But here’s the thing. We are not products, but byproducts of a system we built “to better our lives.” Only we really haven’t done that either. Yes, we've created commodities that comfort us and have made great advances on estending our lives (or our buying power). But is that really living?
If this stay at home order has shown me anything it’s that we can survive the factory shutting down. We can survive as human beings. We can’t as products. We are not material beings, we are human beings. But we are actually more than that.
When the engines of the world restart, when the conveyor belt begins to move, I hope that we will remember what the ancient mystics taught us. That is, we are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience.
There is so much noise still going on across the airwaves to attract us to one side of the debate or the other. This noise will continue, and most likely grow louder the closer we get to reopening “normal.” But right now we’ve been given an opportunity to hear the quiet. We’ve been given this space to be fully awake, to experience true peace and calm. The universe is waking us up, reminding us of our true selves, our real reality. That is, not to work or fight ourselves to death, but to be fully alive and fully present. To be wide awake in ways we are only used to dreaming about.
A few decades ago a wise man wrote:
To be calm and quiet by yourself is not the same as sleeping. In fact, it means being fully awake and following with close attention every move going on inside of you. It requires the discipline to recognize the urge to get up and go as a temptation to look elsewhere for what is really close at hand. It offers the freedom to stroll through your own inner yard and rake up the leaves and clear the path so you can easily find the way to your heart. Perhaps there will be fear and uncertainty when you first come upon this “unfamiliar terrain,” but slowly and surely you will discover an order and a familiarity that deepens your longing to stay home with yourself.
I know we will do our best to safely restart our country and reset our economy. What it will look like is up to us. Some will try to dominate and, dare I say, dictate the way forward. But let us not forget that we hold the power reopen our own hearts and reset who we want to be.
I hope you will use this time, however much is left, to find and redefine yourself. To use this time to realign your heart with that spiritual being inside you so that your human experience will be the best it can possibly be. To borrow from the hucksters and marketers, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. What will we do with it? How will we transition our hearts, our homes, our lifestyles in such a way that commerce cannot help but follow.
A friend recently asked me, “What’s helping you stay positive during this pandemic?” My answer was simple. “I see this time as a gift we’ve been given to be still on the inside. One day we will miss this moment for what it is - a time of rest, a time of rediscovery, a time of renewal and reset.”
It’s time to be fully alive and really awake. It’s a time to stop dreaming who we want to be, and start living into being that person we’ve only dreamt about becoming. It’s a time to realize we are spiritual beings who are given a chance to have a human experience. How then will you experience this precious gift of life today, and moving forward?
Quote by Henri Nouwen, You Are The Beloved, (New York: Convergant, 2017).
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”