A Word to the Spiritual Seekers: We have lessons to learn

Don Murray webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on January 6, 2017

TRURO, N.S. – The ornaments and lights of the Christmas tree have been carefully removed and stowed away, awaiting another year for their time of glory.

The tree, having provided its beauty and fragrance, now lies forlorn and lonely, beside the road awaiting pickup. The longest night has come and gone. We have recovered from our New Year’s revelry. Daughter Deborah, unable to be with us, spoke of the magical Christmases of past years.

And, indeed, it is a magical time. Not all, for sundry reasons, can fully enter into the spirit of the season, but it has surrounded us and engulfed our communities in joyous singing and celebrations to lift our hearts for the long, cold nights ahead. 

The New Year is only a few days upon its journey, but sufficient time for sober reality to kick in as we contemplate the year ahead. Hopefully we have made personal resolutions and plans that give us purpose and energy as each new day dawns. Life never stands still, and surely we grow in mind and spirit as we meet the wonders and vicissitudes that life brings. 

However, life is never only a personal matter. We belong to this family of humanity at many levels: from family, to work, to community, to country, to world and to the earth itself. We are citizens of the global village and must learn to get along with one anther and care for our common home, the earth.

“Ay, there’s the rub!” As we look over the political scene we see a wave of the radical-right sweeping over the Western world; me and my country, my political party, my religion, my whatever else, and who cares about everyone else. 

Our immediate fear is our neighbour to the south, with Donald Trump becoming president in a few days. What will the year bring? Some key elections are coming in Europe. Britain and Italy have already chosen the self-centred way. Will France and Germany be next? What if Angela Merkel is defeated? Who then would carry the political wisdom and moral authority of the West? We could be entering a modern day political Dark Ages.

Does that seem too grim? We need reminding that in most other ways we are making remarkable progress. World health and longevity is improving, absolute poverty is declining rapidly. Democracy is increasing, and, believe it or not, there are fewer wars. Will we be sabotaged by politics? Good governance is essential to the peace and progress of humanity. We are facing a challenge. And we have faced challenges before.

To meet this one could mean going more deeply into ourselves. We will need that inner strength and resourcefulness to be the kind of people who can meet the need to live among the people of the world with tolerance and understanding. We have lessons to learn. Most people reading this belong to the prosperous of the world. It is easy to forget that if things are not going well for you, and you feel that no one hears or understands, your vision will be narrow and view short. If someone promises to make it right, they have your vote.

We live in a strange time. Never in history have people had the material wealth and technology that we possess. Yet in the West we are largely spiritually bereft. The old verities of faith that have nourished people for generations have died for many. Some are exploring various spiritualities in search of their spiritual longing. Others are still sustained by traditional religious beliefs. 

Leonard Cohen’s last word to us was, “You Want It Darker.” His message is, if you don’t pay attention to the essential driving forces of life, sexuality, spirituality, power, and well-being, the darker it will be. We have failed the spirituality test; but many are working on it. We need to touch that deep essence of life that roots us in the earth, touches the eternal, and gives a profound meaning to our lives beyond material wealth and personal happiness. 

We need to know ourselves as players in the game of the universe, however, we can best understand that awesome mystery.

“The goal may ever stand afar, the will to win it makes us free.”

Happy New Year.