Suffering and Need – the Mothers of Spiritual Evolution

Irma has reached South Carolina and we lost power an hour ago. (I’m composing on my cell phone…by candle light.)  My first thought when the power went out was that it would be back on soon because we live so close to the source… the dam. But then I remembered the prediction of wide-spread power outages.  Such a prediction is a good one because, electrical grid-wise, we are all connected.  That’s how and why brown-outs and black-outs occur…one city knocking down another.

Some people feel that images of disasters and heart-breaking stories from around the globe are too much to handle (“I can’t do anything about it.”)  However, in reaction to the news reports concerning the people in Texas and Florida, and even in Bangladesh, some internet friends and I have been writing about how we feel compelled to expand our compassion and concern out beyond our usual circle of friends and family.   One dear friend in Ireland said that it has changed the way she prays for people.  I’m inclined to agree with her because I believe in prayer.  I also believe that this is a new era…a time for increased global awareness, accompanied by an increased capacity for global compassion.

In the same way that technology has enabled power companies to interconnect and support and back up each other, we are getting better at doing the same spiritually. On a very small scale, when I struggle emotionally, my close friends step up and fill in with comfort and encouragement until my ‘transformers’ are running again. Healthy extended families and support groups like AA have been working like this for generations but now our awareness of suffering and need is global. How can our compassion cover it all?

Inventors of technology will attest to the truth that necessity is the mother of invention. Our increased awareness of the needs and struggles of others has necessitated a greater need for deeper and larger compassion and, spiritually, I believe we are being granted that greater capacity… almost as if we are able now to turn the light switch on in a previously secret room. Whether mankind has always had the capacity to hold the whole world in its heart…but just didn’t use it much…or whether we have evolved to be able to hold the globe in compassion, I believe we are discovering that it can be done.

Writers like Krista Tippett, Jim Marion, and Cynthia Bourgeault address how we as a civilization are evolving in consciousness.  Capabilities like nondual thinking, holding opposing views in a safe mediative space, and praying for the awakened consciousness of others are taking ‘helping others’ to a new level.

One of my friends cautioned me not long ago that I cannot heal the whole world…and she is correct… but I think we are getting closer to loving the whole world in compassion, all the time.

Patience and Thinking in Deep Geologic Time

This morning, Mark Nepo reminds me of Lao-Tzu’s wisdom:

I have just three things to teach
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These are your greatest treasures. 

Patience with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.

Nepo elaborates:

Fear wants us to act too soon.  But patience, hard as it is, helps us to outlast our preconceptions.  This is how tired soldiers, all out of ammo, can discover through their inescapable waiting that they have no reason to hurt each other.”  

Given enough time, most of our enemies cease to be enemies, because waiting allows us to see ourselves in them.

Richard Rohr, in this morning’s meditation, puts today’s political tensions in similar perspective:

I know the situation in the world can seem dark today. We are seeing theological regression into fundamentalist religions which believe all issues can be resolved by an appeal to authority (hierarchy or Scripture) and so there is no need for an inner life of prayer. In the United States we have seen the rolling back of a compassionate economic system and the abandonment of our biblical responsibility for the poor, the sick, and refugees. Fear and anger seem to rule our politics and our churches. We see these same things in many parts of the world.

The negative forces are very strong, and the development of consciousness and love sometimes feels very weak. But a “Great Turning” is also happening, as believed and described in many ways by such people as Teilhard de Chardin. There is a deep relationship between the inner revolution of prayer and the transformation of social structures and social consciousness.

The Apostle Paul has a marvelous line: “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). In so many places, there are signs of the Holy Spirit working at all levels of society. The church might well have done its work as leaven because much of this reform, enlightenment, compassion, and healing is now happening outside the bounds of organized religion. Only God gets the credit.

The toothpaste is out of the tube. There are enough people who know the big picture of Jesus’ thrilling and alluring vision of the reign of God that this Great Turning cannot be stopped. There are enough people going on solid inner journeys that it is not merely ideological or theoretical anymore. This is a positive, nonviolent reformation from the inside, from the bottom up. The big questions are being answered at a peaceful and foundational level, with no need to oppose, deny, or reject. I sense the urgency of the Holy Spirit, with over seven billion humans on the planet. There is so much to love and so much suffering to share in and heal.

So how are we to be patient if so much is wrong?  By keeping today in perspective of a long view of mankind and by tending to our own “solid inner journeys.”  Krista Tippett, also guided by Teilhard, shares in Becoming Wise:  An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living, that he foresaw that the “realm of human intelligence, information, and action…like the Internet…would drive the next stage of evolution–an evolution of spirit and consciousness.”

Tippett makes clear, however, that “Teilhard thought in slow, deep, geologic time, and so must we.  A long view of time can replenish our sense of ourselves and the world.  We are in the adolescence of our species, not by any measure in full possession of our powers.  The twenty-first-century globe resembles the understanding we now have of the teenage brain:  dramatically uneven; immensely powerful and creative at times and in places, reckless and destructive in others.”

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Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening is an excellent guide book for one’s “solid inner journey.”

Richard Rohr’s daily meditations are solid gold wisdom found at Meditations@cac.org .

I’ve just started Krista Tippett’s book, Becoming Wise, but it looks to be the exact book I need to be reading right now.

My thanks to Ansel Adams for beautifully depicting visually, the massive stable strength that stands behind all of what we know as life.  Also, my eternal thanks to Lao-Tsu.

Creation is Evidence of God’s Brilliance (Reprise)

A fellow blogger is concerned about evolution; he believes the concept that life evolved from a single-celled organism dismisses belief in God and devalues human life.  This is how I respond:

I disagree that what we are learning, and continue to learn, dismisses belief in God or devalues human life. God, even as documented in the Bible, has revealed Himself to man in ways that man can understand Him…in ways that man can handle…emotionally, conceptually, and intellectually. When He appeared to Abraham and to Moses, it was in glimpses and even then the men were dramatically affected by the experience. God, the Father, sent Jesus in human form so we would be able to receive Him and accept Him and listen to Him without the shock of His divinity; when he presented simple displays of His power in healing and changing water to wine or feeding the thousands, these simple examples were difficult for people to understand and accept.

The writers of the Bible wrote about God in ways that made sense to them…in ways they and others could handle and understand; they wrote in terms of what they knew…and even then it was mysterious and marvelous. The more we learn about our world, our universe, and ourselves, the more we learn about how amazing God is. God is so much more than what we know and are aware of. If God created us by a method starting with single-celled organisms, the whole concept is mind-blowingly creative and brilliant. The elegance of the processes involved are evidence of the masterfully-artistic mind of God.

Evolution, in no way, devalues human life. Man is special and unique among all of the creatures God planned: Man writes poetry, for example. All other creatures do what they do to survive. Poetry is not necessary for survival. Man seeks communion with the Creator. Do other creatures do that?

God is in no way threatened by science or technology. Quite the contrary, God is giving us the guidance to learn more about our universe…and more. God reveals Himself and creation as we are capable and prepared to know. And, the Holy Spirit is not computer illiterate; God nudges man to develop technology and inspires people, like you and me, to use it to distribute knowledge, wisdom, and guidance and to heal people all over the world.

God created this world and it is still a good creation. There is much wrong going on and God is aware. God loves.  God wants reconciliation and gives us ample opportunities to do that..and to help others see that.  God is excited…just as we are…as we continue to learn how magnificently and beautifully executed His creation has been…and continues to be.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.