Sunday 26 April 2020

The time of discernment and choice

We have had (it continues, but may end at any moment) a time of choice - a time in which some hundreds of millions of Western people have been withdrawn from their usual life of doing, and compelled into a life where the opportunities for contemplation are unprecedented.

Some (and this was substantially self-chosen) have had a situation in which marriage and/or family was reasserted.

Here, we have been helped by unremitting dry and sunny weather in the spring (when the usual is plenty of rain).  A glorious spring.

But this is an hiatus (whether planned, accidental or of divine contriving). We have been given a chance, of several weeks, such as has never been given before - and which (in the nature of mortal life) cannot be sustained.

Did we make the best of the chance to appreciate beauty, quietness, a broad margin to life? Time to read good books, listen to good music, do arts and crafts, pray and meditate (whatever we think highest, whatever we personally most need - spiritually)...

Vitally: time really to examine and think-through our lives, experiences, motivations; at the deepest level possible.

Or did we redouble our immersion in the mind-absenting distractions of the mass and social media; did we allow fear to spiral: focus more-and-more exclusively on health-and-safety, risk reduction, skin-saving? 

Did we realise that this mortal life is our own responsibility? Or did we clamour for our life (our thinking!) to be even-more controlled-for-us? 

This has been a challenge for discernment - can we discern what is the result of evil, and what is the product of good? (Do we even acknowledge the reality of good and evil powers contending in this world?)

Having discerned; can we then embrace that which is good; recognising, repenting and rejecting that which is of evil motivation?

The crux of these times has been (could still be) what each person makes of the gifted chance; before this phase ends, the next stage emerges, and other events supervene.


Francis Berger said...

You've touched on a vital point here. Taking all obvious negative considerations concerning the lockdown into account, I would classify myself as being among those who have benefited immensely from these forced stay-at-home measures, mostly through the factors you mention in the post. Though I continue to work from home, I find myself in circumstances where the world is not "too much with me." That is, I have had extra time and space to really concentrate on essential truths and falsehoods and objectively dissect some of my own flaws and shortcomings (as well as immerse myself in great books, etc). The lockdown has also strengthened my family relationships - which is invaluable.

I've heard a lot of people say the world will be considerably changed by all of this. They say this mostly from a negative perspective (and perhaps rightly so). I have a feeling I will be considerably changed by all this as well - but I say this from a mostly positive perspective.

William Wildblood said...

This period is almost like a pregnancy, a quiet and growing time for each individual, and what we give to birth to, ie the sort of person we will have become, when it is reaches its conclusion will be determined by how we are responding to the situation now.

Jacob Gittes said...

I've been deemed an "essential employee," and thus have had to go into the office. But like Francis has experienced, it's been a time of relative isolation. No playing darts with my Buddhist friend (who I have talked about here before), or having the occasional drink with friends, etc.
And you know what? I don't miss it at all.
It's also been the exact time when I have been working on what I am experiencing as an amazing, wonderful relationship with a woman. A relationship that has required immense personal growth, difficult but needed change (away from fear and despair and towards openness and love), and a re-orientation towards spiritual life.

I have no idea what the "next stage" will bring. I'm no afraid. I am slowly but surely discovering internal resources I didn't know I had.
I read the Bible most evenings - just a passage from the Old Testament, and one from the New Testament. I don't turn it into a fetish, or read much more than that.
I've been re-reading Thomas Moore's Soul Mates - not a bad book, despite it's somewhat New Age leanings.
I plan to re-read Moby Dick soon. Why not?
Regardless, it's literally the strangest, most bizarre time in recent human history. We are learning, and will learn, a huge amount.
For example, is the economy literally controlled by some sort of satanic algorithm, and can thus be carried on forever with illusion and endless zeroes in computer memory banks, or will some kind of economic tsunami make life incredibly difficult for even the upper middle classes?
What will happen with all the churches that closed their doors, and showed their irrelevance?
What will people who may lose immense amounts of their wealth do?
What % of Christians are really independent of materialism for their source of meaning and joy?
This community here has been very valuable to me.