Daniel, priest, author, spiritual theologian, writes these words in his final book as he recorded living with his own dying with cancer. Life and the many relationships in his life became his teacher and were instrumental in his journey of transformation towards authenticity, brave honesty and utter integrity. He even found himself questioning celibacy, a lifestyle he had lived all his life. His God was a god of relationship and celibacy made no sense to him outside of a context of relationship.
It is these words that I have found myself being drawn to, in times of quiet reflection, over these past weeks.
We have often heard words like Solidarity, Global Community, Common Humanity, and until recently these have simply been concepts that we have found ourselves intellectualising about. NOW they are no longer concepts but the reality we are all living. All humanity without exception is finding ways to live with an experience of suffering on many levels, that no one will be spared - here in Australia and across the world.
The living with is what I believe needs to be our focus, which was the very insight Daniel O’Leary came to, as he received the news of his terminal diagnosis. He could have simply waited for death but instead chose to live! This too is the opportunity being offered to us in this pandemic time for our world!
The reality of our lives can be our initiator to transform our anger, fear, frustration, boredom, anxiety, despair, blaming etc., but only when we can allow ourselves to let go of our constant need to control, or to have answers, or to have a sense of being ‘in charge’ of our future. It is when we can begin to recognise the invitations being given to us, in this time that we can begin to hear not just the voice of our own EGO, but recognise we are all part of a much greater reality. Our task is simply to be a participant in allowing reality to transform us or the danger becomes, if we don’t allow ourselves to be transformed, we simply transmit onto others all the negativity we might be currently experiencing.
This time can be lived as a cathartic moment for our church, ourselves and our world.
What have been some of the invitations you have found yourself hearing?
- There is freedom in living simply.
- I am not that important. Life is not about me, I am a participant in life.
- Family, friends and the communication between us does nourish my heart and soul, but so often is neglected when my work is how I define myself. (Especially for men!)
- The very hiding place and the revelation place for God is LIFE.
- We are the Church, which is larger than any one building, reminding us that “every life has an influence on every other kind of life”. (Richard Rohr)
- Oppression, exclusion, homelessness, judgement etc. lead to isolation. NOW in our isolation we are being offered an opportunity to grow in empathy and compassion for those within minority groups in our community who have known this way for a long time!
- As one parishioner put it: “Is there any point in blaming anyone\country\race for the current pandemic? In our isolation which is motivated by a desire to stop the virus spreading and help ourselves and others to avoid contracting the virus, can we forget judgement/ blame and move onto forgiveness/ tolerance and love?”
- I don’t always have to be doing, BEING is okay!