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Faith: you know you’re gonna live thru the rain
Lord you got to keep the faith
Faith: don’t let your love turn to hate
Right now we got to
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Keep the faith
Lord we got to keep the faith

Bon Jovi, Keep the Faith

Our days are approaching the surreal. Do we all now exist within a screenplay written to maximize the emotional intensity for some unseen viewer? Events have cascaded into the absurd as we move from pandemic to social upheaval. In a matter of days, our landscape has changed again, promising to overwhelm our senses. The sheer volume of inputs renders clarity nearly impossible as they collide into a rising cacophony; the noise punctuated in the burning exclamation points we see dancing across our screens. Reality television has taken on new meaning.

We are living in the Grand Spectacle: all of us moving within our individual dramas while momentous events collide across the big stage. We feel caught in the great sweep of history unfolding before our eyes. Pick out any random post, video, or soundbite and one is left with a sense of senselessness. What the hell is going on?

Powder-keg

Are we surprised? After 90 days of lockdowns, our country is an emotional powder-keg. Raw from isolation and the uncertainties of our health and economic safety, we are all on edge. Millions out of work. Millions hyper-focused on all forms of media. Millions feeling vulnerable from an incredibly bizarre 2020. Millions arguing over everything from politics to masks. Explosive.

These are momentous days. However, it is a mistake to think they are unique. New to us perhaps, but our country has been moving through similar sweeps of time from its inception. Our existence as a nation for the last 244 years has been a lurching, never-smooth, process of progress and setback. History continues to remind us that our predecessors faced similar challenges. We continue to feel that we should be past the pressure points but that is not how the game works.

Pandemic? Others have helped us understand how the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 mirrors COVID-19. Civil unrest? The days ahead will be spent revisiting the civil rights movement spanning the mid 50’s to late 60’s. Vulnerability? Many of us remember 9/11 and the sense of insecurity we felt in the days and months after those brutal attacks. Economic challenges? The financial crisis of 2008 is a recent version of similar challenges hitting us in nearly every decade since our country was founded. Yes, it has always been a grand spectacle.

Best and Worst

As in other times, our current challenges bring forth the best and the worst we have to offer as individuals and as a nation. Scroll through social media and it’s all on display: rants, prayers, bad behavior, good behavior, saints, sinners, hope, and despair. Waking up yesterday, I realized that I had to disconnect for the day as it all was starting to feel so miserably oppressive. Spend even a few minutes in the dark waves crashing on our emotional shores and it is nearly impossible not to feel like our world is imploding.

Today, I awoke at 3am to my grandson nestled up against me, sleeping soundly and oblivious to any of the drama weighing on the rest of us. I smiled as I was reminded of what really matters. My circle of concern quickly shrunk to my immediate circle of influence. If you need a reminder, look for the angelic serenity of a 3 year old sleeping safely and securely.

Keep the faith. This great experiment of ours has survived many tests. The days in which we live are a testament to that. The tragedies and the triumphs are all part of our Grand Spectacle. All is not lost. We will find a way. The dark days in which we find ourselves will yield to the brighter ones around the corner. There is so much good all around us. There is so much good within us.

Still Worth It

The way forward? Show up. Today. Get back at it. Plot your way forward. Don’t get derailed in the momentous sweep. Don’t give-in to the doubt, the fear, the anger, or the noise. Focus. Focus on what matters. Focus on what you can do. Focus on what’s in front of you. Focus on taking the next step. Then, hope. Feed yourself and others with it. Hope for today. Hope for tomorrow. Hope for next year.

If hope seems too far, take the small steps and focus on the things to be hopeful for: those you love, the dreams still playing through your mind, the beauty and goodness that is all around you if you take a moment to see it, and the possibility that is our great nation. The light still burns. You will have to work for it – hope is an action verb and requires intention. Then, actively keep the faith: in yourself, in those you love, in those pressing forward alongside you, and in your country. For all its imperfections, it’s still worth it.

Showing 4 comments
  • Shari Frank
    Reply

    Once again Phil, you hit the nail on the head!

  • rebecca seifert
    Reply

    thanks Phil for the great read…I shared it on FB…something to always keep in mind, especially during these times.

  • Trish Berry
    Reply

    Some positive reinforcement, yay!!

  • Jerry Berry
    Reply

    Great reflections, good timing. A lot of people are doing a lot of wondering, your clarity will help more than you can imagine, I’m sure.

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