As I write this, the world is in a bit of a panic about COVID-19 — and understandably so. Much is unknown. Many will die.
Fear is huge right now because much of the world is a stranger to this degree of powerlessness. Nobody likes sudden, involuntary changes: being told to work or school their kids from home, to avoid contact with others. It’s tough. Disruptive. Confusing.
In times like these, it really sucks to have no higher power or faith in an afterlife. If we lack faith, we fight out of an amorphous, unrelenting fear. If we possess a working faith, we attend with care to each precaution, surrender what’s beyond our control, and trust that, though perhaps in ways beyond our understanding, all will be well.
For that matter, all may be better. Considered from a broad enough perspective, COVID-19 can be seen as a gift. This pandemic is teaching humanity, more vividly than anything heretofore, the crucial, overdue, and catastrophically-denied lesson that all of us share one planet. Humanity is, in fact, one big global community. National boundaries mean no more to this virus than they do to impacts of climate change. Both are everyone’s problem.
Surrender is simply saying, “What is, is. I have no power to change X, but I do have power to perform Y.” For instance, in the case of alcoholism, X is that we have it — a fact that won’t ever change. Y is our program of action: going to AA meetings, doing stepwork, and being of service to others.
A continuing counter-intuitive surrender for me is the fact that I’m a spiritually leaky bucket: No matter how many meetings I’ve gone to, how deeply I know the steps, or how much service I’ve offered in the past, my spiritual bucket gets empty again if I don’t continue filling it. My mind tells me, “Oh, I’m so smart now! See how my Big Book is read to tatters? I can stay sober on my own!” I certainly want to believe that. I certainly don’t want it to be my ticket to misery and an early death. But it would be. I need to believe what I want not to believe.
Surrender to the afterlife and spirit world has, weirdly enough, posed an even harder, more counter-intuitive challenge. I’ve had to say, “What is, is.” In this case, I mean both the reality of the spirit world and society’s disdain for it. I’ve experienced so many paranormal phenomena that I can no longer subscribe to the culturally dominant model of reality as exclusively material. That model stands in blatant contradiction to my Weird Things — direct experiences of seeing a ghost, prescience, clairvoyance, and communications/interventions from the dead and from my guardian angel.
I never wanted a Near Death Experience (NDE) any more than I wanted alcoholism. Following my NDE, I denied it as doggedly as I did alcoholism, clinging to my familiar materialism as much as I did to familiar drinking. I kept right on refusing to change when I saw a ghost, knew my nephew would die, and began to hear a voice that advised the opposite of what I, myself, had decided. Materialist science would lump all these together as delusions — my mind playing tricks on me. For decades, I simply shut away whatever materialism could not explain.
But there came a point when I could no longer hold out. I had to say, “What is, is! I have no power to change X — that I know the spirit world firsthand and that society dubs me a moron for saying so. I do, however, have power to perform Y — find others who share my truth.” Finding the sanctuary of IANDS, where everyone’s materialist schema has been pried from their equally reluctant intellectual grasp, has solidified my outlook.
What does all this have to do with COVID-19? Today, I volunteer for Seattle IANDS by interviewing NDErs and writing up their stories for our bi-monthly newsletter (print only, at this point). During the time they were dead, several interview subjects were shown, each through their own visual metaphor, that the spirit world is constantly working to guide humanity forward toward the light of universal love. Here are two interview excerpts:
“The largest light table was behind those two, a huge one with many saints around it. I couldn’t hear, but I knew they were talking about the planet – how to help it. More than any of the others, these saints had to allow. They were so serious because of all they were letting unfold.”
“I saw a city of diamond brightness. I knew the city contained highly advanced beings – angels and great souls [who] were building the future of humanity. I was given the revelation that… sometimes the intended purpose doesn’t unfold.”
Each seeks words to describe a hybrid of guidance and letting be. Both chose the word “unfold.” I’m reminded of the way we teach small children: we present them with a toy or a problem to solve that we think offers them an opportunity to learn; then we let them have at it.
God, according to countless NDErs, wants us to learn. Many were offered a choice to return and complete their learning in this life, or proceed unfinished to the next — but lose all they’d learned. “I viewed it much the same as having to repeat a grade in school,” says one who drowned river rafting.
When I put this whole picture together, I see a benevolent god calling some souls home while giving humanity at large a nudge to wake the fuck up. In the single month since COVID-19 went international, the entire world has radically changed its ways of daily life, ceasing to commute, flying less, and producing less stuff — with the cumulative global effect of slashing our CO2 output beyond anything ever dreamed possible.
Learn, god is urging us, that all is one! — humans, animals, plants, Gaia, and god.