Possible Silver Linings in the Coronavirus Emergency

We are mediating on the Coronavirus emergency that is upending many lives, work and play habits, and even our economic foundations.  The great mystic Meister Eckhart instructs us that “the soul grows by subtraction, not by addition.”  Fasting, whether it be voluntary or involuntary, would seem to qualify as a subtraction for sure.

Placard declaring quarantine area. Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

Silver Linings and a growing of the soul in all this involuntary fastings (which can become voluntary fastings if we put them into the larger context) might include the following:

Moving from doing to being

Moving from vicarious acting by watching Television to actually acting.

What happens when the TV gets turned off?  What lies beneath our excitement for contests and winners and losers?

The building of community—a “common task” of group survival and caring and interdependence and compassion.

Gathering water to wash hands. Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash.

Once again, all facing our immortality or at least our vulnerability

Stretching of our collective minds to serve one another by doing the necessary “fasting” or letting go but also to stand up to the virus by doing the testing (and making it possible—something the government has proven unable to do).

Learning the primal lesson of not taking for granted—our health, our breath, our life, our community interdependence and mutual service.

Learning to SLOW DOWN.  And contribute less to global warming by slowing our economies down.

Learning anew the preciousness of health.  And a healthy planet.  And a healthy body.

Learning the important lessons of what the mystics call: Letting Go; Letting Be; Silence; Being.

Learning important lessons of what mystics call: Nothingness.  What Thomas Merton called the “Golden Zero.”

Hopefully, the important lesson from the mystics of: Gratitude.  Not taking for granted.  “If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘Thank You,” that would suffice.”  (Meister Eckhart)

Moving from Busyness and Making the Gross National Product to Being.

“While 60 million people in the country are stuck at home, some are making the most of it. In Siena, a city in Italy’s Tuscany region, people joined together in song, as darkness fell over the vacant streets.” Video by Coronavirus Compilation.

Remembering our radical interdependence–whether young or old, black or brown or white, male or female, rich or poor, of this country or that, of this religion or another or none at all, we are all living in tandem with one another. 

Re-learn some humility and ask how we can assist one another as well as ourselves to take steps to a healthy existence.  Maybe generosity, magnanimity and sacrifice might return and replace the reptilian brain energies of competition and one-up-man-ship.

Stretching our moral imaginations to assist those temporarily displaced from working their jobs.

Celebrate in spite of bad news, as they are doing in Siena and other Italian cities. 

Maybe this Involuntary Lenten Practice might ultimately shed new light on the primal question for ourselves as individuals, as communities and as a species: What does it mean (and not mean) to be a human being?

For lessons of Letting Go, Nothingness and more, see Meister Eckhart’s teachings on the Via Negativa in Matthew Fox, Passion For Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 180-265.

Banner Image: Building placard declaring “closed but still awesome”. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Which, among these “silver linings,” are important lessons for you to learn or relearn? 

Which among them are most important for our culture to learn or relearn?

Do you agree that the soul grows by subtraction more than by addition?

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7 thoughts on “Possible Silver Linings in the Coronavirus Emergency”

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Could Meister Eckhart have ever imagine a time like this? A worldwide subtraction of our lifestyles and a renunciation of so many pleasures. I have been heartened by the way people have responded to the corona crisis. We are remembering who we are.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  1. Avatar

    Yesterday, I found myself thinking about another silver lining, and it has to do with something else you have noted, Matthew, that there are more mystic astronauts than Christians mystics. And perhaps you didn’t mean actually more–but the point is, when one looks back at Earth from space, one must recognize how on this planet we truly are one. There are no borders. Those lines are imaginary. In so gazing (and in being a part of space because one is engulfed in it) one recognizes that God is a cosmic God and Christ is a cosmic Christ. (You could state and have stated this much better than me.) So, yes, as this coronavirus sweeps across the globe, it absolutely yells at us: “Those borders you think you’ve drawn. They are imaginary! Do you get it yet?”

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Michele,
      Thank you. I appreciate your observation that the virus has proved our political borders to be created out of our own imaginations. Except for certain political leaders, I observe that people around the world have opened their hearts to each other and cared as much for other’s progress as their own, imagining what life must be like in Italy, Chine, Germany, or Iran. Compassion, that powerful expression of divine love, is now circling the globe. May this bring healing beyond the virus of today, to the world community of tomorrow.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar
    Anne Marie Raftery

    Thank you, Matthew, for sharing the clip from the Singers at the “Siena Lockdown”. I’m reminded of the old saying:
    “adversity creates character, but to know the soul of a person, see how he/she uses personal power”. Let’s pick up the tempo of spreading HOPE!

  3. Avatar
    Gregory Chaney Ph.D.

    Thank You Matthew, for your world-wide observations from an aerial view. You’ve struck the Bullseye of Merton’s “Golden Zero”. Your perspective is the difference between our solitary confinement becoming a prison cell … or a monastic cell. From where I sit, this is what I see developing before our eyes: Mother Earth is exposing the follies, failures and far-reaching destructiveness of political, economic, social, educational & religious systems that have been commandeered by unhealthy, imbalanced, spirit-strangling Patriarchal power structures originating in and perpetuating the false self (Donald Trump a ‘perfect’ example).

    This global health-check will have the world washing its hands of Trump and mis-leaders of his ilk and clearing the way for what you discerned ages ago and wrote of in a 2006 essay … the return of the Black Madonna/Great Mother Archetype in global consciousness. We in Louisville are setting a Global Stage upon which you can proclaim this Good News to all … from the City the Black Madonna is building by way of her spiritual son, Thomas Merton. In order to manifest the Cosmic Christ, Louisville must first become The Madonna … as we are.

    Our Festival of Faiths is the perfect setting for this revelation. You are the ideal Messenger. The Festival has been put on hold until the Fall by the Coronavirus. We are hoping that this interlude will give us time to properly prepare a Program that proves your vision prophetic.

    Plotting A Way (In The City of Motherly Love)
    Gregory Chaney
    Louisville 40212

    PS: To sweeten the Plot we are creating a special Home for The Black Madonna … a massive ‘Mammoth Arts MotherHouse’ in which Visionary Artists will awaken the soul of humanity.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Gregory,
      Tank you for your wise and artful summation of Matthew’s prophetic vision and in light of the turnings of the Coronavirus. As with Mother Nature, not everything comes to fruit when expected, so your festival will have more time to gather its energy and more experience from which to speakits truth. I am sure t will be a more profound experience coming after the Coronavirus. I wish you well, you and the city of Merton and the Black Madonnaa.

      It was not clear to me if you were inviting Matthew to participate on site for your festival. If so, the person to contact is Dennis Edwards, Executive Director, Matthew Fox Legacy Project 33dennis@sbcglobal.net

      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

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