Every challenge in life has the potential to teach us so much.
To open our closed eyes, to bring us nearer to inclusion and love, to allow us to ease the grip of human fear.
What have you learned during the pandemic?
What spiritual lessons have penetrated your flesh and bones?
Here are some thoughts about what I’ve learned so far during this pandemic. (OK, maybe should edit to say–am still learning, but let’s go with the idea that something has been learned.)
I have learned how polarized we humans can become with our thinking.
I have learned how each of us comes from different angles, different beliefs, different ways of viewing life and death. How folks can interpret fear in entirely different and unique ways.
I have learned very humbly that I have held strong beliefs that contributed to the polarization.
I watched my own anger (against the viewpoint of others) rise swiftly time and time and time again, notably in early summer 2020.
I allowed the anger to rise with its bile and upset, and saw that it contained repressed anger from an entire lifetime of damping down and judging the anger-flame within.
I have sat with the virus of self-righteousness and pointed fingers at others (usually behind their backs) who thought differently. You are wrong, wrong, wrong, dear brother and sister of the human race. So very wrong.
I felt sadness, upset, injustice, frustration, annoyance, hatred.
I have feared the viewpoints of others more than I have feared the virus.
I suddenly began to understand wars, hatred, unforgiveness, Nazi Germany, Rwanda, the millions of conflicts of humanity. (Before I understood intellectually. Now I understood in my quivering hopeless heart.)
It took many months to loosen the grips on my own viewpoint and compassionately see the viewpoints of others. Sometimes I still sit in the jail cells of my own sanctimonious judgment. (And it’s OK that we have judgments, let’s not demonize these either.)
I am still learning how to do this, but now it’s more often possible to sit with the opposing opinion and truly hear it. To hear where it arises from love and fear. To recognize that love and fear intermingle in our viewpoints, and it’s a rare viewpoint that doesn’t try to dominate, to be right.
It has felt like being in the trenches during this pandemic. Learning how to see from the eagle’s eyes as it soars over the bloody battlefield below. (And I thought I already KNEW this, so it has been so so humbling.)
This afternoon–talking on the phone with you or you or you–I might still feel my opinion arise with its indignation, its feeling of rightness, its fixated point of view. (And there’s nothing wrong with a fixated point of view. It’s when it becomes rigid and myopic that brings us to the brink of fierce wrongness and rightness.) But, God willing and the creek don’t rise, I will also be able to hear what you are expressing and not rush in to offer my different opinion in the mandala of life. If I can’t hear this immediately, I might be able to feel it before bedtime as it shifts and wiggles out of self-righteous fixation.
I have learned that my own opinion can more resemble a sapling, bending, bending, bending. It might resemble a root in its solid conviction–but those branches sway in the breeze to reveal new possibilities, new points of view, new processed information.
I’ve learned to add not-knowing into the mix.
I thought I knew this before the pandemic, but it was only an intellectual understanding. The pandemic brought me onto my knees as humanity’s dark polarizations of right and wrong splayed out in bloody horror.
I don’t know. I don’t really know. Here’s what I think, but I may be wrong. Here’s how I will act, but it’s not a ticket to heaven. This feels right, but your knowing is sacred, too, and it’s often been an unconscious need-to-be-right that won’t see the holiness shining through your star of Being.
This can be hard work, this soaring above many different viewpoints, and then having the courage to build a campfire and roast marshmallows together with those who insist life’s values are different than ours. I suppose it’s the work of a lifetime. Seeing the virus of polarization and learning how to love beyond its perimeters. Failing again and again, but sometimes succeeding.
Here, take this marshmallow and tell me what you’ve learned during the pandemic. What have you learned thus far?
What have I learned so far? Not nearly as much as there is to learn. My tolerance of those who oppose my viewpoints has not become as well-honed as yours seems to – my frustration with those who say they have objections, religious or otherwise, to getting the vaccine has not lessened. How can they not see that the only way out of this is for each and every one of us to take advantage of any precautions available? Why has being vaccinated become political? I have learned this – I am tired of political, and I think there are many things in our systems, in our society, that need a bit of renovation. Good for you, Kathy, to be able to see with the eyes of an eagle. I cannot. Yet.
Oh gosh, Carol, I totally get your frustration–have so been there. As for seeing with the eyes of an eagle, that seems a long endless task. But the alternative just hurts so damn much. ((Hugs)) for all the parts of ourselves that haven’t glimpsed the eagle’s views. We have much to learn from these parts, too.
I have learned that my soul wanted to play out “the victim”-role – so that it could at last wrap all of that in loving acceptance. And just when I have seen that and forgiven myself for wanting to be RIGHT about being a victim, I feel so tremendously bad that it is difficult to feel badder. I have learned that those who oppose me often are right – when I do not push up against them. I have learned that it is almost impossible to share why it felt wrong – bone-wrong – to have the vaccine – and I did it anyway in order to have others feel safer with me. I have learned that the universe faithfully plays all the roles I need it to play in order to find all pieces of myself. And I have learned how deep my mistrust in myself runs.
