Jim Roberts is an old friend of mine who has married his calling as a Lutheran minister in Rockford, Il. (now refired) and a shaman artfully for decades. He identifies himself this way: Jim Roberts: recycled pastor, co-founder of “Manitoumie” (ceremonial center in Wisconsin), author, musician, poet, unlicensed activist/ troublemaker.
He shares this essay with me and you about the coronavirus moment we are living through.
“I have a tendency to get off the rails. I got lost before I became a pastor, a full-blown atheist, and then I got lost after I became a pastor. I had to go on a big journey.
Then I tried to lead a church where it was OK to be lost and go on a big journey: to discover who you are… why you are here.
35 years ago after I almost died, I needed a yearly pilgrimage to discover what the Divine wanted me to do that year, if it was the last year of my life…and I believed it was!
It was just too much work to pretend I knew who I was and what I was about.
Often I would encourage everyone to drop ALL THAT and go after it, confront the chaos and the beauty in our life… dance on the edge of the roof, and cry out for connection, community, clarity, and calling.
Now there is a new being, COVID 19 coronavirus, who is challenging us as a species… who is dividing– driving us into Sabbatical!
As a species we also have a tendency to go off the rails. We forget how we got here: our elements were from the stars, our ancestors
were single-celled beings a billion years ago, and all earth beings are kin.
We are inter-connected with every being on earth and the Mystery
holds it all together, even a virus.
But we have had a way of “othering” everything, everyone, even ourselves.
We have divided ourselves far
beyond what any virus could do!
We are being grimly forced now into separation, 6 feet please, if you must be here at all.
OR, we could embrace this as the greatest opportunity we’ve had as humans….
To CHOOSE to enter Sabbatical, discover the depths of our own presence,
the heart within, the spiritual longing hidden, the place
and the grace of our calling and ALL the “others”…
Are you up for a Sabbatical?
What if we let our GRIEF open us to a new pathway as a species, a new calling as humans?
Listen deeply to the soul… and begin, even at a distance outside,
to greet those “others”, make a friend at 10 feet, feel the common
drama of the unknown ahead,
and let the FEAR become compassion and longing for belonging.
And don’t forget to thank the birds for coming home,
the Earth and the Sun that hold us, the trees that stand beautifully by us,
and the new buds everywhere.
How about some new buds on our humanity!
I may have had to give up the church for Lent, but I won’t give up a soaring prayer that through this virus all the “others” can
finally see, accept, respect, even learn to love each other.
If we need a virus to enter the “Great Turning”, the “Beloved Community”,
then let it be. We will find our way together.”
Queries for Contemplation
Be with a specific section of this meditation, a phrase or a sentence. Let it speak deeply to you, wash over you.
Do you too offer a “soaring prayer” at this time? What does that look like for you?
Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet
Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow. Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Living in Sin