always rejoices and/or suffers with us.

Can prayer change “the mind” of the Supreme Being so that S/he/it intervenes in a way that is supernatural to save lives, heal disease, provide for our basic needs, bring prosperity? Prayer is relationship; it is recognizing that we are part of the Divine and the Divine is part of us -collectively. 

Our healing is a result of our belonging to and caring for one another.  Jesus’ healing in the gospel stories always restored people to relationship and belonging in the community. That was the primary healing. I have witnessed and participated in real miracles of healing of spirits, minds, bodies and relationships that seemed unlikely or impossible but were these supernatural, or entirely within the Divine’s natural laws which are beyond our present understanding? 

Buddist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “people usually consider walking on water or on thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or on thin air but to walk on the earth. Everyday we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize… All is a miracle.”

Barbara A. Holmes writes, “When you least expect it, during the most mundane daily tasks, a shift of focus occurs. This shift bends us toward the universe, a cosmos of soul and spirit, bone and flesh, which constantly reaches toward divinity.”

“The ordinary”, everyday things of our lives are extraordinary … when we open our senses and our minds to experience life with wonder and awe.