Crisis can be time to reconnect with our spirits, faith and family
Bermuda is now one week into the shelter-in-place order. As a community, we are collectively navigating this global pandemic known as Covid-19. The Governor of Bermuda issued a state of emergency on April 1 and it was ratified by the House of Assembly on April 6. Our country is officially on lockdown.
This is an unprecedented occurrence for my generation and something that Bermuda has not experienced in more than four decades. It is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But what if this time, aside from being a state of emergency, ushered us into a state of peace. A state where each of us took the time individually to connect or reconnect with our spirits and our faith and emerge from this pandemic with a heightened sense of community, clarity and purpose.
Times of solitude are often the precursor for times of great impact.
Solitude is the state of being alone and often considered one of the traditional spiritual disciplines. The idea is often associated with a period of silence, but that is not always necessary or practical in our postmodern world. The purpose is to be alone with God, to pray or meditate and attune oneself with the interior of our hearts.
In fact, all religious prophets underwent similar times of isolation and intense connection with God before embarking on their life's work.
The Bible is full of examples where humanity was able to commune with God in times of quiet. God came to Abraham while he sat alone outside his tent in Mamre (Genesis 18). Moses met God at the burning bush while he was tending to sheep (Exodus 3). Elijah heard God's voice while in hiding at Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19). And Jacob wrestled with God at night and he was blessed (Genesis 32).
Likewise, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness preparing for his earthly ministry. Buddah abandoned his worldly riches to seek enlightenment. And it was during the prophet Muhammad's time of personal solitude that he received the inspiration for the Koran.
There is a trend here. Periods of solitude have proven to be the most opportune times for God to make itself known to man. As the world around us becomes quiet, our hearts and our minds are more receptive to spiritual ideas.
The coronavirus is reshaping our world. It is forcing governments and churches and businesses to pause and to reflect. We do not know when or even if things will ever be the same again. Lives and livelihoods are being lost. As horrible as the pandemic is, could it be that God is still speaking to us — individually and collectively — through it. Asking us, maybe even begging us, to be still.
What if the real emergency is that humanity has lost its way. The hustle and bustle of regular life leaves most of us with little time to commune with the God of our understanding. It's often just an afterthought or a weekly habitual commitment. A tradition at Easter and Christmas.
But what if God is now challenging us to more? What if God is asking us to be intentional and deliberate about the ways we occupy our time? What if this pandemic was the only way to get our attention? To force us to slow down. To make us spend time with family. To help us reassess what is truly important. What if this was only way for humanity to transition into a state of peace?
A state where we are conscious and considerate of our neighbours. A state where we allow ourselves to exist fully present with love and gratitude. People of faith have an advantage. We trust and believe in a power greater than ourselves, irrespective of whatever name we choose to call it. We know in our hearts that there is something or someone at work beyond this physical realm. We can rest in the assurance that although this time may be challenging and full of uncertainty there is a higher purpose for it.
As we all continue to shelter in place, without the benefit of collective worship, may we use this time to strengthen our personal relationships with God. To remember all the things that are still good in this world and to reflect on the ways we can use our faith to help bring hope and joy to those around us.
How will you use this time of solitude? Will you go within to connect to your higher self and your higher calling here on Earth? Will you be consumed by panic or will you immerse yourself in peace?
The world may be in a state of emergency, but when our spirits are connected to a source that is greater than this world, we can have a peace that truly passes all understanding.