-At the Desert Retreat House -
As I stood at the checkout line at the market the other day the cashier politely asked someone how he was doing? “Oh, I’m pretty stressed out,” to which the cashier responded, “Yeah, aren’t we all?”
I’ve been thinking about that little supermarket exchange. I guess it’s probably true that many if not most people are “pretty stressed out” nowadays. After all, this so-called “holiday season” is often a source of serious stress and anxiety for many people, but this year it seems even worse with all the stories about mass shootings, violence and “home-grown” terrorist plots.
Many times, when people feel that they are “all stressed out,” they turn to “God” to fix it and make it all better. I have even heard pastors tell people that they don’t really have anything to worry about because “God” is in charge. So, “Don’t worry, be happy.”
Personally I do not rely upon those kinds of glib assurances or quick and easy fixes in life., I don’t ever think of God as a “superman” who can press some cosmic buttons and fix all the problems of the world- make the gun violence stop, eliminate the terrorist plots or make the cancer go away.
And yet, while I do not at all believe that we can rely on a super-hero “God” to fix it all, I firmly believe that “God” is a Presence who abides with us in it all.
I believe that “God” is a Power that transcends any single one of us, abides among us, flowing in and through us, - the Universal Energy of Love in whom we all live and move and have our being, and so I don’t have to walk around “all stressed out” even in the darkest of times.
The 13th century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, once had a powerful insight into the nature of life. She experienced the “Abiding Presence” and it comforted her with a sense of deep peace, and in her writings she offered this assurance:
And all shall be well, and all shall be well.
And all manner of things shall be well.
She wasn’t mouthing pious platitudes, easy answers or glib assurances, telling people not to worry because God was going to straighten up all the mess in the world; rather, she was talking about her sense of underlying peace, a peace that passes all understanding because the power of Love abides come what may, and the power of Love and Light is greater than the power of darkness and hate.
As I examine some of the core teachings of most of the world’s religious wisdom traditions, I discover that they all promote the importance of the practice of equanimity on a spiritual path.
Equanimity is the stability of mind that allows us
to be present with an open heart to everything that comes our way
no matter how wonderful or how difficult.
It seems to me that we can only practice “equanimity” when we believe that, regardless of the “curves” that life may throw our way, it “all shall be well” because Love abides.
I am reminded of a blessing from another ancient source. In their own way, the pre-Christian Celtic Druids also had this sense that “all shall be well.” This Druid blessing seems especially appropriate to pray upon a troubled world today when so many people seem so “stressed out:”
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the Flowing Air to you.
Deep peace of the Quiet Earth to you
Deep peace of the Shining Stars to you.