The spiritual practice that I lean on more often than not is something simple. It’s going to youtube and finding some kind of orthodox chant and just playing it on in the background while I do whatever it is I do. Often I like having chant on while I write. I really don’t like English chant because I start to listen to the words. I don’t want to understand the words. I want them to just flow over me.
For me there is something beautiful in chant. It is just human voices singing praises to God. That’s all I need to know about them. They take me off to a distant place. The connect me with the divine. They sooth my soul and calm my spirit unlike anything else. They are healing.
And I find myself in need of these healing sounds more often than not. Because I’m going to get healing elsewhere. The world isn’t interested in healing. Our health care isn’t really health care – any care we receive only kicks in after someone gets sick. That’s not health care. That’s sick care.
I’m certainly not going to get healing from our politics and policies. The polarization of our nation is making the nation very sick. It is a virus that is running rampant – like a cancer that has metastasized throughout the body. our culture’s irrational attachment to political parties and politicians is unhealthy to the core producing anxiety for many, irrational fear, anger, and us/them situations.
I’m not going to get healing from entertainment, as much as I have tried. Most entertainment is mindless, but often very violent. I watch movies not for how they cause me to think and grow, but mostly to escape and turn my brain off. There are better things I could be doing.
I’m not going to get healing from many places in our society. It’s just not set up to be healing. Our work is often more about what we produce than anything else. Our very value comes only in what we produce. Pharaoh would be proud of how we willingly make more bricks without straw and don’t complain about it either. We expect that our value is based on production.
I think it’s important for us to acknowledge a few things. I don’t expect society as a whole, or many other people to actually do this. So maybe this is just a “me” exercise. Here’s what I acknowledge:
- That we are in an extended traumatic situation with no end in sight. This has had an impact on every single person whether they want to admit it or not. It has brought the core of who people actually are deep down because the facade has been torn away. Our core beliefs are all that remain – the things that actually guide who we are and what we do and how we treat others. Traumatic events have a way to ripping away the false narratives we like to claim and show what we are really about.
- No one has a clue as to what to do. We all just stumble along trying to figure things about pretending that we know what we are doing because we think we’re the only ones who don’t know. No one does. That should actually be a relief.
- Things that we had faith in are showing just how empty they are and how we put faith in the wrong things. Whether it is some political party or ideology, a politician, a nation, the military, money, work, or any number of other things, they are all showing just how temporary they really are. If our faith is in these things, then I have to ask, why would we need God at all? But maybe that’s the point. Did we actually believe in God, or did we believe in the belief in God? The difference is between knowing about God and knowing God, saying the “right” things and living out costly faith.
The list could go on. I’m sure there are other things you could add that we should acknowledge. Acknowledging reality is a form of healing also. It’s an act of seeing clearly. Of no longer lying to oneself. Of stopping our personal spin about the world. Healing only comes when we are willing to live in reality. No different than a terminal patient who finally accepts their fate. They can make peace with it. They can finally be healed.
Healing is not the same as curing. Curing is often outside of our control. Healing though often comes by way of a decision.
Healing isn’t easy. Especially if there are deep wounds. I don’t know that I have fully healed from my time working in politics. It was such a central part of who I was. I went from politics being my identity to leaving it and hating it utterly. Then I was able to make some peace with it. But it has never fully been detached from me. I don’t know if such a thing is possible or desirable actually. Politics is in the world and so am I. My relationship with politics has changed over the decades to the point where now I don’t fit into the traditional spectrum of politics. And I prefer it that way. A political animal without a home, and not seeking one out either. Because my home is no longer in politics. It is with God – as best as I can figure.
My spiritual practice is listening to orthodox chant. It is like a cleansing of the soul. A release of anxiety and tension. A way to hear God. For me it is bringing order out of chaos. It often is the only sound that makes sense in the world, even though I can’t understand a single word that is being sung. And I’m grateful that there is this healing practice.