-Rev. Paul Martin
Why did the Corona Virus happen? Perhaps, correspondentially it has to do with our weakened overall health and immune systems (spiritual health), especially as related to the lungs (understanding). In general I would say this is more of a medical question than a spiritual one, however. Why do things happen? Wrong question! The spiritual question is, what can we learn from what is happening, or how can we use what is happening for good?
Chaos and Order
For things to reemerge on a higher level, first there has to be a breaking down of the old ways. When we are ready, though we may not feel it, we have to let go of the way things have been and flounder a while, until we find a new order. The Israelites had to leave Egypt behind and wander in the desert for 40 years before they could find the Promised Land.
What can we learn collectively from this experience to improve our world? What do we need to leave behind? Can we become more compassionate toward those with the disease, their families, those out of work, and those countries and communities of color and low income who are hit hardest by this, as they once again take the worst of the economic, environmental, and health consequences of global affairs? Can we become more tolerant, less divisive and more unified? Belden Lane, wrote “What we’ve never been able to confess together in creed, we’re now able to pray together in need.” A crisis that affects all of us can bring us together.
Death and Rebirth
How does this affect each one of us individually. Easter is all about Death and Rebirth. Old habits, ways of relating, being, and living have to die, to be released, before we can be reborn into a new way of living. How are you using this time to reorder your own life? I hear stories of some people overeating, overdrinking, and watching TV all day. Others are using this as a time to reflect and reexamine their lives, to think how they want to come out of this a new or better person.
Crisis and Opportunity
At Mosswood Hollow all of our workshops have been canceled for at least four months. Although we are worried from a financial point of view, we are choosing to look at this as an opportunity. There are so many things we have not had time for while hosting workshops. We are clearing decades of collected papers, books, clothes, and unnecessary and unwanted junk, making our living environment cleaner and more sacred. We even took everything out of the first floor of our house and had our floors refinished. We are putting together a green house and planting a large garden. We are taking a break from alcohol after years of overindulging. We are turning off the TV and talking and reading more. I am taking long walks through uninhabited woodlands and watching spring come, as it will, blissfully unaware of the pandemic.
The natural world is almost unaffected, in some aspects better off, as the air quality improves as a result of less burning of fossil fuels.We don’t choose or cause everything that happens to us, but we do choose how we are going to respond. As our daughter, Hilary, wrote in a recent email, “The virus is clearly contagious, but so is panic, fear, hysteria, care, love, enthusiasm, kindness, joy, levity… I’m doing my best to take all responsible precautions while choosing wisely from that list.”
Recovery or Rebirth
Perhaps the most important question is whether we will simply recover or be reborn? Will this be remembered merely as a sickness we all endured, before recovering and getting back to our old routines and ways of life? Or we will we emerge from this as a different world, a different country, and different people? This is quite a powerful and profound opportunity to examine our lives and our relationships to each other, to our communities, to our world, and to the earth.
Let us choose this Easter to be reborn!
Rev. Paul Martin is a minister in the Swedenborgian Church of North America, and, together with his wife Sandra directs Mosswood Hollow Retreat Center outside of Seattle, Washington, of fulfilling a longtime vision of providing a space for people to comoute to for learning, healing and renewal. Rev. Paul is also involved at Swedenborgian Church of Pudget Sound.