Answered prayers

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For the past few weeks I kept thinking that a blog written at this time in human history should be especially profound. But as I was getting ready to write it, I couldn’t bring my thoughts into focus. So I asked for guidance, and sure enough, it was provided. On the day that I planned to write the blog, I fell ill with a stomach virus, and for the next few days I was turned inside out, letting go of whatever needed to be cleared. As I slept for hours in the aftermath, a persistent thought came to me in my dreams – what you are going through is a metaphor for the larger picture. And that’s when my thoughts began to come into focus.

Sometimes things that happen to us appear to be violent and vile on the surface, but they are merely the necessary agents of clearing and renewal. By surface I don’t mean that they are only painful superficially in an insignificant kind of way. No, the pain is definitely real, but there is no malevolent intent behind it. One of my favorite phrases is that things are not always as they seem. What it means is that things often have layers of meaning, layers of significance, and if we are willing to look beyond the surface, we can find those additional layers. I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is such a multi-layered event.

There are many conspiracy theories floating around right now about the origin of the virus, about who is behind it, and what they intended to accomplish by spreading it. I personally don’t subscribe to these conspiracies mostly because I find them short-sighted. In the end, whether it was an accident or a plan, what really matters is the opportunities it provided – opportunities to reassess our priorities, opportunities to care for those around us, opportunities to see what is outdated and what needs to be rebuilt.

In fact, whether you believe this virus is a true disaster or a hoax created by the media, it has most definitely become a life-disruptor for most of us. And in the face of such an unavoidable life disruption, we begin to see many things in a new light. The first things that the virus is helping us reflect on are our individual, national, and global attitudes and values. For example, at the time when the planet is witnessing a wave of nationalism and separation, the virus is giving us an opportunity to realize that we are all in this together because there simply is no place on the planet for people to hide from it. So the question we can ask ourselves is should we continue to fight our battles separately or should we fight them together? Some people want to separate from the rest of the world and take care only of their own little corner; others see themselves as part of a much greater system and see the need to unite. Some feel that sacrifices made by the most vulnerable for the well-being of others are an acceptable outcome; others feel that protection of the most vulnerable should be our goal.

On a grander scale we are witnessing the emergence of two worldviews – one that sees everyone and everything as disconnected and separate, and another that sees everyone and everything as connected within one body or one system. People that hold the first worldview look for localized solutions, working on problems in a way that primarily focuses on the interests of their immediate communities. People that hold the second worldview develop solutions with the awareness of the entire system. They believe that what happens in one part of the system affects the rest of the system, and so they engage in collaboration, mutual support, and integration as they break down barriers and knock down artificial walls.

But the virus doesn’t just bring our values to the forefront. It also reveals outdated paradigms and structural inefficiencies on all levels from personal to global. For example, just in America, we are watching our educational system grapple with the fact that its approach to teaching has not changed significantly in the past 100 years and that it has not made advances in educational delivery commensurate with the progress in technology. We are watching our medical system run out of human and medical resources as it continues to function through disconnected, independent units. We are facing the reality that people without health insurance may not get tested or treated for the virus and realize that an increasing number of untreated individuals will negatively affect all of us. And the list of revealed structural concerns goes on and on.

These may be important things to ponder, but we might also wonder why all of this is happening now? In recent years, there has been a slow but growing awakening of people around the globe. Many are feeling dissatisfied with their political leadership, the direction of their countries, or the economic and social disparity between the people in their communities. Astrologers talk about the current moment as a revolutionary (or perhaps, evolutionary) period in human history. And while the “stars” were aligning, millions of people were pleading for change – this cannot go on; it has to change; it has to get better.

So as I lay in bed recovering from the stomach virus (that befell me when I asked for help with this blog), it occurred to me that when we genuinely ask for help, it is always given to us, but it may not come in the shape that we want. In fact, we may initially interpret it as negative. However, if we look beneath the surface, we will find deeper levels of meaning. When we become really ill, everything superficial gets stripped away. We no longer care about how we look or what type of car we drive. What becomes important is that we have enough resources to get better and that we are surrounded by the people who care about us.

So as we go through this painful time when everything superficial gets stripped away, we have the opportunity to focus on what really matters. What is our view of the world? What are our values? What value – truly – do we put on human life? How do we adjust our paradigms and rebuild our social, political, and financial structures to fit our evolving worldview? Let’s decide what’s important to us. Let’s assess what works and what needs to be rebuilt. Let’s decide where we go from here. Let’s dare to feel excitement and hope about tomorrow, for tomorrow we get a fresh start, tomorrow we get to feel better as humanity, as one planet.

But today – we love and take care of each other as best we can, and we find the strength to feel gratitude for our answered prayers.

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