Sometimes this COVID-19 feels like we’re walking through the “Valley of the Shadow of Death,” especially when we see the staggering statistics from Italy and realize how quickly the virus is spreading in places like New York City.
A friend told me today he feels we’re living in a period akin to the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl era. Songs are being composed about it. There are thoughtful essays being written. Scientists are creating impressive graphs showing the statistics of known contagions to death tolls and analyzing the relationships to age and climate. Novels will be written that will be classics in the decades to come.
How do we live through this “Valley of the Shadow of Death” without fear?
There are the usual responses: pray, sequester and meditate, have faith, bury your head…
But, while I do believe in the power of our Maker, and I pray daily for the Source of all comfort to bring us healing and peace, there are a few other ways I keep myself FROM feeling the gloom that seems to be enveloping so many. You probably have a list of ways, too. I’d love to have you share yours with me.
Here are my four favorite remedies for avoiding the paralysis of fear:
Music – sing, play, or listen to uplifting songs on YouTube or XM Radio. I love seeing those folks on their balconies in Italy making joyful music together, don’t you? I just listened to Bono and Will.i.am singing a song they wrote for/to the Italians. Google it! Music soothes the soul and uplifts the spirit.
Write – as a blogger, you know how therapeutic it is to put words on paper, in a journal, on a card to a friend, or here on WordPress. Write about what keeps you positive and passionate.
Connect – on the internet or by phone, through a window or across a fence. I just installed a new app on my phone and iPad. It’s called ZOOM. Do you know it? The basic version is free. It’s like FaceTime, but it works on other platforms besides Apple products. My friends in California and Bob & I had a great conversation. It was like sitting across the table from our friends who are 1200 miles away from us. We miss them and it lifted our spirits to see and reconnect with them.
Walk – when the weather permits, go for a walk with your dog or a friend or both. I did that yesterday in our Lion’s Club Park. Yes, we practiced social distancing, but we could chat and laugh and encourage one another. It’s good for body and soul. And TazE loved it, too.
Do tell your dog he’s gotta walk, too!
Tell me, what ways do you avoid walking in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death” these days?
Each morning I wonder what Bible verse will speak to me today. I wonder what phrase I will “take away” with me. I wonder how I can keep my faith alive, growing, and contagious.
I read today’s page in Daily Guideposts 2020 and I go to my Bible to read the chosen scripture in its larger context. And then I write the “take away” on the page provided at the end of the month.
These WONDERful phrases keep the Wonder alive in my life.
I pray that perhaps these phrases can help keep the wonder alive in your life, too.
Know God is Always With You
Use Your Talents for Common Good
Be a Ready Helper
Find Strength in Faith
Always Be Honest
Trust in God’s Leading
Keep Faith Alive
Be a Blessing
Love Without Condition
Trust God’s Faithfulness
God’s Love is Perfect ❤
Set Your Affairs in Order
Praise God for His Creativity
Always Show Your Love
Pray for Our Leaders
Help Others in Need
Play a Song of Perseverance
Make Me a Loving Servant
Thanks for Friends, Love, and Laughter
Praise God for His Protection
Concentrate on the Positive
Thank God for Grit!
Wear Your Faith Visibly and Honestly
Commit to 40 Days of Sacrifice
Put Faith Into Action
Lean on Him for Wisdom and Strength
You may consider getting your copy of Daily Guideposts 2020 for your morning devotionals. There are still ten months left to enjoy and be inspired by its daily messages. I find it to be a WONDERful way to start my day.
When the great Sufi mystic and poet Jalal-ud-Din Rumi died at sunset in Konya, southern Turkey, on December 17, 1273, he had composed over 3,500 odes, 2,000 quatrains, and a vast spiritual epic called the Mathnawai. Now with A Year of Rumi from acclaimed Rumi scholar Andrew Harvey, you will receive a hand-selected poem from this incredible visionary’s life work every day for the next year – that’s 365 poems from the 13th century.
Increasingly, Rumi is being recognized as the unique spiritual genius he is, as someone who is fused at the highest level and with the greatest possible intensity the intellect of a Plato, the vision, passion and soul-force of a Christ or Buddha, and the extraordinary literary gifts of a Shakespeare. Rumi is, not only the world’s greatest mystical poet, but also an essential guide to the new planetary spiritual renaissance that is slowly emerging from the ruins of our civilization. He speaks to us from the depths of our own sacred identity, and what he says has the electric eloquence of our innermost truth. No other poet or philosopher has Rumi’s almost frightening intimacy of address, and has conveyed the terror, rapture and wonder of awakening to Divine Love with such fearless and gorgeous courage, such humility and such unflinching clarity. “The daily poems have become a routine part of my morning, and they always seem to resonate with difficulties that I am currently facing. That means that each morning, I am given a few minutes to just consider the meaning behind my choices, the value behind what I care about, and ways to better love those closest to me. These few minutes have become a centering time of self-actualization.”You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.
One of the world’s foremost Rumi interpreters, Andrew Harvey began a life-long exploration and explication of Rumi and Sufi mysticism in Paris in 1984, with a group of French Sufis and under the guidance of Eva De Vitray-Meyerovitch, the magnificent translator of Rumi into French. This collection of versions of Rumi by Andrew Harvey contains some of the master’s most luminous verse, along with some of his lesser-read poems, with the aim of presenting a balanced view of his teaching that includes both the high-flying love of God and the rigorous path of discipline essential for those who seek it.
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
“Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth, trust that.”
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”
“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”
“In the blackest of your moments, wait with no fear.”
“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.”
“Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there.” Actual course participants share their experiences
“I just started my year of Rumi and it is one of the best gifts I could ever give myself!”
