By Gen Heywood
This last Coffee Talk title “Living in a Time of Fear,” has had me reflecting daily through a spiritual practice called Lectio Divina, where Scripture and meditation are used to connect with God.
At first the word that jumped out and wouldn’t let me go was the word “fear.” Eventually, and louder came forward the word “living” and finally the word “time.”
Many of us experienced fear in our daily lives even before Covid-19. Our society has cultivated fear for others using skin color, faith practice, gender identity, sexual identity and more. Fear reduces our ability to think for ourselves and is an effective way to create solidarity against our neighbors. This use of fear goes against he Christian Gospel and all spiritual practices that I know.
As people on spiritual paths, we must hear what fear has to say and then discern if it is true, really true, and determine how we will live. Fear can be a member of the committee in our hearts, or heads ,that advises us but we cannot allow fear to have control of the whole committee that determines how we will live. This is the second word that jumped out in meditation. LIVE or more active ‘living’ that is “Living in a time of fear.”
We are to be living. It is a deeply spiritual practice to choose how we will live. This is our life. We are experiencing Covid’s destruction as well as the the death throes of White Supremacy, and Christian dominionists. We are alive and meant to be living intentionally. And here is a critical part — WE. In the Christian Scripture when English speakers read, “You are the light to the world.” Or “Blessed are you…,” too many hear that “you” as singular. Many other languages, including the original language of our sacred texts are clear that the you is plural not singular. WE are meant to be living for and with one another. The golden rule that crosses all the spiritual practices is that we treat others the way we want to be treated. We are to be living concerned for the wellbeing of everyone because — as odd as it may seem — we are each part of the everyone.
What is more, when we are LIVING in a time of fear we are participating in a deeply spiritual practice where we open ourselves to change our beliefs about ourselves, others, and even the divine. By being alive in this life with even simple practices of acting for the good of all — wearing a mask, paying our taxes, or leading a march or challenging our leaders through letters and phone calls — are for the good of others and are ingredients in making even this seemingly disastrous time into a life well lived.
Back to this title “Living in a Time of Fear.” The third word that needed reflection was ‘time.’
There are those who will say time is an illusion. However, my experience of living in a moral body and watching others living through their mortal experiences would argue that time is very real and very limited. It is a comfort and a challenge. It is a comfort to know this time will pass and it is a challenge to us to determine how we will be alive in the time that we have.
The famous Methodist, John Weasley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
So, if you imagine that there is an advisory committee for your singular life, say in your heart, let Fear be a member of your advisory committee with an equal seat at the table with Compassion, Justice, and Humility and whom ever else you want to invite to help determine how you will use this Time to LIVE by actively, mindful doing for others that which we would want for ourselves.
Heywood as a panelist at the Oct. 3 Coffee Talk.
Rev. Gen Heywood has been active in parish ministry for more than 30 years. From small towns to big cities, she always lets the needs of the community and the congregation be her guide. Gen credits the supportive leadership of Veradale United Church of Christ for including her work to overcome racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation as part of her ministry. “Veradale UCC is a small church with a powerful faith. They are the reason I can be a witness for a world where we do justice, live with compassion and walk humbly with the Divine.” Gen grew up in rural Maine. She received a B.A. in Music Therapy and German from Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts, and her M.Div. from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts. She is a lifelong learner who lives in Spokane Valley, Washington, with her three dogs, as well as, sometimes, with her amazing young adult children.