I am not a pandemic expert by any stretch. I don’t ever want to be one. I do know something about panic and fear (by the way, I am not making critical statements here at all–trust me–just saying). In our brain, when we feel threatened, attacked, or helpless, something automatically kicks in. It is how we are made, not evil. It just is. A very powerful chemical, cortisol is released that shuts down our frontal cortex (where we are reasonable) and kicks in our fight, flight and freeze response mechanisms. It is all about survival. Again, not evil. It is very human. If this is chronic, like in times such as ours, when 24/7 we are bombarded with news of more and more danger and threats to our well-being and our families well-being, we get deluged with cortisol and we tend to panic. Me too.
So what to do? First of all, I applaud any and all efforts to get us through this. Let’s definitely do that. Second, let’s remind ourselves of some good stuff. Not denial. But good stuff that could diminish panic just a little bit. That would be very noticeable. My suggestion is that if you are encouraged by this, read it over and over a number of times to drip, drip, drip it into deeper parts of your brain submerged in cortisol (again, no judgement).
I am right now–with all of the free time I have currently–working on a parallel path to the Forgiving Path that we created 7 years ago. We are calling it “The Dance”. This refers to the Ancient Greek Fathers (4th ct.) metaphor for the Trinity. They were trying to imagine how the Father, Son and Spirit act and move inwardly and outside of themselves. The image they landed on is the Perichoresis–literally the “Dance Around”. We are using this image to help people get through shame and loneliness. More to come.
Listen to one theologian, Jonathan Marlowe. “The theologians in the early church tried to describe this wonderful reality that we call Trinity. If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . It’s called perichoresis. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance. The early church fathers and mothers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about. The perichoresis is the dance of love.”
So what does that mean to you and me in a pandemic? Well, simply put, if you are a child of God and the Spirit dwells within your inner being (Eph 3), then right now, in some mysterious crazy way, you are right square in the middle of that very dance. You may or may not be feeling it. For sure, Cortisol is not helping. But I can say with perfect confidence that the most important thing about you is not the pandemic–or the fear–or the feeling of confusion or helplessness, or sadness. It is this dance.
How can you experience it more? First, you will not perfectly experience it until Heaven. But, the Spirit inside your inner being is experiencing it in all of its glory and joy. You can ask that very same Spirit to make you get it more today. That’s what I am doing. It is helping a little bit.
Let me know how that goes for you. You could be an encouragement to others.
Dr. Bill Senyard