“Rumi brings me closer to God than I have ever been. I feel as though Rumi lives within me and I, him. I hope to find through this course that Rumi can help me let go and let God.”
“Rumi is the truth. The whole world it is in danger – how we can change that only by love? To love each other and not by words, but by actions. Love is the universal law. We live in world with no boundaries, no walls and no control. We are free and do not want to be controlled.”
“Have you not spent hours gazing at the night sky under a spiraling Milky Way in utter joy? Rumi must have done that. His oneness with All is everywhere explicit in this work.”
“Rumi messages are very spiritual and deep, sometimes it takes me a few days to get the real meaning, but the process is what is about to open up and seek deep within you.”
“Rumi has the ability to always connect with the Almighty, as if in tune.”
“I have found that every time I read a Rumi poem it immediately resonates within my soul, my spirit. I use to be in quest for the perfect Rumi poem; however, I have found that each are so loving and beautiful that they are expanding inside of me. The more I take them in the more they grow and the deeper the feelings of these gems go inside my soul, my spirit. There is a personal journey commencing for me and I find that there are few words to adequately explain what I am feeling but that of the feeling of joy.”
“I enjoy receiving the daily translations in my inbox, it delights my soul to relish in all that is Rumi. I have a greater appreciation for the simple pleasures of life because of his poetry. He inspires me to create not from the mind, but to feel and think with the soul.” About Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey is an internationally renowned religious scholar, writer, and teacher, and the author of over 30 books, including the critically acclaimed Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, as well as The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, Journey to Ladakh, The Return of the Mother, Son of Man, and The Direct Path: Creating a Journey to the Divine Using the World’s Mystical Traditions. He is also coauthor of the best-selling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. His work has been honored with the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Mind Body Spirit Award (both for Mary’s Vineyard: Daily Readings, Meditations, and Revelations, with photographs by Eryk Hanut), and the Christmas Humphries Award for A Journey in Ladakh. Born in south India in 1952, Harvey studied at Oxford University and became a Fellow of All Soul’s College in 1973. He is Founding Director of the Institute for Sacred Activism.
This article inspired me to look more deeply into this 13th century genius. My blogging. Writers’ Group friend, Lilie Allen (@ WordPress Tea, Toast and Kindness) often quotes him. I think this 365 page book of selected writings by Rumi sounds promising.
I posted earlier today from my cell phone while we were up at Big Sky. Bob was enjoying a day of skiing with Nancy, his ski buddy, while I was inside making new friends, keeping warm, and reading the book that our Ennis Book Club will be discussing at tomorrow’s meeting.
I also browsed the shops at the Big Sky mall and photographed a few things (taking them home in my camera is way better than buying them!).
I enjoyed the trip to Big Sky from Ennis. The snow was so beautiful!
But once we arrived at the ski area, I was more than happy to avoid the cold and stay in the lodge. Some of you may think that’s crazy; others of you may relate. I didn’t learn to ski as a child, broke my leg as a teen, took a long time to heal, and have a fear of falling down and breaking it again. I prefer to stay in the lodge!
A Guy Named Kenny
Before Bob & Nancy could get from the parking lot to the lodge (where they had dropped me off), I met a guy named Kenny. Well actually, he met me. I was sitting quietly in the corner with my book when he approached me. Told me I reminded him of his grandma. I learned all about his family … and was in deep conversation with him when Bob & Nancy arrived. Even got his grandma’s chicken soup recipe! (Should have taken Kenny’s picture for you!) Nice guy!
After Bob & Nancy went up to ski, I went to Montana Jack’s for an Irish coffee. I was sitting with my book at the bar, sipping my drink when a guy about my son’s age sat down and struck up a conversation with me. I found out he was from Colstrip, MT and his wife is a child psychiatrist working with Autistic children. The darling, young waitress treated me to a delicious piece of apple pie to go with my coffee. She adopted me as her Grandma and so did my new friend from Colstrip (I love it).
Back Home Again
Returning home, we nearly got stuck in the drifts that had blown onto our driveway. I was reluctant to go out again, but Bob really wanted to treat me to a Happy Anniversary dinner at our favorite Ennis restaurant, The Alley Bistro. So, we braved the weather and had a great evening. We managed to return home and inch our way through the snow drifts safely. It was a Happy Anniversary indeed. Thanks for all your good wishes.
Time for bed… but first I have to finish that book. Somehow today I didn’t get much reading done. Had too much fun making new friends. Can you relate?
We are a divided country. The words “they” and “them” are heard more frequently today than ever before in my 80 years of life.
What is causing this? And what can we do about it? Here is one man’s suggestion. I think it is so true.
Right on! It’s as true in China (where the Corona virus is rampant, and citizens are bravely speaking out against a government that acted slowly on the knowledge of the virus), as it is in the USA where election rhetoric is hateful and divisive.
So how do we begin to “fight for each other?”
From his prison cell in Rome, Paul wrote to the people of Colosse. He had visited there before his imprisonment. His letter to them in the book of Colossians was written to encourage them, just as we, the people of this divided world, need encouragement today.
Colossians 2: 1-3 “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you… and for all those who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart, and united in love, so they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ.”
Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore… clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive what ever grievances you may have against one another… And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Yes, the Bible has words of wisdom, words of advise for ALL in times of trouble. We need only open its pages to find scripture that directs our paths toward the unity we all seek. In Colossians, Paul tells us to put on:
… and in so doing, we will find the peace of Christ living in our hearts. We are members of one body. We are ONE. We need to know that without a doubt and act accordingly.
Don’t let hateful rhetoric divide our oneness into the “they-them” and “we-us” mentality!