When is it time to engage with the world, and when to transcend our immediate surroundings?
I am seeking to have a balance in my life these days between these two opposite impulses. On one hand, I want to be engaged in the struggles of the world: racial injustice, the pandemic, the frightening and divisive presidential election. I am called to be engaged. I owe it to myself and to my children and to the world.
And there are times when it is too much.
The presidential debate last night was hard to engage with. Confronting the things at stake here, especially the prospect of unrest and violence on and after election day, is upsetting. There is wisdom in taking a huge step back from this moment, transcending the us/them mood of the election, the fear and uncertainty of the virus, the anger and weariness of racism. Taking a large enough step back, or viewing from a high enough perspective above, these things are a moment in time. This is a particular era of human history with a unique set of struggles and dangers. Life for the trees, the rivers, and the ocean, has a different scale and a different reality. What is divine in us is present in all human beings, regardless of politics or race, regardless of health or sickness.
When I am too much engaged in the troubles of the world and need help transcending them, often I turn to the Tao Te Ching, my favorite sacred text. Today I found there these words:
When a country is in harmony with the Tao,
the factories make trucks and tractors.
When a country goes counter to the Tao,
warheads are stockpiled outside the cities.
There is no greater illusion than fear
no greater wrong than preparing to defend yourself,
no greater misfortune than having an enemy.
Whoever can see through all fear
will always be safe.
(Tao Te Ching, verse 46, translated by Stephen Mitchell)
I am going to stay engaged: keep reaching out to voters, keep working for racial justice, stay vigilant about the pandemic. And, I will seek the transcendent wisdom in the verse above, that I can let go of the fear that does not serve me; that I can let go of enmity towards others which takes a toll on me. Embracing the divine, I can see beyond this moment in history and beyond my fear and stress.
Infinite Spirit of the Divine, be with me. Help me to know that I can be engaged in the present moment while also existing in the timeless plane beyond myself, beyond history, beyond worldly concerns.
May I have the wisdom and the perspective to let go.
May my tribe, my people, my nation, have the wisdom to see beyond the differences that divide us to the common humanity within.
In the great unfolding of the universe that is life, I am a small part. May I do what I can and recognize that I am just one part in the vast time and space of being.
May all beings exist in love; may we act in love; may we be blessed by love.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Drew's office hours are suspended until further notice. However, he is reachable at any time via email, phone, or text.
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