Becoming the Least of These. #CopingWithCOVID19
It was a few months ago…or maybe a few years ago…when the dismantling of life as I knew it seemed to accelerate.
Now, every day, almost every moment, the security of living in a world that, however slowly, bends toward justice, erodes away.
The number of actions and words which I once could not imagine happening, accelerates at a rate similar to the numbers of diagnosed virus cases, and deaths.
Many of us fear losing the things we have attached to our life. There is a terror of losing normalcy. Some are so desperate to return to their past life, they are willing to risk the safety of their loved ones, and themselves, as they dress in combat costumes and wave their guns to demand that the world realign with their paradigm of security and privilege.
Death seems, to some, less threatening than change.
For me, all change involves a type of death. All transformation, shifting, awareness, inspiration, epiphany – it all involves an end, a letting go of a past life, a past way of thinking or believing.
I have been thinking of Garden stories.
I often speak of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and how it is the story of each of us. We are each Adam and Eve. We are each constantly confronted with the choice to either cling to what we already know, to what is predictable, to what we are told – or to step into wisdom, complexity, the place of choosing to be and creating our own path.
Now I think more often of another Garden story.
It is also about each of us.
Did Christ know the Garden is where his words and actions would lead?
In asking people he loved to follow him, did he, did they see it would lead to death?
He had spoken of bringing a new way, of completing and doing away with the old.
His actions were radical in showing how completely the law of love could transform us.
His last parable spoke of there being no divisions, no “other”. God is the least of these. The least of these is God.
Was he already becoming that, even before the pleading, the sweating great drops like blood?
Is the Garden where he descended below all? Is that where he experienced the death of deep self, letting go of any barrier? Is it there where he was most vulnerable, where he would not resist any part of us?
How could he feel what we feel, be one with us?
God, how is it done?
In my moments of deepest despair, fear, loss, grief, confusion – I hear them… “I am here. I am with you. I am sorry for the pain. No matter where you are, I am with you. I am you.”
There is no barrier. No condition to this most vulnerable act of love.
And I am in the garden, where God removes all barriers. There is no resistance to being one.
Was this death of self the bitter cup? More bitter than the physical death on the cross?
I don’t know how it is done.
And somehow, death brought us a new God.
A God who connects us, and brings us into new life. Not through force, or fear, or guilt, but through the complete one-ness of unconditional love.
I consider those moments after the tomb had been closed, and there was loss beyond description. How did Christ rebuild himself? Did he learn how to breathe deeper, and step into a new life in the same way we did from our Heavenly Parents? We became new beings when they inspired us to live more completely, and to create new worlds, and ourselves in new ways. Once again, was he showing us what was possible, because he loves us so?
I do not sense there was any desire or need to return to his past, to what he had been. He created himself again, appeared because he loved us, and showed us what that love made possible.
Over and over again.
How many times have I faced the end of all things?
I am navigating this time of isolation from a place of privilege.
I am in my comfortable home, with my profoundly good and kind husband. We can, for now, find ways to provide for our needs and help our adult children endure loss of employment and income. We have access to reliable information and education, as well as resources for safety and healthcare.
Our age and health history put us at risk. Every exposure to anyone is a concern. My work in suicide prevention has been interrupted at a time when the need is greater than ever. New training and creative use of technology make it possible to continue. Since I volunteer my time and resources for this, I have no loss of income. It is my concern for those who are in despair that weighs on me. My helplessness to make a difference while confined consumes me. My worry for loved ones is constant.
And I am mourning. I mourn the loss of physical connection. I want to sit next to my mom, and visit, and help her make art, and talk with her without a mask muffling our voices.
I want to meet with friends, celebrate good days, or weep together through heartache. I want to visit those who are sick, hold their hands, and feed them homemade soup.
I want to hug my kids.
I want to take off the masks, and the gloves, and feel the wetness of tears when someone is crying on my shoulder, or the gentle touch when someone wipes away mine.
During this time when we need to have more physical distance and barriers between us, I think of my God who has none. No distance, no barriers, no resistance.
As I create a new life, what will I learn from the vulnerable, unconditional love that Christ revealed in the Garden, and every moment since then?
Even with masks, and isolation, and different views…
Love is only love when it is unconditional.
Remove the barriers.
There is no “other”.
We are all the least of these.
We are one.
Now is the time to create a world where I live this.