Mystic Mondays (Birthday Delay!) October 17, 2016
I felt a great disturbance in the Force…as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. Obi-wan Kenobi in Star Wars
The other morning as I made that foggy transition from sleep into awareness I noticed that my whole body was shaking slightly. It wasn’t the first morning this had happened. In recent weeks it has shown up a handful of times. I recognized it. A few years before during a particularly fragile period of loss and transition I remember it being an almost daily occurrence for a number of weeks. This time, however, I was uncertain of the source and origin. I have a reasonable amount of security as I am just half way through an interim pastorate—meaning that I likely still have 12-18 months of secure employment and there are no major shifts with family and friends.
But I have to be honest. It really didn’t take me long to recognize the source. As a preacher and blogger I feel a certain level of responsibility to keep up on what people most care about. And in this particular season it happens to be the tone of politics, the boundaries of public debate, and the future of our country. I knew exactly what was going on—I was internalizing the anxiety that we as a people are feeling and now my body was sending the same message.
Therapists are telling us that they are seeing increased levels of anxiety, stress, anger, and helplessness in their clients. Recent disclosures about alleged sexual abuse is triggering PTSD symptoms among thousands (if not more) women around our country. In a recent survey 90% of those surveyed responded that this election was either causing them to be somewhat stressed or very stressed.
My body has been telling me, “I feel a great disturbance in the Force as if millions of voices are crying out…”
This really gives me a chance to share the deeper message of nurturing a mystical heart toward life. Often (and based on my prior posts) when we talk about mystical experiences we just focus on those experiences where we feel an intimate connection with the Sacred—experiences that we wish we could duplicate on a regular basis such as seeing God’s heart when looking at a sunset or recognizing the face of Christ in a moment of unparalleled kindness.
But mysticism isn’t just about the moments of ecstatic beauty and goodness. At its heart mysticism is about allowing our soul to feel the very pulse of Life and God. It’s about seeing the Reality under the reality. It’s about tying into the vein of life that runs much deeper than what our eyes can see and our ears can hear. It’s about trusting the wisdom and the truth of the soul—a reality that we often keep hidden or simply aren’t aware of.
If mysticism is about being so in touch with the heart beat of God that we can see God smile with delight, it also means that we can feel and tell when God’s body shudders. It means that we can tell when the Force that unites us and sustains us is suddenly disturbed like the surface of a glassy still pond suddenly broken by a thrown rock.
I am old enough that this is now my tenth presidential election that I have had the privilege to vote in. These elections have been and are hard. The debates can get contentious. Some elections have left me more concerned for our country than others. This democratic process is messy, not always fool proof and sometimes vulnerable to corruption, rigging, and manipulation. It is not and has not been a perfect system. But I have trusted it (even my candidate lost) to honor the deeper principles and spirit of democracy.
But never has my body made clear to me in those elections like it has in this one that “there is a great disturbance in the Force.” My nerves are shot. My body trembles. This feels less like democracy and more like war.
I am quite sure that what we are feeling is a great shudder by God. A disturbance in the Force. A rock violently thrown into a perfectly still sacred pond.
When we see God smiling we cannot help but to share the joy of that experience with others. And when we feel God shuddering we cannot help but to do what? What are called to do? How do we respond? How do we reassure God that we have it under control? How do we let God know that it will all be okay?