We spoke yesterday about birthing a New Normal this Christmas season. We do not have to settle the Old Normal but can take advantage of the coronavirus pause to move beyond the deficiencies of the past.
Surely one of the exciting lessons of Christmas is that Divinity comes as something new, young, fresh. The negative senex, the “old goat” complex–found both in individuals and in sclerotic social structures–is laid to rest. As Eckhart put it, “God is novissiumus” (the newest thing there is in the universe). We are called at Christmas time and all the time to shed the old and tired and put on the new.
There are customs and lessons and ancestors of the past who are still very new because we so often repress the past forgetting those who dared to bring something new to continue. Indeed, many of our mystics are of that ilk—they spoke to new and deep realities in their lifetimes but were often dismissed, avoided, denounced or forgotten. Julian of Norwich has such a story to tell.
That very forgetfulness makes them new to us living even hundreds of years after their time. Julian, for example, breaks through the patriarchal thinking and realities that have dominated for hundreds and even thousands of years—she was a feminist 700 years before feminism because she deconstructed dualism, the basis of patriarchy, and because she proposed a genuine balance between a healthy feminine and a healthy masculine consciousness. Her insistence that Divinity in all its dimensions—as Creator, as Liberator or Son, and as Holy Spirit—is God the Mother is part of that deep feminist awareness that is still new in our day to most of our institutions and projects and theologies.
We should make note of some of the “old normal” or “past normal” that we do want to keep alive even in a time of a “New Normal” and a new birth of humanity we are hoping this Christmas might generate. What from the “old normal” is worth our taking with us into the future? What are some treasures to save from the burning building?
Surely our being able to hug each other and be with one another in person for story-telling and sharing, for conversation and friendship, for meals together and holidays and holy days, for theater and sports and ritual gatherings. Surely the love of nature and of music, of hiking and of exercising, of intergenerational sharing, of respect of our ancestors living and dead, the elders, along with the new-borns and those facing life changes and rites of passage. To learn together and to grieve together and to dance and laugh together—these are old normal values worth keeping very much alive. And surely good work, work that serves this and future generations.
Not everything from the past is to be tossed out as we work to birth together a New Normal. Discernment is important to decide what to toss and what to develop more fully.
See Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart, pp. 110-113.
What are some examples of the Old Normal that you want to include alongside a New Normal?