by Associate Minister Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig.
Tomorrow will mark the end of this most unusual and divisive election season. One way or another, we, the people, will make our voices heard at the voting booth. (And I hope all who are able will vote, if you haven’t already!) The choices we have collectively made will be known. We will move on, one way or another. There will be opportunities for healing and reconciliation: I hope to see many of you at the interfaith Post-Election Call to Healing on Wednesday night.
But, for now, we are sitting in the space of not-knowing, not-yet-clear. If you’re like me, the uncertainty and intensity of this campaign season may trigger a lot of anxiety and fear – for the future of our country, for the values we care about and maybe even for our personal safety. In such a time, how can we lean on our faith practices to stay clear and grounded? If you have a spiritual practice, like meditation or prayer, dancing or writing, jogging or talking with friends who care, may I suggest that today and tomorrow are really good days to practice? Whatever helps you breathe more deeply, whatever helps you meet the world with calm awareness. Whatever helps you love more. Do that.
And if you are looking for a practice to try, let me tell you about one that has helped me in moments of great anxiety and difficulty.
Once, I was going through a very painful time. I felt overwhelmed by worry, anxiety and distress about the situation I was in. Then, one day, as I sat in meditation, an image came to me. I remembered a Baroque painting I had seen once (or maybe I only imagined it?), of a person lying in bed, gravely ill, while another figure bent over them in deep concern and distress. The room was dark, lit only by a single candle. The image of this painting came to me, and at first I saw only this scene. But then, in my imagination, it was as if the camera zoomed out to reveal beautiful winged angels hovering all around. It doesn’t matter if you believe in angels or not – in that imagined moment they were there to embody energies of tremendous care and love that had been surrounding the figures in the painting all the time, though I had not been able to see them before. A bigger picture was emerging – much more than I had known was there. And then the camera zoomed out still further, to reveal a beautiful golden light surrounding the entire scene, a wordless, indescribable energy of goodness, beauty and hope. That beautiful light encompassed and held the scene of sorrow and suffering in a way that brought me great comfort.
Many times since then, I have recalled that image of being surrounded by love and hope even when life seems darkest. The practice I offer you is simply this: When you are in the grip of anxiety, distress and pain, can you practice “zooming out” to reconnect with all that supports you and gives you hope? When you feel like you are the one sitting in that dark and shadowed corner, can you remember and bring to mind the love and care, hope and beauty that have graced your life? People who love you, the beautiful autumn trees, a warm sweater, a kind word, an unexpected lift of the heart … all these gifts and so many more. Can you remember that countless sources of comfort are present all around you, even now? Lift your eyes from the focus of your anxiety and let yourself receive the light of these good gifts. May you be strengthened and renewed, today and tomorrow and always, no matter what.