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It happened on an overcast March morning, usual in every respect, save reports of some infectious disease, distant from us. Not our concern, we said, getting the kids readied for school and shoving off to work. Little did we suspect…

 

Like the galloping invasion of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, pestilence, war, famine, and death have trounced our land and drastically altered our usual manner of functioning. At first, denial and rationalization softened the blow until weeks mushroomed into months, with rising numbers of those infected and dying from Covid-19.

As if the pandemic was not enough—Like a flashpoint, the George Floyd killing ignited demonstrations for police reform, both peaceful and violent, morphing into deeper mayhem, confusion, and polarization of our country. Meanwhile, exhaustion seeps into psyches, waters down problem solving, and thins endurance—A deadly scenario that cries for radical change, one found in the Gospels.

In my perception, the will to embrace the radical change that Jesus taught appears thin. Few care about cultivating humility, honesty, and love; it’s too costly—Easier to resolve problems with compromise.

Only such change of heart will bring about the longed-for restoration of our country that may or may not come in our lifetime. Besides, the work of the Four Horsemen is not finished—evil, far worse than the virus, still has us in its sway.

So what to do in the interim? From parched hearts, we pray for deep watering, one that cleanses and restores, despite the continuing tumult crashing around us. Protection does comes.

 

 

Planet Earth hisses with unquenchable fires of greed, rage, pride, lust, gluttony, envy, and sloth. I know, having experienced all of them, the eruption of instincts gone wild. Seldom is there enough. Needs for more pleasuring, more status, and more security eviscerate spirits, jaded and empty like back alley dumpsters. Whatever is trending at the moment catches excitement and maxed-out credit cards.

Such excesses compel hospital chains to construct still more facilities to accommodate technological advances, to woo the sickly with promises of health, to strip insurance plans of substance. Strapped upon Procrustean beds, the numbers must look right.

Such excesses impoverish families of basic necessities, over stimulate sensory receptors that frustrate learning, enervate intimacy, and obliterate traces of uniqueness. Sleep deprived, robot-like trudging from sunup to sundown, body breakdown accelerates aging and leers at change.

Such excesses drain leaders of courage, compel them to adhere to the tried and true, and compose windy legislation that serves no one. On all levels, violence continues eroding the ground we stand upon.

Such excesses have even besmirched church sanctuaries run like corporations to stay afloat, hobbled aging pastors of zest and watered down their homilies—Their sole purpose, to retire when permitted by their bishops or boards.

No wonder that Covid-19 threatens Planet Earth with its sputtering half-life, with its feverish weather cycles. Certainly, we’ve never seen the like. Lest overwhelmed, I resort to my inner world and sink within silence. Therein likes the antidote to this global Bedlam: the purifying flame of Spirit.

With the Psalmist we pray: Send forth thy spirit…and renew the face of the earth. Let the refining fire begin with our willingness to change. We’re not alone.

At 3:15 a.m., I awoke with this dream:

It is summer, a Sunday afternoon. I’m excited. With a friend, I drive out to Glen Echo Country Club in Normandy, Missouri. It’s been decades since I was last there. I look forward to swimming in the blue and white tile pool surround by towering oaks, manicured lawns. We pull into the empty parking lot and hurry around to the back of the clubhouse. Then, stop in our tracks, appalled. Where the pool was now gapes a monstrous hole, filled with fetid waters that belch, then spew streams high into the air. No one is around.

 This corrective dream reveals old issues, all Step-worked but still entrenched within my psyche: entitlement and expectations and bogus watering holes.

Glen Echo Country Club, still an elite setting for golf, dining, weddings and receptions were even more so when I was growing up. Dad’s membership afforded me summers lounging around the pool, in pursuit of the impeccable coat of tan, despite fair skin. Within this setting staffed by waiters and maids, I lapped up entitlement as everyone else did. Only when I joined AA did I see its prominence among the many faces of pride. In no way could I be in relationships, even with Higher Power. So puffed up, I was playing god—and, at times, I still am…

And expectations—in the dream, I expected the swimming pool to be unchanged from the time I had known it, there being no need to check it out. Excitement, another red flag, skewed my judgment. Only in recovery did I unmask this disorder, another manifestation of pride/control, still alive and flourishing in my shadowy depths.

And the bogus watering holes—In the dream, fetid waters gave me considerable pause, its filth evoking shudders, its secretiveness horrifying. Despite decades of honing discernment skills, I can still be hoodwinked by evil within gossamer disguises, or so the dream suggests, by my trip to Glen Echo. I had no business there. Only Higher Power can cleanse such lifelong disorders within my psyche.

With the Psalmist, I plead, Create, O God, a clean heart within me. (51:10).

 

 

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