I get how tiring just being in the world is right now, particularly for those who feel deeply--how can you not pick up on what people throw out in the world, emotionally or energetically, even when it is not intentionally meant to cause extra distress? I think the undercurrent of fear and anxiety permeates everything, just like another form of virus--it seeps into ads that pop up, saturates social media and news, and just worms its way into the subconscious by the changes needed in how we encounter the world. The changes that are required because people can get sick and die--so that is always present in the steps we are now obligated to use before, after, and during any possibility of encounter with the world. Just having to think like that is an extraordinary weight, and for Friends, whose witness to the world rides on the tenet of ‘love one another’, this layer of safety creates a barrier to dispelling the notion of ‘other’ which created separation in normal times. Now the separation is critical due to health concerns, but it carries the tag of suspicion and distrust. Those qualities are not a natural byproduct of a life lived in love and faith, and to have to use them to enforce another degree of protective distance is not comfortable. So, hearing the news of spreading disease and growing number of deaths is sorrowful and worrying; knowing about or experiencing so much detrimental impact regarding income is a concern; being separated from loved ones is sad and scary; feeling powerless is oppressive; and coping with all of this is exhausting. So what gives us any reason to even want to crawl out of a daily pit of frustration? It wouldn’t be an issue if we didn’t care, at least a little, about the concerns of others—“answering that of God in everyone” after all. What we do, and how we do it, every day, is a witness to our purpose. We are a people called to be in community, in all the different ways that can manifest, and now may be a time to reflect on how connection with others is part of how we use our fear and concern to fund a response in all integrity. Some find peace in the enforced isolation, and gain a strengthening in being able to renew before they reach out; some seek out contact through social media, and engage in busy exchanges which feed a need for interaction, and all of us, ready or not, are having to look at the reality of our relationships. The relevance of authentic connection is right up in our face—to be faithful is to not look away, but be able, as Margaret Fell said, to “come to the light to be proved, and tried whether your works be wrought in God”. This willingness to put before God how we establish and maintain relationships and what that has to do with being faithful is a necessary step in tending to our spiritual condition. Inviting God into our interactions by keeping that sense of love in our language and intention fosters an awareness of the beloved community as being viable and attainable. We have an opportunity to ‘renew a right spirit within us’, as we approach our relationships with a ‘clean heart’ and make our connections worthy of the walk to which we are called. Words matter, follow through matters, choices matter—there is no one who doesn’t count as a human being created in the image of God.
Of course we are tired—know it, and persevere. Love calls us.