Finding hope and direction in chaos

Once we spot divine presence it might look something like a sheepdog, bumping, guiding and protecting us as we stumble through life.

BY DAVID RICKEY — Back in 1963, Bob Dylan wrote “The Times They Are A Changin’,” and they were. The 60s were a time of chaos for those holding onto the old ways, and a time of hope for those seeking the new. Buddhists say that change is the nature of things, but change as we now see it (much like in the 60s) can be pretty disquieting.

As I write this, the so-called Middle East is in unprecedented turmoil with rebellion spreading like a contagion with no clear sense of where it will take us. Beyond that, the world’s economic structure is precarious at best. Every clarion of hope is countered by new reports of dire predictions. Even the weather has become cause for global concern with rampant flooding and extensive long-term drought.

One of my favorite hymns is “If Thou But Trust In God To Guide Thee,” but what does that mean in the context of 21st-Century confusion? If change is the nature of things, can we find God by embracing change? I believe we can if we alter our understanding of God and of ourselves.

Change leads the flock

First, we must abandon the idea of a distant God who is judgmental, looks down upon us with a disapproving scowl and demands us to “Repent!” Instead, if we embrace a divine essence that is woven into the very fabric of creation, into the laws that guide and nurture the evolution of life and possibility – and if we understand our very Self to be a physical expression of this divine essence – we can find a basis for real hope.

This relatively new understanding, promoted by spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle, and physicists like Bernard Haisch and John Polkinghorne, tells us that rather than being separate from God, we are indeed God, expressed in physical substance. Our purpose is to advance the evolution of consciousness by our actions. From this perspective, any change is part and parcel of why we are here.

Right this minute, divine essence is hard at work in two major ways:

The upheaval in the Middle East, for one, is an amazing confluence of human and technological evolution. People are rising up and claiming freedom in dramatic ways and, at the same time, the evolution of mass communication, via cell-phone, Internet, social media and television, has radically changed the environment in which this upheaval happens. Witness how the actions of dictators are both circumvented (young people circumventing attempts to stifle communication) and broadcast to a watching world. Truth is getting out despite attempted oppression.

On the other hand, the consequences of our past choices – personal and corporate greed and the disregard of our interdependence with nature – are coming back to us in karmic lessons. We are forced to think differently about who we are and what we do with and to each other and the planet.

On the surface, current events can seem bewildering and hopeless. But if we look beneath the surface, we’ll see the workings of divine intelligence nudging and nurturing us along in ways that can give us great hope, if only we embrace the process. In my own experience, this divine presence can look something like a sheepdog, bumping and circling, guiding, chastising and protecting me as I stumble through changes in my own life. This is the basis of my trust.

Feel the nudge, take the guidance

When all seems chaotic, I try to step back and realize there is an unseen process going on that is infinitely trustable: It is the reason behind the universe and me as a part of it. But I cannot be passive. In whatever situation I find myself, I am learning to ask the question, “What would Evolution do?”

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” Evolution directs us to envision a better future, then to be that future. By remembering that my purpose is to contribute to conscious evolution, I can move forward without concern about what happens to “me,” since I am only a part of this amazing process. I have the whole of divine wisdom backing me up, not to save me but to work through me.

That kind of courage is exactly what propels the protesters in Egypt and Libya, who know they are serving a larger and higher purpose. They are risking their own lives, not to be labeled Martyrs and receive some reward, but to witness (in the true, Greek sense of the word) a higher truth. Along the way, each of them will undoubtedly also find his or her own reason for being.

Times are again a changin,’ and we are being called upon to be that change. But we are not alone. We carry the wisdom and potential of the whole universe with us.

David Rickey is an Episcopal priest, Soul’s Code co-founder and counselor in San Francisco who does a weekly ministry at a residence for the elderly in northern California. Follow David on Twitter.

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