This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
I hope that you will use the Comments feature to participate with me and with each other. I believe it will be enriching to us all.
I stared out the window today looking at an unusual snowfall (for us) and a frozen landscape. I had also been reading non-stop about how easy it is to catch omicron, and it scares me. And then I had to remember all day whether this is Saturday or Sunday because of the holiday. I tried to name my condition. I thought maybe I was just feeling bereft (whatever exactly that means). I found myself trying to be clearer and mumbled maybe I had just "lost my fettle," but I didn’t really know what a fettle is either (and I probably made the word up anyway). So I tried another tack: maybe I was just discombobulated from the whole situation, but I also didn’t know what a “combobulate” was, at least not well enough to “dis.” it. I finally had to settle on accepting that I was just “off kilter,” and I don't know what a "kilter" is either, but it sounded more spiritual. But when you aren’t in fine fettle, and are bereft and discombobulated, its understandable that you are probably off kilter as well. I am reminded of the child’s toy of a gyroscope that you wound up and put it on a stretched string where it held mysteriously steady. My little spiritual, mental, internal gyroscope seems these days to have lost some of its spin and ability to keep me in balance - and the world’s “string" that is supposed to firmly hold my “gyroscope" isn’t all that steady either.
As I complain about feeling at loose ends (whatever that means) I am grateful, of course, that we are not facing a much worse major crises like a war or a series of earthquakes. But the crises of spiking numbers of Covid, devastating wildfires in Colorado, and 67 degree December temperatures in Alaska, for example, are crises enough this week. In response many of us feel we are living in a persistent low-grade crisis of spirit and confidence in ourselves and those around us, especially now with the heightened vigilance around getting the omicron virus. I have the sense that I am even more isolated, less trusting of others, and more resentful of those who fail to vaccinate and mask. (I learned this week I am susceptible to “empathy fatigue” in terms of how I feel about those who resist the vax and masking safeguards.) But mostly I just feel soul weary from it all, and I know I am not alone.
As I face into the new year, however, I find myself generally, perhaps surprisingly, positive given what I wrote above. Maybe it’s just that I find it healthier to be hopeful, but I am also encouraged by reports the omicron virus may be short-lived, and I keep hearing and seeing examples of integrity, courage, resourcefulness, and hope as I read about people dealing with harrowing hardships in their lives.* I have come to trust that there is a powerful resilience in our species in spite of all that threatens and harms us.
I followed closely, for example, the respectful, grateful, reverence given to Archbishop Desmond Tutu following his death earlier this week. His legacy is to not only to have courageously faced down apartheid, but even more importantly, he will be forever remembered for his role in his emotional bravery for administering the Truth and Reconciliation program that named and acknowledged the horrendous pain from the years of racism and abuse under apartheid. The Truth and Reconciliation program under Tutu, not only avoided the likelihood of continued civil war and vengeance at the end of apartheid, it established a new high-water mark for humanity’s capacity for forgiveness and reconciliation.
As we begin this new calendar year may our resolutions include daily acts of kindness, deeper listening both within ourselves and to others, and living within a context of the reconciling power of love and the liberating power of truth in our lives that may lead us to a deeper respect for the Mystery we call Creator or God. This is the spirit, after all, that will keep our little internal gyroscopes spinning strongly enough to steady and hold our moral compasses as they creatively, lovingly, direct our lives in 2022.
Blessings and peace,
*For powerful examples of creative courage in the face of adversity, I invite you to join me in checking out and supporting The Giraffe Project (www.giraffe.org) that honors all sorts of regional and international unsung heroes who “stick their necks out."