Some great connections...
Monday, August 11, 2008
We are all addicts, as I learned many years ago from a book by Gerald May called Addiction and Grace, and our addictions are to things that we least suspect. Many of us – especially those of us in this place peculiarly named the "First World" – are addicted to certain ideas about what a 'normal' life is: that it is wrapped up in electricity, clean tap water, a roof over our heads, enough food to eat, and weather and ground underfoot that are not treacherous and wont to betray us from minute to minute. As a consequence, if and when our regular fixes aren't there, we are catapulted into trauma and dysfunction. We trample each other underfoot if there's a sudden fire. We refuse to move out of our houses when there's an ice storm, even when the authorities tell us that energy and heat are not likely to be restored for days. We stay put in out seaside homes though the radio advises that storm surge is likely to plunge them under water. We don't go into withdrawal - we go into denial, often doing ourselves permanent, even mortal harm. Those of us who come from places where earthquake and hurricane or typhoon come with fair regularity are maybe a little less addicted in some respects, but none of us are truly free of these (quite unwarranted) expectations. All that having been said, this isn't a warning about Armageddon or unexpected assailants (from inner or outer space) or debilitating plague-like viruses or the collapse of economic systems. All of those are possible – nay, if you listen too closely to the news, shortly to be upon us – and, happily, there are websites that can be consulted which offer sensible practical advice for being prepared: have a windup radio and flashlight, a tent, some money, a supply of food and drinking water, a bottle of bleach, a box of salt and lots of clean cotton cloth (my additions, these three last), etc., etc. Go take a CPR class. So what is this post about? Cultivating, because it will stand us in permanent good stead, attitudes and behaviours that will see us through disaster. Looking out, first of all, not just for our families and loved ones, but for folks generally, especially those that are most vulnerable, the old, the sick and little children, for they are likely to be helpful in ways you least expect – small children can get through tiny spaces; sick people know about disease, and healing; old people have the store of skills and knowledge that comes of being old. Sharing – information, goods, encouragement. Treating one another with the utmost consideration. Controlling our tempers. Stopping an extra minute or five minutes or ten minutes to really let something, good or bad, sink in. We all know the drill. We've heard it countless times. The thing is that we need to realize that, when there is catastrophe, this is the only thing that will get us through it, and, by the grace of God, past it. If we behave well, we'll survive. If not, we can look forward to a planet emptying itself of people the way a mangy dog sheds hair.