The temptation when reading Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, on creation and our common home–one of our principal guides today– is to see it as a series of political or economic or social recommendations. It’s deeper than that.
“Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it. (19)
Our present Covid crisis has created another range of personal and global suffering. We need to change the way we see things and do things. The danger is we lose the sense beauty and the good in life as we cover our faces and distance ourselves from the world around us..
I wish I could remember the name a book written years ago by a biologist pointing out the basic health and goodness of our life forms, from the smallest to the greatest. We live in a world where life thrives and not dies.
The mysticism of the Passion of Jesus offers a way to see our new painful situation as a way to life and not death. The Cross is always of tree that brings life;; a garden tomb offers the promise of new harvest. The mysticism of the Passion doesn’t end in suffering and death, but in life and resurrection.
Mystics usually see the connection of things. Are we being called to embrace a passion mysticism now?
I like Francis’ quotation of the Sufi spiritual writer Ali al-Khawas who “stresses that we not put too much distance between creatures of the world and the interior experience of God.” We have to see this present situation as part of the plan of God, a mystery of death and resurrection.
“Prejudice should not have us criticize those who seek ecstasy in music or poetry. There is a subtle mystery in each of the movements and sounds of this world. The initiate will capture what is being said when the wind blows, the trees sway, water flows, flies buzz, doors creak, birds sing, or in the sound of strings or flutes, the sighs of the sick, the groans of the afflicted…” (EVA DE VITRAY-MEYEROVITCH [ed.], Anthologie du soufisme, Paris 1978, 200).
As we put on face masks and practice social distancing, let’s not lose sight of the beauty of creation, a sign of God’s presence.