Fear has taken over and it seems to have control—of our minds and our hearts.
Who do we believe? What do we do? Where will we go from here? I know I am not the only one sitting in silence and isolation considering these very things. Social media has gifted all of us the possibility to really read the fears of others. Not only are the fears of others revealed, but with that, the triggers, the trauma, and the deep-seated anxiety that lives within those who are filled with uncertainty.
It feels as if the whole world is on fire and at the same time, the world is being drowned out by tsunami waves. Flooding and burning— that’s what I see taking place. And without a fire extinguisher or a lifeboat, I am not sure what will happen next.
The reality is, that even without a global pandemic, we live in uncertainty all the time. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, nor the next 5 minutes. At any given time, death can knock and strike down our tower of confidence. So, why is this uncertain time impacting us to deeply and personally? Why is this event smothering us and killing our spirit and hope?
The Crown and Storm
Did you know the term “corona” is Latin for crown? Some sources define corona as “the tenuous outermost part of the atmosphere of a star, such as the sun.” Another defines corona as “a garland worn on the head as a mark of honor or emblem of majesty, halo around a celestial body.”
Another name for corona is halo, and another name for that is nimbus. And nimbus is defined similarly: “a luminous vapor, cloud, or atmosphere about a god or goddess when on earth. an indication (such as a circle) of radiant light or glory about the head of a drawn or sculptured divinity, saint, or sovereign.”
Nimbus, however, also means “rain cloud” or “thunderhead.” A storm.
Corona is a storm in some sense, isn’t it? A thunderous, tumultuous, unrelenting cloud of chaos and confusion.
When we are panicked during any storm, we allow the fear to take hold of us and tell us nasty little lies in our thoughts. Things that tell us we are not prepared enough for this. A voice that whispers, “You are not enough for this moment.” Or, that we don’t actually have what we thought we needed.
Lies of lack fill our head even though the truth of love has always been full in our hearts.
The truth is we do have what we need for the storm we are embarking on. We have our lives. And if we have love in our hearts, our faith can move mountains. Even if we feel isolated, sheltered, and alone.
The disciples were victim to fear along with lies of lack —lies and panic crept in all the while, Jesus slept in the stern of the boat. They had the Messiah right there with them and still they were afraid. Jesus rebuked the winds and the waves, “Silence! Be Still!” And the storm ceased. “He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” Is that what we need to calm the storm—silence? Maybe Jesus and silence and a reminder to have faith?
Our faith is wavering, isn’t it? What’s so different about this crisis that we refuse to receive this openly and wait to see what is revealed? Can we be willing to let go of the need for certainty? Can we listen to that still voice within that guides us to truth and love?
Bleak conditions make us realize what is most important. Unfortunately, that feeling lingers only temporarily. Interestingly, Crossing Mark’s Stormy Sea, or the second path of a Radical Transformation of Heart and Mind, as detailed by Alexander John Shaia, reveals just that phenomenon.
“In the first path, we had to learn and live with our greatest fears and insecurities. Now, in the second path, they fight back. The profound question of the second path is, how do we move through suffering? We feel as though we are in a small boat on a stormy sea—terrifies, exhausted, fragile. The winds and water lash us as we are tossed about in a gray, horizon less, directionless world. Is help coming? There is no way to tell, and in any case, we are not sure how to discern what would help and what would harm us any further. We are thirsty, but only saltwater surrounds us. We are filled with doubt that drains our strength like the deepest failure. We feel pretty certain we will die.” (Heart and Mind, 128)
From my own experience, there is a constant oscillation between Climbing the Mountain and Crossing the Stormy Sea. There are seasons of all the paths, from what I can tell. I seem to always be moving from mountains to storms. I wonder how many others experience that? I face the fears but then the fears creep back in. As soon as I think I am “healed,” another activation sets off the winds within, and another storm brews. At times, it is insufferable. I wonder if we ever become truly healed people.
Mark’s gospel calls attention to the Suffering Servant. Suffering, as I have come to understand, is a necessary attribute of our spiritual journey. In fact, there will be a point following the suffering, that we view it as a blessing and a gift. To get to that point, crossing the storm requires that we peel back layers, “this shedding of old beliefs, habits, and assumptions is necessary. Patience must become our core practice, and we need to recognize the ‘mindless’ strength is its underpinning.” (Heart and Mind, 139)
What does patience look like for you during this time? Do you have more of it or less of it?
“Uncertainty, depression, and anxiety run rampant along this second path. We teeter on the cliffside of chaos. But we must jump off that cliff. Like Jesus’ followers, we are called to step out in faith and make a fearful journey through the conflict of opposites for the sake of our souls.” (145)
Now, more than ever, there seems to be a hefty buffet of conflicting opposites to choose from.
Stay in, go out.
Be scared, be strong.
Worry, don’t worry.
It’s not that bad. It’s so fucking bad!
It’ll pass. When will it pass?
The numbers are high. The numbers are relatively low.
As I said, we don’t know who or what to believe anymore. So, at this juncture, I think it’s best to listen to the voice within. You know, that voice that says “Do not be afraid, I am with you.” Are you listening?
What is that voice saying to you?