I don’t know what to make of all this. Of course, nearly 150,000 people on this planet make the Great Transition daily; this in itself is nothing extraordinary. But suffering is different than ‘mere death;’ it is more, and it is right that it elicits a different – pained – response in us.
I don’t know what to make of all this. But I do know – no, sense is more accurate – a few things:
We are all interconnected – matter, energy, spirit & biosphere. Not one organism or object on this planet or in this galaxy can claim independence from everything else. Christians believe that in Christ–the risen, ascended, cosmic Christ-all things coinhere. God in Christ is the All in all. This idea – God’s integral permeation of all reality – is normally one of great beauty. But from one vantage point at least, it offers cold comfort when contemplating life’s shadow side – rape, murder, enslavement, torture, ecological degradation, ‘natural’ disaster.
Theodicy, or ‘the problem of evil,’ is difficult no matter what faith, creed, or theology one subscribes to, and it haunts those who claim none of the above as well. I don’t intend to make this a “Where is God in ___” post or some kind of apologia for my hunch about this aspect of the universe, so let me move along.
In addition to sensing the love-based reliance of everything upon everything else, I sense how we are the answer to our own prayers. We have responsibility – or, if that seems too weighty, response-ability; the ability to respond to God’s clarion call to a fulfilled dream for life and creation. I’m not talking about some kind of Utopian fantasy; I am talking about increased awareness, compassion, and shalom on earth – here and now. We’re the answer to the universe’s prayer.
There will, in the face of these twin disasters, be much occasion for commentating, and voices to commentate. But for now, let’s join in some action and contemplation, shall we?
For action: Andrew Jones solicited these sources for aid-giving; do any of you know about any other groups strategically positioned to give? What about to China? I am going to be donating money to something soon, as well as remaining open to other ways of giving.
Recently I have renewed my centering prayer practice, a way of entering into awareness of God’s love, a path to apprenticeship unto Jesus with the end being the transformation of consciousness – mine and the universe’s.
It goes something like this:
1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. [I use El-Shaddai, God the Nourisher]
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
3. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
Now, what does this have to do with global disaster and upheaval? Everything. While I’m not willing to say, with the 20th-century Evangelical, “It’s all about the individual – change one heart and change the world,” I will affirm that my internal peace is a piece of global peace. And Jesus came to shed love abroad in our hearts, to impart Abba’s peace that transcends even understanding. So for me, accessing and dwelling in Spirit’s abundantly-offered peace is (or ought to be) the guiding orientation of my life.
But it isn’t just for me. Each choice that each of us make – each thought that we think – affects the harmony and balance of families, communities, cultures and ecosystems. And the thoughts we think as collectives are even more powerful. Thought is a type of energy – it reverberates in space itself. I’m not going all name-it claim-it or The Secret on you – just Proverbs 18 and 23. So why not set my heart by divine rhythms?
I believe that we are, by God’s grace, the leaves of Life’s Tree that are for the healing of nations. For me, this is a season of becoming ever-more rooted in the soil of New Earth, of being ever-more watered by Life’s River. I have come to see that literally everything depends on this. If we are not avatars of agape walking this God-blessed creation, why live? In the words of Meister Eckhart: “Jesus might have said, ‘I became man for you. If you do not become God for me, you wrong me.’ ”