Into the Mystic: Shelter and Spiritual Hunger
As Christians, faith has shown us that there are blessings that come from every situation, if we stop and think about it.
On Jan. 5th, I returned to work after a nice holiday break. Not to my office, mind you, because the first thing I did when coming off the holiday was fly to Florida for a meeting. That’s often how my job works – I spend a lot of time on the road.
On March 9th, a little over two months later, I had spent a total of 47 days on the road and 20 days at home.
That was then.
This is now.
From March 9th until this day (and for how much longer, neither I nor anyone else can say), I have remained at home.
This is now my seventh week at home. Most of you listening to this are facing the same reality – obeying for good reason shelter-in-place orders so that we do not jeopardize our lives, the lives of people we love, or the lives of those among us who are vulnerable in this season of pandemic.
I do not offer a complaint. I am not asking for sympathy. This podcast is about spiritual awakenings and the pathways to pursue that. I wonder what it is you have found that feeds your spiritual hungers in this season of pandemic. I will share with you what is making it well with my soul.
When I awaken each morning, I go through the same daily routine that I went through when I worked from my office. I even wear a suit for the workday. I know that doesn’t sound very spiritual, but what it does is create a clear line of demarcation between my work life and my personal life. I put on my suit, go to a space that I only use while I am working–a guest bedroom now converted to serve as my office. When the workday ends, I change into my jeans or my sweatpants and a t-shirt and I don’t go back into that room.
I take a lunch break. I eat at my kitchen table and either do the NYT crossword or read. When I finish eating, I go out for a walk. I pray through that time, and too often these days the prayers come with tears attached to them.
When not on Zoom, I play music. There is a station I have set up on Pandora I call the Marty Haugen station. Marty is my favorite composer of spiritual music. Playing right now as I write this is his beautiful song “Shelter Me, O God.” In the background of my days is this cache of spiritual music that grounds me, calms me, or reminds me of my spiritual core.
I call leaders from across the life of the church. I ask them how they are doing, and then three other questions: What are you seeing? What are you learning? Where do you find hope?
For many, the length of this shelter in place order has come as an enormous burden. I truly understand that.
I will be honest, though. I am an introvert living the life of an extrovert. I really love what I do, but when I spent 47 days on the road and only 20 at home, my introvert-self suffers. Being at home where my bed is, my safe places are, and my introvert side can heal has been a great blessing to me. All my children are grown. My mother lives with my sister in St. Louis. And I have been able to spend every evening and wake up every morning with the one I married 37 years ago and have seen very little of these last five years. All of this has settled my soul and spirit.
We are all going to suffer loss before this ends. We all need something to sustain us through the long days that have come and are yet to come. I pray that you find your grounding in those things the faith has given us, for just such a time as this. Paul once wrote: “rejoice in all circumstances.” Faith offers us the capacity to do that–but it doesn’t come without some discipline, cultivation, and even at times a heavy cost. This is one of those times.
And may the deep wells of your faith sustain you on this part of a journey that leads us into and, with God’s brooding love, through the shadowed valleys of death we will encounter on this, our journey Into the Mystic.