The best thing about the pandemic uncertainty is the pandemic uncertainty….

The quiet of the many months of forced retreat have done me much good and somehow, I know I’m not alone in feeling that. The last thing I want to do is to make light of this awful virus which has claimed so many lives and left others with long term associated problems. But tragedies aside, and in the not too distant future, if all goes well with vaccines, many will look back on this time as a gift, a much needed opportunity to step out of a world of separation and duality into a place of unknowing and uncertainty and to try something different. It might sound strange to call a place of uncertainty ‘good’ but it’s the uncertainty of our lives that leads to great transformations as long as you’re anchored in something greater than the mighty self.

As someone who can easily overdo action and achievement it has been so restorative to re-remember the joy of unknowing. As a youngster and being brought up in the Catholic tradition I used to accompany my aunt to a tradition of that Church called the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It was a time to rest with the one who was without judgement, to be in God’s presence, a time to enjoy the silence, doing nothing but hanging out with my Abba, (Father, or nearer Daddy actually) and it was quite blissfully relaxing for its sense of peacefulness and the silence carried me off into deep meditation even as a young child, though I didn’t know how to describe that but meditation it was.

As Biologist and Anglican Rupert Sheldrake said in a recent interview, so many Catholic traditions, the Mass in particular, are right brain experiences and we are so in need of those kind of experiences in our world. In days gone by especially when the Mass was Latin, people paid less attention to the actual spoken words than to the power of the liturgy, the communal hymns, the incense, the deep symbolism of communion, the beauty of the buildings. They weren’t thinking analytically about whether this version of scripture was correct, but were very happy to let the words of the Gospel speak for themselves and sink into the psyche, or speak to their direct experience of life.

The recent solitude has made me think of the importance of being alone, to disengage from the endless rounds of deconstruction and analysis, certitude and clarity of opinion, being in the know and such like, all the fruits of the analytic mind. Everywhere we look words, words, words, (including this post!)  Richard Rohr often says that much of the present discord stems back to about 500 yrs ago and the invention of the printing press; that when things began to be written in printed form it gave the words a kind of unwarranted kudos and significance, as if they were any more important than knowledge by experience of life, the real knowledge!

Not that there is anything wrong with words of course. But if it’s only the analytical mind in charge then were in trouble and  unfortunately, ‘external knowing’ is the only game in town at our present time in all we do for most people and unfortunately, it is a mindset accompanied by much arrogance. It allows me to be right and you to be wrong, which pretty much controls the field because it’s a game of egos and it’s locked in an impossible duality. There is no room for uncertainty.

We have completely forgotten that this kind of analytical knowing must be balanced by not knowing, and the not needing to know, the space between knowing the right action or whether any action is required, ‘not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing’. This is a place where we can relax into intuition, we can sit in contemplation without any answers, but open to listening, curiosity, waiting, non-attachment, light heartedness. It’s a very different and altogether sounder way of seeing things, because we can drop the pretence of knowing anything actually. And these are the very things that being in lockdown or being away from the fray and naked before God, seems to make us aware of. When we see the irony of such an infinitesimally small virus bringing the whole world to a stop, we can surely let go of any illusion we have about being in control of our lives. There is nothing to focus the mind on its aspirations like the prospect of being robbed of life itself.

Pandemic uncertainty has invited us to reassess our priorities. As if God is opening up a new direction for us, perhaps to seek an entirely new perspective and new dimensions in our lives. To open up to new horizons but to relax into the controlling of them, to let the Spirit take care of the rest.

As they say in Zen, empty your teacup! You can’t learn anything if you already feel that you know because your preconceived prejudices prevent you from seeing truth. That’s the lesson we all need to hear it seems. We absolutely must maintain a humility before the great mystery of God. Only when you know you know nothing does life begin to make sense. You can embrace the uncertainty and trust that its ok to feel uncertain about your life when you look at it as a transformative period to find your purpose. “Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses towards growth”

And growth is always desirable.

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