When I’m going through a tough time, or the world around me is challenging like it is now, I don’t derive comfort from hearing, “This, too, shall pass.” I know some people do and I’m glad, but for me, when I hear, “This, too, shall pass” my response is, “When? Can you give me a timeframe? An estimate even?” But no one really knows, except for some stellar psychics, but I’ve never met any of those. If you have, can you give them my number? I have some questions.
Instead, what comes to mind right now is a quote that is misattributed to Winston Churchill: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Because honestly, what other choice is there? When life is grim, when smoke is so thick you can’t see across the street, when the sun is blocked from view and you think you’re on another planet the sky is so orange, what do you do? You keep putting one foot in front of the other over and over again until things change. And the only way I know how to do that is to borrow from another cliché prevalent in 12-step communities: one day at a time.
I read an article in the Atlantic recently by Molly Jong-Fast that sums up this principle beautifully. She wrote:
Look, I’m as obsessed with “getting back to normal” as everyone else is, but I try not to worry about when that will be possible. I’ll lose it if I think in terms of hanging on until there’s a vaccine. Some people may find it helpful to tell themselves, It’s not forever. It’s just a few months. In my experience, though, when there’s no firm deadline for the end of an ordeal—and no one really knows when the pandemic will end—it’s better to focus on getting through the day. Life isn’t lived two weeks from now, or two months from now. Life exists in the moment and nowhere else.
Life exists in the moment and nowhere else. That means I can’t think about when it will rain, when I can open my windows again, when I can step outside without an n99 mask designed to filter out smoke. Instead I can focus on the moment, like the carrot I’m munching on while I type this, or my flowers swaying in the breeze.
I can also get quiet and touch the inner calm, the inner strength that lies within me and within everyone. The point of my spiritual practice is not to run away from the world, to search for a better, happier place, but instead to recognize the divinity present here, now. My spiritual practice affirms over and over again that I am an expression of an infinite, loving consciousness. That this body, this mind, this world is an expression of Spirit both beautiful and terrible.
My spiritual teacher says “God” is an acronym that stands for Generator, Operator, and Destroyer. That means God is not only the beauty in the world but also the ugly. And the reality is the cycle of life is a never-ending rhythm of creation, operation, and destruction. I don’t like it, I don’t wish for it, I still act responsibly with regards to my life and the lives of others, but can I have some perspective? Can I remember that God is here, too, in this hell? That’s the work anyway.
I dream of a world where we keep going in the most hellacious of circumstances. A world where we continue to take each day as it comes doing the next right action and then the next. A world where we remember God is not only the wonderful, but the terrible. A world where we realize that in the horrible, Spirit is there, too.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.