It’s week two of working from home + a month or so into the pandemic. I can’t believe that that sentence is even reality. How is this the world we are living in? Whether we can comprehend it or not, it is what it is. And, so, here I am with another update. This week, though, instead of just going through my day to day experiences, I want (I need) to write about how I am starting to find some deeper messages + meanings in the midst of our global crisis. Messages + meanings that speak to both our global, collective family + to us as individuals. Messages that help me look forward, but also help me to deal with the present.
(All of my photos in this post are taken from this week, so you’re getting a visual “working from home: week 2” update. Mostly it’s moments of home, meditation, frustration, stress, exhaustion, glorious sunshine, and connecting with nature. And coffee. Cuz if there’s one thing I’m doing, it’s drinking a shitload of coffee.)
My foundational worldview: Finding meanings as a mystic
I am a theologian. And by that, I mean that I study + use ideas, beliefs, and spirituality to think about the divine, our relation to the divine, and how to find meaning in our life. The thing is, I don’t just think about all of this. The purpose for me is to ponder all of these things + then apply them in everyday life. As a way to live a more mindful, intentional, conscious life that not only seeks peace + awakening for myself, but that also makes a difference in the world in which I live.
My theology grew from Christianity, but has blossomed throughout the years into a theology that follows + connects with the mystical traditions of many religions.
Being a mystic means that the deepest belief I have is that all of life is sacred. That spirituality is not something we believe in or think about (that’s the theology behind it all), but that spirituality is how we live. Spirituality is not something separate from our lives, but it is infused into who we are + how we show up in the world.
So in the midst of anything… a day at work, making dinner, a new season, a walk in nature, playtime with our kids, making the bed, drinking beer with friends, and, yes, even in the midst of a pandemic… I am seeking the sacred truth + a glimpse of the divine right in the middle of it all. I want to soak in the beauty of everything. To be aware + observant. And, to also know what this moment in time, or this experience, or this moment has to say to me on a deeper level. And, then, how I can use that deeper truth to create a more awakened, just, present, and balanced existence for myself + for the planet.
As a mystic, this is the truth that I know to be real: Everything, everyone, music + art, all of nature, even suffering + death, all of life’s moments… all of it… is sacred. And, because of that sacredness, there is something holy, magical, and meaningful to be found in every single experience.
This is the grounding belief of all of my thoughts + words + actions. This mystical theology of the presence of the divine + sacred in every living thing + throughout all of life. Even, and perhaps especially, in the midst of a global pandemic.
Grounded + anchored in the way of the mystic: It ain’t all bliss
My mystical theology is not just something I “believe” in. I follow in the footsteps of a long line of mystics from Buddha to Julian of Norwich to Thomas Merton to Jesus to yogis to indigenous medicine men + women all across the world + all throughout time that see the sacred in the everyday. I am simply one more soul that follows the path of the mystic, of finding + teaching deeper meanings in the midst of everyday life.
But, in case you were wondering or are a bit skeptical, the way of the mystic is not just some unseen, imagined, blissful life of happy moments or awakening + enlightenment. It’s actually the complete opposite. It’s finding hope in the dark. Sacredness even in the shit. You see, the way of the mystic is actually grounded + rooted in everyday life. In everything that is right in front of us. And it is choosing to see + experience that all of what we live through (good, bad, and ugly) is sacred… offering some deeper meaning to us.
Mystics ground + center and anchor themselves in deep truths. In the soul knowledge + intuition + wisdom that even though we do not understand, even though it is all a mystery, even though it seems paradoxical + impossible, life rises from death. Hope lives on. Transformation occurs in suffering. Darkness hold potential. Night becomes day. Day settles into night. Love + energy flow through it all.
The deeper meanings of earth’s medicine
The most obvious, grounded example of these truths, I believe, are found in the earth herself. Nature shares deeper meanings of life with us continuously. Annually, monthly, daily. The earth offers her medicine to us as a sacred potion to help us stay anchored + rooted in those great cosmic mystical truths of the sacredness of it all by simply cycling through her natural rhythms.
And, right now, in the middle of our uneasiness + fear during the Coronavirus pandemic, mother earth is speaking to us. Reminding us of the deeper meanings of the cycle of life.
Just a week ago, no matter where we are in the world, the seasons changed. We shifted from winter to spring + summer to autumn. Regardless of what season we have now entered, the earth offers us the medicine of the cycle of life- death-rebirth as a reminder that all of life is a cycle of birthing, growing, surrendering, and being reborn. It’s how we learn + grow. It’s how we evolve. There are beginnings + endings, and every ending is a new beginning.
In the middle of this global crisis, it serves us well to look to the earth’s cycles + rhythms to help us see the bigger picture. We are evolving. It’s a painful, frightening process. But, we are being transformed. Moving from one way of living to another. And, damn, it’s tough. It’s fucking fucked up. And it feels never ending.
But the earth tells us to step back. To ground down. To pause + breathe. To slow down to her pace + to perhaps even reprioritize everything about our lives. What we thought was important before the Covid-19 pandemic may be changing. Life after Covid-19 will not at all resembles life before. It’s already shifted, hasn’t it?
The arrival of season of spring literally shows us that this is true. How we’ve done things in the past does not exist anymore. In the autumn, we had to let go + release + settle into the dark, cold winter. But, we survived the winter once again. We rested + hibernated + turned inward. And, now, the earth is awakening. Spring is arriving.
In this pandemic so far, we’ve had to let go + release + and settle into this dark, scary, critical, life-changing time. But, we do that with the deep inner knowledge that from the depths of this seemingly never ending, hopeless, deadly time… we will rise again. Life will be reborn anew. And we all will be changed.
