It’s The End Of The World As We Know It.
My dear neighbor is going through intensive treatment for cancer.
When she was diagnosed a couple of months ago, I would go and visit her regularly. I would take homemade food and gifts, sit next to her, listen to her share her experiences, share what I had learned from my treatment. Cancer warriors have a kinship.
Covid-19 virus has shifted the format of these visits.
Yesterday, I carried a loaf of homemade sourdough bread to her porch, knocked, and stepped back to the end of her walkway. She felt up to answering the door, and we were able to visit for a bit, talking with each other from about 15 yards apart.
I thought of a picture she had posted of greeting her son when he had just returned from college. They are each pressing their hands and foreheads together from opposite sides of a glass door. That is the only kind of contact they can have for now.
I really love this amazing neighbor of mine. She is deeply kind and good. She has a great wisdom about creating a habitat for plants and creatures so they can thrive in this area. She has been so generous and patient in helping me create a beautiful landscape around my home. And this wisdom carries over into her relationships with people. She seems to have a way of loving and appreciating people for whatever goodness they bring into the world. I especially love the way she lit up when I shared any of my mystical views about how we are all connected.
That is what we talked about yesterday. We felt the earth is telling us all to go sit in our own corner and think about what we are doing to each other. I said I felt that the Universe, as a whole, moves in a direction of love and connection. And when there is a pendulum swing toward division, separation, harsh discrimination because of where someone is born or how they look or who they love, violent hoarding of power and money and rights and space and mercy and justice, treating things that are abundant as if they were scarce – at some point, I think the molecules will demand that the pendulum swing back.
She said that trying to be emotionally connected while practicing physical distancing was something she had to learn months ago, and we talked about how this could be an important lesson for the world. We don’t need to be physically close, or physically similar, before we get that we are all a part of each other.
What happens to any of us, happens to all of us.
This reminded me of what I learned years ago when I was undergoing cancer treatment. During radiation, my oncologist explained how important it was to get the intensity level correct. The radiation attacks all the cells in the treatment site, and destroys them. The intent is to have it at a level where the healthy cells can recover, but the cancer cells can’t, so they die. Similar to chemotherapy infusions or medication, the hope is that there are enough healthy cells that can withstand the onslaught of the treatment, and recover life for the body as the cancerous cells are eliminated.
One of the things I found interesting is the explanation for one of the major side effects – severe exhaustion. My doctor explained that the healthy cells not only had to recover, but they also had to haul away the dead cancer cells. They had to remove and replace the dead cancer cells with healthy cells. And that required energy. The work of the healthy cells was not just to survive and rebuild themselves. They needed to overcome the destruction, the waste and the remains of the dead cancer cells, clean it up, and create space for new life.
I learned to focus my energy on that which creates healing, and new life.
Maybe this is how I can learn to live in the end times.
Maybe I can see that every day can be the end of the world as I know it. Because every day is a day to practice letting go of former life, and creating new life.
My body has already had to rebuild itself physically, one cell at a time, during the onslaught of cancer treatment. Since that time, I am constantly looking for a new way of living a created life, even though I have permanent side effects that have impacted skills and strength and brain function which I had worked my whole life to develop.
So I practice new ways of creating art with hands that have severe neuropathy. I allow myself more time to go on walks and hikes with feet and knees that have less balance and more pain. I use more online tools to try to gather information, and to formulate ideas with a brain that struggles to recall vocabulary and language. Each time someone expresses surprise that some things might be difficult for me, I am reminded that everyone around me is probably dealing with struggles and burdens that might not be obvious. What is happening to any of us is happening to all of us. When I am quick to attack someone, that attack impacts everyone.
When the scriptures refer to the end times, there is only one task outlined for us to actually do. Our job is to overcome evil. Christ taught us that we can’t overcome evil with evil, or force, or violence, or destruction.
The only way to overcome evil is with love. Love that is courageous, messy, ferocious, and willing to show up when it is difficult and inconvenient.
I thought of that when I was visiting with my friend yesterday. Right now, her very presence is an act of love in the world.
Every person who shows up to provide care at the hospital, or medical lab, or grocery store, or package delivery, or care center, or who patiently teaches their grandma on the phone how to facetime so they can visit without exposure, or who cheers neighbors by standing at the curb and playing the violin for them, or who continues to reach out to families who are separated and desperate, supplying them with hope and so much more, or who walks with or stands with those who are marginalized – those with less or no privilege – who are at much greater risk at times like this…each person who is creating new life during this onslaught on the world as we know it, is doing it with love.
Each moment is a time where I can choose. Am I struggling because I don’t want to let go of any part of the way the world used to be? Am I clinging to resentment, blame, fear?
When asked in recent years what I felt the world’s greatest problems are, I responded, “The greatest problems are that we, as humans, look for reasons for barriers, for division, for “me” being right and “the other” being wrong. And, we live as though what is important is scarce, and limited. The idea that there is only so much power, money, land, rights, opportunity, knowledge – and that if someone else has more means I will have less, therefore I have to hoard it and deny it to others. This quickly leads to thinking there is a scarcity of love, and mercy, and kindness, and generosity. We deny it to others so we can keep it for ourselves. We will even say that God’s love and mercy is limited and scarce, so we will claim to know who is worthy and who is not.”
I have lived a wonderful life, in an amazing world. I have plenty of reason to want that to continue.
And, it is a world where people of great wealth will risk lives in order to acquire more. It is a world where people who have great security and resources will separate families and imprison children, because it makes them feel safer to do so. It is a world where people are so determined that the way they were raised to think has to be the only right way, they are willing to deny people who might be different the opportunity and ability to exist in any kind of fulfilling way.
I have been a part of that world.
If there is anything that is scarce in the lives of these people living in scarcity, it is the experience of unconditional, abundant love.
Maybe this is a time to let go of the past world as we know it.
Maybe this is a time to create a new world of abundance.
We can all be a part of it. We are all breathing, living, existing together.