A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Transcript of talk presented on 4/19/20
for the Unitarian Universalist Gathering of South County via Zoom
Think back to where you were in your life last year at this time.
Can you remember what was going on for you?
Do you remember what you were worried about or what was driving you crazy?
Some years ago I was in a band and at times this drove me crazy. Some nights my drummer’s tempo’s would be all over the place, or my wife, who was the bass player, would play a wrong note and I’d give her, what she described as “the LOOK”- no it wasn’t that, “darling I love you” look. Bob, the other guitar player would take too long tuning between a song.
Or maybe the place we were playing was too smoky or there were too many people or not enough of them or the wrong kind.
Anyway, that band stayed together over 8 years and it became quite successful - we worked hard ironing out the kinks (and playing them as well) and we had a lot of fun. But by the beginning of our 8th year we collectively decided that it would be our last year- we were getting older and it was harder to do the late hours and all that went with it. We had dates throughout the year and we would play each of these and then say goodbye to the audiences we’d grown to love.
That last year was such a gift because I recognized that it was coming to an end & that I would no longer be playing music with these people I’d come to love. I have to tell you, each of those gigs became special to me. Many a night I’d look at my bandmates as I played and try to drink them in-to remember their smiles. I’d mentally say to myself, “REMEMBER” – Amazingly this thing, this band, that had once been a source of annoyance was now something I loved and was proud of.
During the later years of that band I’d also become a hospice volunteer.
My last year with the band and how I approached it was very much informed by my experiences with hospice.
Having spent time with people as they approached the end of their life, I saw that some people seemed to be really good at it. Some had a sense of peace or contentment and fulfillment, that their life has had purpose and meaning.
As they faced death life took on a depth in the simplest of things.
I saw the awareness that they had with things like a smile, or the sunlight in the morning, a phone call from an old friend. Priorities shifted and changed. What mattered became clearer to them.
Mr. Rogers said, “Life is deep and simple, and what our society gives us is shallow and complicated.”
Many of these hospice patients had come to know personally the depth Mr. Rogers had spoken about in the simplest of things.
They became aware in a way that most of us usually are not. Most of us are too busy rushing through life trying to get to the next thing as we fend off the current thing!
But NOW here we all are the middle of a Pandemic-so much has changed in the blink of an eye.
Somethings about this pandemic drive us crazy and somethings scare us half to death!
And now we’re the ones who have been stopped in our tracks-
not unlike so many of the hospice patients I’ve met-
Now we’re the ones not able to do all the things we’d once been able to do without having to give the slightest thought to it: Now we can’t go to the movies,
Now we can’t go out to dinner or get together with friends.
Some of us might even be longing for those awful office parties.
We’re being brought to this new place. Not willingly, but the same was true for the hospice patients I was fortunate enough to meet.
And perhaps the same sort of transformation is possible.
Now the question is what will do with this?
Can we change? Will we?
In the Chinese language the symbol for crisis is also the symbol for opportunity.
Both are present right here and now.
Metamorphosis is the process of one thing becoming something else. The caterpillar dies to being that caterpillar to emerge as the butterfly. BUT before this can happen the caterpillar’s body decomposes into a jelly like goop and then begins to reassemble, cell by cell, into this remarkable creature. Once having been earth bound this new creature gets to fly!
Might this happen for humanity? I believe it is very possible.
But like all change, for it to happen it will happen one person at a time, so it is up to you and to me.
Sometimes we have no choice about the things that happen -hard things, bad and tragic things do happen, no one is immune.
Where we do have choice is in how we respond.
A Pause button has been hit. We are in what is called “Liminal Space”- transitionary space between what was and what will be. This is Sacred space because it is where the Holy present moment is.
It is often also a scary place because we feel so much of what we’d known or thought to be true is in question – we are in unchartered territory here- at the edge of our experiences.
But it is at the edge of things that great discoveries are made.
We’re being called - all of us. How will we respond?
With a new perspective?
Think back just a month ago, knowing what you do know now. Would going to the store or stopping for a drink or a cup of coffee, or giving an old friend you ran into a hug be different for you?
Before all of this, what used to annoy you?
What did you take for granted?
What did you assume was a given?
How does it all look to you now? Has your perspective changed?
I hope so. It will be in these shifts in perspective that the change will be born.
Of course birth is no easy matter but neither is life.
It’s not in THE EASY things that greatness comes.