EARLY COVID-19

My distance and loneliness

In a poisoned world

My amusements and study

Grow vapid and I wonder

What to do in all this

In my state of shock, my enervated will

I can’t bring myself to do anything

Struggle with the clock that doesn’t seem to move time

Distancing, social isolation, and loneliness

How strange commercials from the old days seem

Tight social groups at cafes, parties, mobs at pop concerts

And New York city streets like a ghost-town

I try to wrap my mind around it all

What it all means, what it will mean

The economy, unemployment, isolation

How long?  What it all means

Shops shut down, restaurants, businesses

And all those workers unemployed now

The number of incidents rises, the death toll

They say weeks, probably months of this

Then we will emerge—but to what?

The scar COVID-19 will leave on the world we used to know

For now, the greatest love means isolation

Some Swedenborgian Truths in a Time of Crisis

Some Swedenborgian Truths in a Time of Crisis

Religious people may have mixed feelings about the Covid-19 virus.  In addition to the strange new restrictions on our social life, the growing numbers of sick, and the death toll, religious people may want to force meaning onto this pandemic.  I think that we are in a kind of state of shock as we try to understand what is going on.  Religious people may ask why this is going on.  But asking theological questions while in a state of shock, or panic, is not wise.

The first thing that Swedenborgians would assert is that this is not punishment from God.  God doesn’t punish.  From one way of looking at it, you could say that God can’t punish.  God is good and can do only good.  God can do only loving things.  God does only loving things.  God does only good to us.  Consider this quote from Swedenborg,

as He wills only what is good he can do nothing but what is good. . . . From these few statements it can be seen how deluded those are who think, and still more those who believe, and still more those who teach, that God can damn any one, curse any one, send any one to hell, predestine any soul to eternal death, avenge wrongs, be angry, or punish.  He cannot even turn Himself away from humanity, nor look upon anyone with a stern countenance (True Christianity n. 56).

So Swedenborgians would say that the pandemic is not punishment from God.

The pandemic is not a sign of the Last Days.  The Book of Revelation talks about a plague coming in the Last Days.  Swedenborgians say that the Book of Revelation is about what goes on inside us.  The battles and plagues and earthquakes are symbolic of our spiritual struggles.  After all, Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly.  Neither will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’  For the kingdom of God is inside.”  There have been several “plagues” in my lifetime.  There was h1n1, swine flu, and the sars virus.  Either one of these could have been called the plagues pointing to the end times.  Then there was the Black Plague of the middle ages.  That happened in the 14th century.  People then thought that they were in the end times.  But we got through all these plagues and forgot about them and the end times.  And we will get through this.

In these hard times, more than ever, we need to think about our neighbor.  We need to practice social distancing to protect ourselves and our neighbors.  Many of us will experience financial hardships.  Those of us who are fortunate financially are in a position to wisely help out when they can and as they are able.  I don’t mean to minimize the difficulties we will go through in the months ahead.  But we will get through it.  Now, more than in times of prosperity, neighbor love is needed.  As we all struggle through the uncertainty, fear, and hardships, love will get us through.  And though we practice social distancing, we are not alone. God is going through this with us.  “Behold I am with you always.”  Let’s be with one another, too, always.

 

 

 

BEFORE AND AFTER YOU

There was a time before you

life was hollow

There was a time before you

time itself was a bitter pill to swallow

 

There was a time before you

I cowered in insecurity

Now you are with me

I measure my steps with confidence and surety

 

Now you are with me

in every trying situation

Now you are with me

with constant affirmation

 

Now you are with me

life is meaningful

Now you are with me

for you, for us, I am grateful

 

You and I are us

your joy is my study, my occupation

You and I are us

our joy is a continuing vacation

Melanie: Woodstock’s Unsung Voice

We still hear about Woodstock, even in 2020.  But we hear only what the media wants us to hear about it.  Media accounts of Woodstock make it look like the festival was all about drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll.  But it wasn’t.  Peace and love filled to spirit of the festival.  Love isn’t just free love, or sex.  It is a love for each other.  And we don’t hear much about the spirit of Woodstock.  And spirituality at Woodstock.  Even in the four-hour documentary movie about Woodstock, there is no footage of Melanie.  Melanie’s take on Woodstock makes the festival a spiritual experience.  Indeed it was, or it wouldn’t be remembered.  No one would remember just a week-end of drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll.

Listen to Melanie’s words about Woodstock in her song, “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”:

We were so close there was no room
We bled inside each others wounds
We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace
Some came to sing, some came to pray
Some came to keep the dark away

Melanie had a spiritual experience while performing at Woodstock, and the crowd knew it, and they were with her.  She says,

“At that moment, 500,000 people saw me have this spiritual awakening because I realised that I wasn’t a body. The body is a separate thing to whatever you want to call it, the spirit or the soul or whatever. The actual being of me was not that body. I left.  That moment that happened in front of those people, that was the uniqueness of Woodstock, for me. And even though people didn’t know what was happening, they knew something had happened. And they were with me.”

Melanie doesn’t use drugs, so the spirituality was real.  There was that spirit, that spirituality at Woodstock, too.  There were those who came to pray, to keep the darkness away, who sang songs of peace, who were so close they bled inside each others’ wounds.

For whatever reason, we don’t hear about that aspect of Woodstock.  And we don’t hear about Melanie.  She is Woodstock’s unsung voice.  But for those of us lucky enough to know Melanie’s music and beautiful spirit, Melanie’s take on Woodstock gives as much light as 500,000 lit candles raised against the dark.

BIRTH AND SECOND BIRTH

Today we celebrate the day that’s you

But I celebrate this day for me, too

On this day you were born into life

As if a second birth, you are to me as if a wife

 

Your birth, your birth to me, made my life live

That is what your birth and what you give

I didn’t really have a life till you

Then you came, then I was born anew

 

Today, this day is all yours and all you

But it’s also all about me, too

Now it’s us, not you or I separate

With you, our life is one eternal date

THE APOLLONIAN IDEAL

According to Nietzsche’s writing, my ideals would be called Apollonian

The Apollonian ideal according to which I live engenders

The isolation I have known

Sometimes despising it

Bare loneliness

Chasing learning, reading, practicing music, listening to music, writing

Pensive

All alone

Moving from one state to another

Across the borders of nations

Chasing schools, careers, saying goodbye

Assimilating the norms of new places

All alone, living alone, sleeping alone

Traveling alone—for business or edification, or it all

Times spent in solitude

Now enamored, in amour, estoy enamorado

Another soul in my solitude

Awakening love, awakened love, loving life, my life, the other

Loving even the Apollonian life I chose, choose still

In love with it all, enamorado de todo

TO RECAST A NARRATIVE

Outrage, grief, and pain pour forth from passion

From broken experiences of deep love

The other side of joy, ecstasy, and connection

Experiences of love fulfilled

Plato’s fear of passion nearly ended in renunciation of it all

He, Buddhists, the Hindu Sanyasis

Plato kept friendship, Buddhists kindness, Sanyasis peace

Into this Jesus was born with love

And recast the narrative

Giving place for grief, pain, and ecstasy

For sin, forgiveness, and new life

The great soul perfected in virtue recast

For a God who is near His children

Indifferent, diffident, vindictive Olympians recast

“That your joy may be complete.”

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