We have been chosen... to participate in the larger divine/cosmic drama now and forever.
Dear Friends and Parishioners:
I know that all of us are trying to cope with the unprecedented threat and consequent restrictions of the COVID-19 virus. Unlike other disasters and threats, we have no idea how long we will be called upon to socially distance ourselves from each other. We are social creatures and this isolation can play havoc with our mental health.
Frequently it seems like people have a “take it or leave it” indifference to religion and church. Many reason that much of life goes on the same whether or not I go to church or say my prayers. But there are times when the underpinnings of our security are so shaken, that we begin asking again, “Where is my health? Where is my strength? Where is my hope?” Could it be that something from those ancient pages of scriptures might in fact offer me perspective?
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” I have read these lines a thousand times, frequently at funerals. It always sounds pretty, but in this context it stands out like a flashing beacon of hope as it calls forth a common human experience, i.e. “How do we handle our mortality?”
There is a sense in this 23rd Psalm that this life is not an isolated event. Despite the limits of our normal consciousness, we participate in the eternal and the infinite. We access this realm through our imagination, which is a necessary aspect of faith. St. Paul came to this consciousness and speaks from it, when he writes, “Therefore, whether we live or die we are the Lord’s.” The Psalmist tells us we have been chosen (anointed) to enter the eternal and we will somehow participate in the larger divine/cosmic drama now and forever.
Again, Paul writes in Corinthians, “To the world this is foolishness.” It doesn’t seem logical or philosophically sophisticated. But with an awakened organ of imagination, we penetrate the myth of the rugged individual and enter the realm of God’s Kingdom. We become motivated and fed by the creative love of the cosmos, the eternal fire of creation, that sees this life as but another opportunity to live and love in what the New Testament calls the resurrected life.
These are not easy days. In that sense they share the uncertainty of our ancestors who blindly fell victim to all sorts of dread diseases and political catastrophes. They too struggled with the invisible unknown as well as real hostile forces aimed at destroying their personal and collective existence. They found strength and faith and wrote down their experience in the imaginative poetry of scripture. In our reading and recollection of these stories, may we find the same calm and sustaining center that calmed and sustained them through difficult days.