Finding deeper meanings in the wilderness
But, right now, we are in the fucking wilderness. Feeling lost. Literally experiencing isolation. Not knowing what the future will look like. Not knowing how this disease will be in a week or a day. Not knowing how bad it might get. Or how long it might last. Not knowing the next time we can hug or see loved ones in real life. Not knowing when we return to work. Not knowing what work + society + the world will even look like. Not knowing any fucking thing.
And it’s scary. And frustrating. And heartbreaking. And difficult. And tough. And, right now, the only thing we can do is adapt + adjust + accept. The only thing we have is the present moment. That’s the only thing that’s certain.
So, the one of deeper meanings that I find in this wilderness time are that we are literally called to slow down. To face it. To feel it. But, how do we do that when this wilderness is so fucking scary?
We do it because we have the deeper meanings of nature, earth, and love to remind us that this is part of our evolution. How we face it, is by digging in + being present.
We’ve been given a weird gift. Physical + social distancing. Isolation. Time apart. Time in our homes. So, if we choose, we’ve got this forced time at home that we can use to ground down, center ourselves, and anchor ourselves to whatever deeper meanings we find in our own souls.
Ancient mystics often retreated to the desert + the wilderness to reconnect with their souls + the divine. It was a time for fasting, for giving up, for living simply, for re-centering, for reprioritizing, for sinking down, for reconnecting with the divine, for remembering. But, it wasn’t easy. It was a time of isolation. And in those lonely, quiet times, just as it is with us, dark thoughts arise. We’re faced with our own inner demons, our shadow selves, our fears. It hurts + it’s scary. But it’s alchemical. It’s transformative. It’s an inner journey that changes the outer life.
There has always been a deep connection between the way of the mystic + the medicine of nature. Native Americans send young adults out into the wild on vision quests in order to find their purpose, their calling, and their unique gift to bring back + offer the tribe. Jewish + Christian mystics wandered into the desert to quiet their minds + live in prayer, as an offering to society. Buddha went out to sit under a tree, connecting to his soul, reaching enlightenment through his own wilderness time. And, Jesus, spent 40 days out in the desert, fighting his own demons + accepting his calling to preach a message of love + hope to all people. Women + men throughout the ages have cloistered themselves, hidden out in cabins, set themselves apart in order to connect with nature, soaking in the wisdom of the earth, only to then, from their grounded + centered places, offer all of that wisdom to others – through writings, talks, lessons, and spiritual guidance.
Mind you, these spiritual retreats + times of self isolation weren’t easy. They weren’t a vacation to get away. They were times of hard, deep inner work + physical challenges. Willingness to surrender to the present moment + the present situation by wandering in the wilderness, returning to the center of the soul, facing the dark night + the unknown, is a difficult choice. But, it is just this conscious choice that we stand in front of right now.
There’s no denying it. The world is wandering in the wilderness right now. We are experiencing a collective dark night of the soul. We are also experiencing our own individual challenges, demons, fears, and stresses. How we choose to use this time, how we choose to face each moment + to live each day, is a decision that we can only make for ourselves. But, what + how we choose affects one another. We are isolated, yes. But, we are deeply connected in our sacredness + our solidarity in this pandemic.
The deeper meanings on the other side of this
I have no idea what lies on the other side of this pandemic. I cannot even imagine what tomorrow holds, to be honest. But, what I do know is that we are still here. That love still exists. And that change is occurring. I know that hope is alive, because I see it outside my window.
It’s hard to know anything these days. But, the deeper meanings that began to rise in my soul this past week reminded me of a few things that I believe of which we can be certain.
- There is sacredness in every single thing + every single moment. (the way of the mystic)
- The rhythms of the earth are universal truths of life, death, and rebirth. And are an example of how we evolve with nature.
- We only have the present moment – even if it is the frightening wilderness. And, this moment offers us the gift of realigning our lives with the flow of nature, of finding the sacredness in every moment, and of being transformed because of our willingness to ground + anchor ourselves in the present moment.
For us in the northern hemisphere, we are now sinking into the season of spring. All around there are signs of life + rebirth. It’s happening even as we are stuck inside our homes, given recommendations + restrictions about gathering together, and banned from living our “regular” lives. Hope is still alive. From the depth of the darkness + deadness of winter, rises one small shoot, one small bud, one tiny baby bird, one new calf, longer days, warmer days.
Surely this must also be true for us too, for we are a part of nature.
We may not feel the hope right now. We may only feel the anxiety, the fear, the worry, the stress, the boredom… and that is how it is, if that’s how it is. But, this will pass. The rhythms + cycles of nature will continue. All that we need to do is remain present. It doesn’t mean that everything will be ok. But, it does mean that, even in the suffering, and even in the death, life + energy + hope + love move onward.
We were made for this time
As much as it may not feel like it, we were born for this time. We have been preparing for this. We can make it through. What we do right now, today, and how we face this present moment of wilderness + fear is in our hands. And our hands were made for creating, for growing, for leading, for guiding, for helping.
In this wilderness we are receiving our callings. So, while we are stuck at home, while we cannot travel, while we cannot work in the same ways, while we must relearn our routines + our ways of caring for ourselves + for each other, we are being called to listen + observe + notice what becomes important in these Covid-19 times.
In our own unique ways, we each have something to offer to the world right now. And this is a very weird, unexpected, sacred time in which we can sink down, dig in, and go deep within our souls to discover + unearth exactly what it is that this world needs from us.
When this is all over, we will rise. From the ground up. Pushing through it all. We will build something new. Awakened, transformed as individual + collective souls. Into a whole new world. The possibilities are endless. And our only mission right now is to anchor ourselves in this present moment. For even this moment is sacred.
stay safe, loves. xoxo. liz.