We are discussing what we can do to resist despair and depression while staying indoors during the pandemic.  Yesterday we discussed the importance of expanding our consciousness to include others including the Earth and the Cosmos in order to gain a more expanded consciousness about our own fears and insecurities. 

What else can we do?

“The kind neighbour. This illustration depicts how kindness between neighbours has gotten stronger now we’re facing the Covid-19 confinement. Image created by Fernando Cobelo. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives – help stop the spread of COVID-19.” From Unsplash.
  • Practice humility.  By remaining rooted to the earth and her long history we see things in perspective and resist messianic complexes and ego inflation.  We are not here to save the world as lone-wolf heroes, but to try and to do so in community with others.  We can also garden such as Julian calls for! (see DM, May 6)
  • Resist excessive dwelling on the suffering and evil.  Both Julian and Eckhart before her stress how suffering often comes to an end whereas goodness has a longer life.  This is what Julian means by “all will be well again.”  She is recognizing hardness and evil, but she is trusting that goodness and beauty trump evil.  As Rabbi Zalman Schactner used to say, “there is more good than evil in the world–but not by much.”
Medieval prayer to the Black Madonna and healing trance dance ritual against the Plague. Conceived by and featuring Alessandra Belloni, with a worldwide virtual gathering of artists and sacred sites.
  • Remember the Via Positiva—“original goodness” (Aquinas); “goodness is God” (Julian); “original wisdom” (Hildegard); “original blessing” (Fox).  Let joy into your life.  Be a hunter/gatherer after joy.  Practice gratitude.
  • Practice letting go (Via Negativa).
  • Be free enough so you can create (Via Creativa); and bring moral imagination and alternatives to the table.
“Tai Chi Master.” Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay
  • Develop a thick skin—prophets need warrior energy. 
  • Meditate on good news such as this from Jesus: “‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’”  (Jn 14)  Clearly this kind of teaching—and every tradition has similar teachings—is important at a time like ours when many people are feeling troubled and afraid. 
From violent resource extraction to toxic runoff from disposal, unfettered consumerism devastates the planet. From PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.
  • Evil exists.  Study up on Evil.  Americans and Westerners are often undeveloped in our understanding of evil.  Religion has so oversold “sin” that evil gets avoided or put on a back shelf until it leaps into history and surprises us. 

    This is why in my major study on evil, I develop a new language that brings Eastern and Western insights about evil together and contextualizes evil within the wonders of the Universe, Earth and our own bodiesIn his recent Forward to that book Deepak Chapra predicted that evil would be the number one spiritual issue in the 21st century.
  • Work with those whom you can help.  Support and encourage others who are doing the same.
“Togetherness” Photo by Bernd Muller on Pixy.com
  • Do what you can do and what you feel called to contribute and try to do it with allies wherever possible.  Be there for the long haul.  Take care of yourself!  Eckhart: “Compassion begins at home with one’s own body and one’s own soul.”
  • Breathe deep.  Laugh a lot.  Mix wisdom and action.

See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 21-130, xiii.

Banner Image: “Gardeners taking good care of the parks.” Photo by larique on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Which of these suggested practices are you strongest at currently?  Which challenge you the most and call for development? 

Recommended Reading

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3 thoughts on “More Practices for a Pandemic Time”

  1. Avatar

    I am so enjoying the beautiful music from the videos you share with us, Matthew! I had a little difficulty seeing the beauty in the Maori video, but after reading the comment by Joan Macy about the need to express our deep emotions of anger, sadness, and sorrow by song and dance and sound, I realized how very important it is and so easy to do, in times of stress. I’ve done it, not to the extent of the Maori, but enough to release whatever was going on.
    I live alone, and the thing I miss the most is hugging people. I have friends who miss it too. So, I use the palms together, the bow, and the word” namaste” with all who come within walking distance of six feet and talk a little. Many have never used the term, and seem pleased when I tell them what it means, and explain that for now, “This is how I hug you!” And it helps.

    I am now on the chapter of the “I Am” in your book Cosmic Christ. It has been such a help in using the Via Positiva and the Via Negativa to help me come back to “delighting in God completely steeped in wonder!” I have a tendency to pay too much attention to negative thoughts because I was taught to be afraid of “bad thoughts” as a little girl, and that still comes up for me to work on, but much less often now.
    I am doing some art work, learned to sprout seeds, (so amazing to see the process!) do more cooking and cleaning, work in my garden, continue on my long uphill walks and talk to my cat, Elmer, to my indoor plants, and do so appreciate the awesome birds in my backyard, some that I’ve never seen before.

    I lost a very good friend a couple of weeks ago, who died very suddenly, and so I grieved like I hadn’t grieved for a long time. She came to me before I went to sleep, and she shone brightly in an amazing white dress surrounded by gold. (She who was a farmer and always dressed as one!) I knew we were connected through the Cosmic Christ and her name and Jesus’ name came simultaneously to my lips, and I went to sleep peacefully.

    I thank you again, Matthew. Your meditations and your book have been and are, a great learning experience for me. Love and blessings!

    1. Matthew Fox

      Dear Vivian: What a beautiful visitation you share with us about your friend who died suddenly but came to you in a white dress surrounded by gold! The Cosmic Christ often unites the living and the dead, it operates obviously among worlds. No wonder that you slept peacefully. It sounds very much like a Resurrection encounter and lesson. Thank you for sharing and I am glad that you are finding peace in your deep loss.


  2. Avatar

    Its such a delight reading your thoughts & words everything you have said
    “ I get it “
    If I lived near you I would hug you & talk to you & listen to your experiences
    & wisdom
    Unfortunately I live in Bonnie Scotland
    So the best way is to communicate is through Social media
    Stay safe

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