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“By all means, we’ve got to stay happy! Whatever we can do to keep it going …” she gushed as another chimed in with a joke about hand washing. This morning’s talk show hosts chuckled as they described neighborhoods putting up Christmas lights and chalking driveways and sidewalks with pastel hearts and flowers.

In my perception, such attitudes miss the mark. Many experts also tout keeping busy with on-line work from home, home schooling, home-improvement projects, and keeping track of the pandemic’s swath of global mayhem. In between times, social media assuages social loneliness and fills empty time. Netflix and television dull the urgency of the questions: When will we return to normal, however construed? Will things be different? Will I lose out? How will I manage?

Such busyness frays the fabric of the global community, already dangerously thin with violence and addictive behaviors.

Glaringly absent from this scenario are silence and prayer, and the fact of death, ours included—just relegated to numbers of the stricken on graft charts in states, distant from our own. Such shudders get lodged within stress.

So how quell this inner turmoil and enter the silence of prayer? How let it speak to the grievous circumstances in which we find ourselves? It’s only important to want it, deeply, and to begin. Within our depths, a dear Friend wants our hearts, however scarred.

Psalm 56:11, 13 speaks to such a relationship: …in God I put my trust, fearing nothing…for you have rescued me from Death to walk in the presence of God in the light of the living.

 

 

 

The portal of thin places, found in ancient Celtic spirituality, still speaks to the experience of prayer.

The Celts settled the British Isles in the early Bronze Age, about 1180 b.c., and brought with them imaginations teeming with myths, poetry, songs, and rituals that maintained communion with the Otherworld. Earth mounds marked entrances to this realm, but only the initiated could enter; others did so, at their peril. Heroes peopled these enclosures and became sources of inspiration, guidance, and courage for the Celts as they vanquished other warlike tribes and expanded their influence.

In the early fifth century a.d., however, the evangelization of Ireland began through the preaching of Bishop Palladius and St. Patrick. Except for the Otherworld, its “pagan” heroes, sacred wells and springs, portals, and landscapes were Christianized. To this day, the Otherworld is still accessed through the portal of thin places, permeable membranes to the Sacred; it alone separates us from the God of compassion.

Our times, like those of the Celts, call for extraordinary measures as planet Earth reels with sickness and enervates spirits. Powerless and humble, we await the interventions of the medical community, follow recommended protocols, and check developments online.

Through thin places, we also access our God who wants the eradication of this deadly virus more than we do, wants restitution of systems, so sorely disrupted.

As prayer-warriors, we can help.

 

Throughout my life, psychic eruptions have enveloped my senses within bliss, have demanded unheard-of changes, and have assuaged monstrous fears. Such turnarounds veiled their Source for decades, and puppet-like, I followed, not without experiencing its strangeness and the raised eyebrows of those around me. Still I knew better than to renege and walked away from religious and marital vows, cities, careers, and some friends. With the continuing support of my dreams and my Jungian analyst, I finally retired in 2001 to compose a story from the pieces of my life.

And such a story it is. Slowly, the shadowy outlines of the Source have evolved into fuller awareness: this same Source that is guiding my end time’s growth, one day at a time; this same Source with whom I long for communion that won’t withdraw within the pockets of my psyche. From them, nasty naysayers still harass me, still fling refuse upon my thoughts and choices, still frame my eighty-four year as failure.

But that no longer works—given decades of chronic illness and pain that’s rendered me with half-life and scraped me hollow. Within that same emptiness now flourishes fresh saplings yearning for light and moisture. Such nurturing continues with each day’s willingness to do the drill, no matter how long it takes. Although still homebound, my trips to the Source are unlimited.

Hope abounds.

 

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