Fine Not Fine

Fine Not Fine

Presented on-line May 4th, 2020   Rev. Fiona Heath

I am fine and not fine. I suspect that is true of just about all of us.

Fine and not fine.

I am fine. Fortunate to be comfortable at home with companionship, still working with all of you lovely people, in good health and with no one close to me suffering from COVID-19.

And I am not fine. I am so tired of being isolated at home, missing the beautiful liveliness of public life, missing family and friends.

I am fine. I can be patient, I can endure, and I know this too shall pass.

And I am not fine. While we have hopes of a lifting shutdown, without a vaccine there is no clear path forward without a resurgence. It’s worrying.

I am fine.  And I am not fine. So it goes, like a pendulum swinging back and forth.

It’s normal to feel more feelings and feel them more strongly when adjusting to seismic social shifts. I try to accept them and breathe through.  And this has been a seismic social shift.

We have lost a lot of personal power:  we have no influence on when we will be able to move about freely in the world again.

For those with privilege – white, middle class, educated – we have been taught that we create our own lives, that if we work hard we can achieve whatever we want. We are encouraged to be true to ourselves, to follow our bliss, fulfil our potential.

Each individual is the authority of their own lives.  And now it’s all about being part of a collective.

We are having choices made for us, big ones that are impacting livelihoods and family connections. It’s like we each went from being the queen bee in our personally designed hive to being a worker bee in a global hive.

We don’t have control anymore. We are small bees in a giant hive.

And the hive is making decisions for the collective good, trying to protect the vulnerable, protect health care systems, prevent as many deaths as possible. All we can do is follow along, staying isolated, losing jobs, risking lives as essential workers, and hope that these collective choices make a difference.

How they impact us individually is less important then how they impact the whole. And that’s hard. We aren’t used to mattering so little, having so little agency.

I can’t imagine how the people on total lockdown in Spain and Italy felt. But I also think it’s an important shift for western society – the perspective shift from queen bee to worker bee.

Being a small part of a very great whole is a perspective we haven’t been asked to experience before. At least I haven’t. Those of you who have lived through communism or who have military experience may have. But most of us haven’t been asked to sacrifice for others like this.

To let go of our self importance and help or get out of the way. It’s a very visceral experience of knowing that all life on earth is connected and we are just one small part.

A few bees in a great global hive, just part of the buzz. I don’t like feeling small. I don’t like having so little control over what I do and where I go.

And while I struggle with it, I think this experience may be a gift.

A gift of perspective – of seeing how deeply our lives are entwined with one another.   I would not have thought that transactions at a meat market in Wuhan China would ever impact on my life.

But we can see those connections now. The air I breathe is indisputably the air you breathe too.

Not only are we living out the truth of our seventh principle, the interdependent web of life, but we are also now living our sixth principle – the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

We are part of a world community, this global shutdown is an act of justice – a way to protect those who are vulnerable. We now have the opportunity to live our principles in a very real way. To live as a small part of a great whole of people and planet.

This is a gift of perspective.

&

We have been given the gift of living our principles in this world community. And there is another gift.

The reduction of our lives to the small bubbles of our households – and for some the intensity of work as well – is a gift of being. We are a goal oriented society scheduling and planning everything weeks in advance, and just being – just being alive and present – that is unproductive.

This reduction of our lives can be a gift, an opportunity to breathe and be more deeply – to experience that intangible sense of self – the spark of life and light within.

Words don’t explain it very well. It’s an experience of being more yourself and less yourself. Less the mind full of wants and needs and more the deeper presence of being, absorbed into life.

It helps to have daily patterns which can bring you into the here and now. It might be a regular meditation practice, or yoga, or daily walk,something that gets you into your body. I have one friend who puts on one loud song each day and dances like a maniac.

Or you might prefer a spiritual practice like a daily reading or gratitude journal or singing each day. Or it can simply be a daily routine done with more intention.

For me, this is making my morning pot of tea. Over the years I have developed a routine, using favourite mugs and particular tea spoons, with special teas. When I take my time with preparing the tea and pay attention to the first few sips – all these ritual actions taken together help make me more me.

With my focus on the act of making tea or drinking tea, movements I have done daily for years and years, my mind can step aside for a moment and I can just be.

The morning cup helps me be myself more and less, if that makes any sense. By redirecting my attention from the endless stream of thoughts I can settle more deeply into just being in the moment.

At times – not always – it feels like finding the spark – the flickering flame of life – that is me.

If you are struggling with life’s limitations, finding that core of light within will help. Find some daily or regular routine that sustains you, helps you feel more like you.  Make it more intentional.

Take time to do it just right, pay attention to what you are doing, be present to the moment.  And at the same time don’t try too hard, this isn’t about concentration but being.

This shutdown offers a gift of being – of connecting to the spark of light within. It’s a worthy gift.

We are also being offered a gift of perspective. A reminder of how inextricably our lives are woven together. That we are a small part of a global collective.

May we live into this time of fresh perspectives, intimately bound in each other’s lives, and deeply connected to our own being.

So Say We All.

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