This is such a paradoxical time of the year. Nights are the darkest and days are the shortest, and yet it is the time when we honor light – lights on our houses, candles everywhere, and the celebrations of light in many religions. This is also a time of darkness on our planet. Wars are raging, the environment is deeply challenged, and many people are in some form of financial crisis.
What would it be like if, instead of focusing on the dark, we focused on the possibilities that are coming from this time of crisis? Every great evolutionary shift on this planet has come through a time of crisis as the old is letting go and the new is being born. We are in that kind of crisis where humanity is being invited into a whole new way of viewing themselves and viewing life.
In rereading my first book, Belonging to Life, I came across a poem that I had not remembered for a number of years. It comes from Wendell Berry:
In the dark of the moon…
in the dead of night…..
in the dead of winter……in flying snow,
the world in danger,
families dying…….wars spreading,
I walk the rocky hillside
Are we willing to plant clover, not only in our individual lives but in the life of our planet? And what does it mean to plant clover? A number of years ago Oprah did a show on John of God, the farmer-turned-healer in Brazil. Hundreds of thousands of people make the trek to his little village in order to be in his presence and hopefully be healed. He does surgeries without anesthesia or antiseptics, but mostly inner healings as people sit quietly in a meditation room for three hours.
One of the people Oprah interviewed was Dr. Jeff Rediger, a psychiatrist from Harvard who went down to Brazil as a skeptic. He shared that after sitting in the healing room, he was walking down the road and a spot on his skin by his heart opened up and spontaneously began bleeding. He said that at that moment his whole version of reality was turned upside down and he realized that none of life is what we think it is. He said he is not exactly sure what is happening there in Brazil, but some of the things he said on the show were profound and speak to the shift in perception that I am inviting us into. Here are some of his thoughts:
“In short, we all matter far more than we typically have a clue about and love is what is real. We tend to believe in what we can see and touch and believe that the world as it appears to be is the real world. On the basis of my experience, I’ve come to believe that reality is both revealed and concealed by the world we see with our eyes, and that none of us are who we appear to be.
“We really do matter more than we have a clue. Every one of us does. There is something unrepeatable and good about who we are. There is something mysterious about being human. I believe that our suffering comes from not getting it about the dignity and goodness of what our individual life means.
“I also believe that we often may feel alone. We are not alone in any way like we believe we are. We are more connected than we believe. There is a dignity and goodness to what we bring into the world. And the point of our lives is somehow to begin to get that.”
Dr. Rediger’s experience was about being shifted out of the old paradigm where the only thing that is real is what we can experience with our five senses. The new paradigm understands that this is all energy and the essence of the energy is love. What if all that we are going through is a cracking open of a very limited perspective into one that understands the inter-connectedness of everything so that we can live from the knowing that we truly matter – that there IS something unique about each one of us, that we each have dignity and goodness to share with the world, and that we are not alone?
As we shift our perspective about ourselves, we touch others in a way that reminds them of their unique goodness. And that is how our world is healed. Dr. Rediger was opened into this new perspective and you can see this by the few lines from his writing that Oprah read at the end of the show:
“Perhaps the real heart within us is not just a pump. Perhaps the real heart within us is about love and faith. Perhaps the physical body is not who we really are. Perhaps we are invisible souls walking around, and the body is just an instrument or a metaphor for something we are trying to learn.”
May we all, at this time of celebration in the darkness of winter, lift our eyes and hearts into the full possibility of what it means to be human.