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Wisdom in Times of Crisis: Weekly Summary

Wisdom in Times of Crisis

Saturday, July 11, 2020
Summary: Sunday, July 5—Friday, July 10, 2020

The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But the mystery of transformation more often happens not when something new begins, but when something old falls apart. (Sunday)

We’re here for one thing, ultimately: to learn how to love, because God is love. Love is our origin, love is our ground, and love is our destiny. —James Finley (Monday)

Job’s religious friends and advisers have correct theory but no experience; thoughts about God, but no love of God. They believe in their theology; Job believes in the God of their theology. (Tuesday)

Who we are is held in the love of God from before time; and as we lean into that now in life and taste it, we’ll be prepared to really see death as the fullness of being and not as the lessening of it. —Cynthia Bourgeault (Wednesday)

As we experience discomfort in this time, let’s begin to dream of a new normal, a new normal that addresses the weaknesses and problems that were going unaddressed in the old normal. If we’re wise, we won’t go back; we’ll go forward. —Brian McLaren (Thursday)

As a spiritual practice, we can wake up to the possibility of building a new order. We can improvise those possibilities; try them out in the creative microcosm of a shared public life, realizing that our way of life before the pandemic was not perfect. —Barbara Holmes (Friday)

 

Practice: The Wisdom of Poetry

When I consider the call to contemplative awareness and solidarity offered by CAC teachers this week, I cannot think of a better practice than the exquisite poem “Pandemic” from poet and minister Lynn Ungar. It was written in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States before most of us were asked to stay at home. Even in those first moments, she envisioned a way of responding to the crisis with love, not fear. The wisdom of this poem goes far beyond the circumstances of the pandemic. May it serve as a guide as we embark on the work ahead of us— striving to eradicate the “viruses” of white supremacy and systemic injustice in the United States and the world.

Pandemic
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love—
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
—Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Reference:
Lynn Ungar, “Pandemic.” Used with permission. You can read more of Lynn’s poetry and learn about her work at http://www.lynnungar.com.

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, Job and the Mystery of Suffering (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1996)

Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern (Franciscan Media: 2020)

The full set of CAC faculty videos Wisdom in Times of Crisis (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020) is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiBbqGAOPnXMeKh7QaqCf9HU5ShaAEzeH

Image credit: Cueva de las Manos (detail), Cañadón del Río, Santa Cruz, Argentina. Photograph copyright ©️ 2012 Pablo Gimenez.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: As a spiritual practice we can wake up to the possibility of building a new order. We can improvise those possibilities; try them out in the creative microcosm of a shared public life, realizing that our way of life before the pandemic was not perfect. —Barbara Holmes
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