That is utterly beautiful, Leelah, and this part really spoke to me–I have learned that the universe faithfully plays all the roles I need it to play in order to find all pieces of myself. That feels so right and whole. I forget that part a lot. Thank you for adding this to the mandala of lessons we’ve learned.
Kathy, I am still learning about myself through these very emotional months. Of course I am right (geesh!) however, I have to give you the right to be ‘right’ as well. That is hard. Outwardly I might give you some nods of my head but inside I am putting you on the left or right side and giving you a label. I tend to think it was all too much at once. Pandemic, elections, isolation, illness, and so much time alone. Being human is hard, isn’t it?
Of course we are right! (grinning with you) But it’s really really hard for some of us to get past that labeling and judging. Or to relax into allowing it ALL just to be hard, this human journey. I love how you’re throwing your arms around we struggling humans in your comment. ❤
I think you are farther along in your journey than I am. I still hold onto a lot of frustration and anger. I find that I am avoiding even the possibility of conflict rather than interacting with others. I know this isn’t healthy and I’m trying to relax a bit.
Oh Sherry I do understand the frustration, anger and avoidance. I have walked that path too! (And am still walking it at times.) But am learning slowly slowly slowly how to relax into it. It feels, in Christian terms, like we’re one body in Christ and when we judge it just ends up hurting ourselves. At least it has ended up hurting me… (Now, discernment is another thing, I think. But that feels less charged and more loving somehow.)
Maggie, I love your honesty about how you deal with life – then it is so simple to ponder hm, do i do that too? and of course I do – at least some times
I don’t know that I’ve learned anything that I didn’t already know. But now I finally understand how divisiveness and lack of compromise fueled a war of brother against brother.
Yes, and it’s done so many times in history. We humans keep repeating this over and over again, don’t we? May we continue to open our hearts to all. ❤
I have learned the value of my Spiritual practice and Trust. I have stumbled my way into purpose. I have healed old wounds and learned to accept the world as it is. I have learned my anger is a sign to look with in. I have learned that I really love my life. I have learned that my next role will be caretaker. Abundance flows to and through me. To stop and notice every purple flower. I am not alone.
This really beautiful, Sarah. You have learned so much! I am feeling the abundant beauty in your path and sensing the purple flowers all around…
I have learned that people with opposing views believe in them just as much as I believe in mine. And even though I believe they are 100% wrong I have learned I am not going to change their minds with facts or logic or anything, so if they matter to me I have to just let it go.
Letting go has been such a theme for many of us during these pandemic days. (But I had to laugh out loud when you said they are 100% wrong, that tickles my funny bone.) Thanks for sharing your lesson, Dawn. ❤
Sadly, what I have learned during the pandemic is that some Americans no longer believe in making sacrifices for the common good. (I keep hoping this is a noisy minority of us.) Being faced with this day in and day out makes practicing equanimity very difficult for me, but I keep trying to cultivate it. I agree with you about not-knowing. For the first time in my life I’ve gotten better at seeing both sides of some stories. And not-knowing which way to go. I’ve also learned that my walks outside are essential to my mental health!
It really is hard to learn that elusive practice of equanimity, isn’t it my friend? It can sometimes seem like two steps forward and three steps backwards. Isn’t it interesting when we can relax into not-knowing even a little bit? Even that can ease constrictions around our heart, or at least has with mine. As for walks–I totally agree with you!
This is so right. This is so true. I am reading what I would like to say. Kudos to you for this.
Thank you, Dor. I am so glad you resonate with this. ❤
Dearest Kathy, you always have wonderful words of wisdom to offer, and I love that you can so eloquently speak of the things you have learned. What I have learned is that the best way to avoid conflict is to say nothing at all. You may have noticed I haven’t been blogging – that’s the reason why. Ultimately, what I have learned is that there is no single person in the world who knows the long-term effects of the vax because it hasn’t been around long enough. I fear the uncertainty. I resent politicians who think they can control our lives and have created discrimination in my country where none existed before. You call it a pandemic … in Australia we have not had a “pandemic”, yet we have some of the most debilitating restrictions seen around the world. Did you know that the cause of all this hullabaloo was the 38th highest cause of death in Australia during 2020? ‘Flu, accidental falls, even car accidents took more lives. I have learned that politicians cannot be trusted and the power of control goes to their heads.
See why I am not blogging? It feels like there’s a dark cloud hovering over my country right now. What I am learning does not feel good at all.
Hi, Joanne–yes, it’s very hard to talk with people who think differently and I couldn’t speak for a long time. I understand why you’ve quit blogging. And I have heard about some of the restrictions in Australia, and some of them sound really challenging. We have had a LOT of people die of the virus in our small rural community, and that’s sad to see, too. I do not know the answers–but am hearing that the restrictions do not feel good to you at all. Many blessings to you and yours.
I can cope with speaking to people who have a different opinion, but when they ridicule people who don’t think the same as they do, that’s when I have a huge problem. I see it everywhere on Facebook, and I have backed away now and say nothing.
We hear about the deaths overseas and my heart aches for the losses people are suffering. Many blessings to you and your family also, Kathy. ❤