The news spread rapidly across the country that a dangerous new virus was in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was also infecting the east coast of the United States and like so many news flashes, most of us didn’t pay much attention to it as we went about our daily business. But in March of 2020, the virus began spreading rapidly over New York and other states like a dark pall while authorities downplayed what became a global epidemic, ‘pandemic’ of catastrophic proportion.
By April, churches, restaurants, bars, and businesses of all kinds were shut down and unable to do business as usual. Hospitals became way stations for the infected while millions of people watched television in horror at the wave of infections catching fire across our country in cities, towns, and institutions. Scientists and politicians informed the public with mix messages while infection and death rates continued to spike. Pundits sought to find ‘experts’ to help relieve the confusion while shutdowns, masks, social distancing, and quarantines became common.
Eventually, as hospitals became overrun with patients, health professionals worked overtime to stem the flood of infections while common folk argued at the efficacy of wearing masks, social distancing, and staying home. A political divide was created by those who took the pandemic seriously and those that thought it was another political stunt or hoax. One year later, over five hundred thousand people died, with more on the way. This was more American deaths than took place in WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam war combined. One wonders at the process of learning!
If the whole of life from birth to death is an ongoing process of learning, what have you learned from this pandemic that we’ve all lived in this past year? What have you learned about yourself, your family, neighbors, clergy, politicians, physicians, teachers, family members, associates, and friends? What have you learned about ‘business as usual’ and ‘no more business as usual?’ What have you learned about love, life, the interconnectivity of our global village, and how has this experience changed how you perceive your meaning, purpose, family, culture, and nation?
As you look back over this past year and longingly look out over the next years, what insights can you glean from where you’ve come from, where you’re going, and how you’re going to be as time goes by? As more people receive vaccinations, what new ways of living are you ready to engage? Have you pondered what you want the ‘new normal’ to be for you and yours? As for me, I’m a bit pensive about what’s to be for us going forward. I’m sensing a significant shift within the kosmic order that’s asking us to reevaluate our previous expectations, needs, wants, and desires.
What benefit is there if we gain the whole world and lose our own souls, and what if the only prayer we’d ever have is ‘Thank You’ and really mean it, no matter what the circumstances? How would this change the way we live, love, and learn? What if thankfulness is larger than receiving? What if it actually expands in giving? What if a truly thankful heart opens us to extraordinary blessings and the more grateful we are, the more beauty we can see and be? What if we would recontextualize all the negatives into positive frames of reference, to see through the sadness, fear, and loss into a new way of being and belonging that transforms transitions? ? ?
As I’ve been reflecting on all the darkness, loss, contraction, and sadness; I’ve also been reflecting on the so called opposites of light, gain, expansion, and joy. These seem to be opposing forces but are actually complimentary energies. As we look closely, they are two hands of the same body. There is giving and receiving, life and death, ebbing and flowing and all other dualities. But are they not also nondualities, two sides of the same coin that make up this world? Lifetime learning shows up in every moment of everyday when we’re awake to it. This past year has been a global graduate course in duality and nonduality and as we sit deeply in it, everything changes.
I was with my father when he died, passed away to the beyond. After he left his physical form in the hospital bed, he put his invisible hand on my shoulder and said in some way that registered in my psyche: “I’m fine. Now it’s up to you.” What this said to me is that life goes on in ways we don’t know and to be thankful and honor what has been while moving on into what can be. It’s an ongoing transition that most of us don’t like to think about, talk about, or experience but, it’s one of the nondual realities of life; the lifelong learning that life, death, and new life are One.
So, here we are and here we’ll be until that time comes when we transform into another reality. With lifetime learning, we explore the inner reaches of outer space and the outer reaches of inner space…..hopefully with loving companion presence and soulful grace. For there to be lifetime learning, we need to be more awake and aware of life’s nonduality. Embracing this, we will learn from the moment of birth to the moment of death, where the journey still continues. It’s our task to keep loving and learning as we, and so many others, are the ones we’ve been waiting for! ! !
- If life is a mystery, as I believe it is, then we’re called to learn as much as possible about this shared life. Carve out some time and space this week to sit deeply in this reflection. Open your heart and mind to a more expanded view and ponder the mystery that’s in you.
- Reflect on what you’re engaged in learning at this time of your life. Is it more about the material life or the spiritual life? What are the benefits of learning both? How is what you are learning helping you navigate the winds of change? What are the Blessings?
- When you’re in a space of conflict, look at both sides and see how they’re connected. Note their complimentary nature. Follow the emotional direction of each side and see which adds more love and beauty. Relax, release, review. Realign, remember, renew. . . .