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Another Voice: Escape the world's chaos by creating a mental cave

By the Rev. Carol Marychild

What a time we are living in right now! Christmas, winter solstice, climate change catastrophe, the opioid crisis, looming world financial meltdown, partial U.S. government shutdown – merry Christmas and happy holidays!

I find it interesting and scary that all of this is happening right now, amidst secular Christmas songs like “White Christmas,” “Santa Baby,” etc. Softly in the background I hear Advent carols in minor keys: “In the Bleak Midwinter” and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” How do we hold all of this together? With a splitting headache?

Our continuing life on this planet is in severe danger. We are wreaking destruction on ourselves and the beautiful balance of animals and plants we share this earth with. Is all lost? Have we struck the death knell on all of our relations? Maybe.

As we read that loneliness and suicide are sharply increasing in our culture and the world, we look at the deep longing underneath the surface cheeriness and constant flight to social media and shopping. We live in an age of profound disconnection under the surface chatter. We have a deep need to be connected with something that cannot be bought, something larger than ourselves, something that can give meaning and purpose to our lives.

Here I want to offer an experience, not just an opinion. While I allude to Christian motifs, there is no need for any set of religious beliefs:

Let us enter the dark silence of the cave (Jesus may well have been born in a cave), where we can shed all the surface paraphernalia and enter back into our own infancy and vulnerability. Some soft music or a candle may help to ease the loneliness, the emptiness.

Close your eyes. Feel the support of the Earth from which you come, in which you live and breathe, to which you will return. Cross your arms and keep the reassuring embrace. You may like to imagine some loving person/presence holding you. Keep greeting your distracting ideas and your anxiety with, “This, too, shall pass.”

Allow yourself to enter into a deep peace, “the peace that passes all understanding.”

If you take everything slowly, you will emerge rooted, grounded, connected with something larger than yourself. Re-enter the world now with soft eyes and gentle ears, so that you may sense and connect with what is subtle and to many of us holy, in people and nature. Welcome into the New Creation that is emerging from the ashes of the old.

Keep coming back to the cave. It takes a lot of practice to maintain a little of this space within ourselves in our distracting world. This is our antidote to disconnection and loneliness in our unhealthy, disconnected world.

The Rev. Carol Marychild, Ph.D., is a Presbyterian minister and holistic psychotherapist in Cheektowaga.

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