Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Julian of Norwich’s Seven Lessons For Navigating A Pandemic

Facing The Darkness

  • Look darkness squarely in the face.

  • Do not deny or scapegoat the realities of the pandemic.

  • Take the pandemic as an opportunity to examine your goals and intentions.

  • Your life is short. How can you contribute? What gifts do you have to offer?

  • Stay connected with your fear, anger, grief, and despair.

  • Beware of addictions that numb and make you stupid and silly.

  • Face the darkness of our own personal shadow and do shadow healing work.

  • Stay close to the teachings of mystics, poets, indigenous wisdom.

Welcome Goodness, Joy, and Awe

  • Fall in love with nature and human goodness.

  • Realize what a blessing it is to be here in an amazing universe on an amazing planet after an amazing journey of 13.8 billion years.

  • Nature is God; God is nature. Immerse yourself in nature.

  • Seek and cherish awe. Julian says that “A reverent awe is the proper response to the supreme beauty of the sacred.”

  • Practice gratitude moment to moment.

Practice The One-ing of The Sacred and Life

  • Live your life as if there is no separation–between you and the sacred, between you and Earth, between you and other living beings.

  • All of nature is interdependent. We are interdependent with each other and with nature.

  • Understand how the story of separation shows up in your life. Notice your own “othering” in relation to people with whom you disagree. What might happen if you stopped “othering” them?

Understanding the Sacred Feminine and Divine Motherhood

  • Regardless of your gender, be aware of the patriarchal influences in your life, past and present.

  • Remember that patriarchy and gender are different. Women can be as patriarchal as men since patriarchy is simply a way of life based on power and control.

  • Learn how to be a spiritual warrior against patriarchy.

  • Learn how to be a spiritual midwife on behalf of goodness, compassion, generosity, awe, joy, and creativity.

Practice Non-Dualism and Living With Paradox

  • Practice holding the tension of opposites. Cultivate a both/and consciousness.

  • Consider that in the age of extinction, something profound is trying to be born in you and in the world.

  • The extinction of our species is likely, and at the same time, nothing is certain.

  • In Julian’s life, the Black Death came in waves. When people thought it was gone, it came again. Know that pandemics in our time are likely to repeat that pattern.

  • Stop asking “When will collapse happen?” It’s happening NOW, and we don’t get to know the outcome.

  • Experiencing joy will deepen your capacity to grieve. Grieving will enhance your capacity to experience deep joy.

  • The more you open to death, the more enlivened you become.

Trust Your Body and Your Sensuality

  • Julian said, “God is in our sensuality.” This is hardly a statement from an institutional, industrially-civilized Christian. Julian’s perspective was wild and nature-based.

  • Be at home with your body. She says, “God willed that we have a twofold nature: sensual and spiritual.”

  • Ground yourself in Earth-based spirituality and sensuality. Reject any spirituality that emphasizes transcendence, “rising above,” or escaping “this vale of tears.” Julian rejected the transcendent theology of her time, preferring to embrace nature and the body as holy.

Celebrate The Power of Love Over Evil

  • Know that all beings are “swimming in an ocean of divinity.” We have every right to dislike any being, but it is our responsibility to acknowledge their humanity and their divinity.

  • Embrace “mystical hope,” not conventional hope. Mystical hope is not tied to outcome and does not depend on external circumstances. It is nourished by our connection to the sacred within ourselves and in the world. As with Viktor Frankl’s experience in a Nazi death camp, mystical hope is about finding meaning and making meaning in all circumstances.

  • “All shall be well,” is not a declaration of naive optimism. It depends on our willingness to wake up and do the inner work that “pandemic times” demand of us.

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