Keep calm! Don't panic! "A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness." (Isa. 35: 8) This has been true for more than three thousand years and it will always be true. Take a moment to observe how nature carries on right on - creation is on the move, all the time, geese swim, hippos roam, dolphins dance in the water. When I was recently praying one early morning in Auckland, sitting quietly by a lake, I noticed at a certain moment that I had company - I was suddenly surrounded by a nature sanctuary, a moment of goodness and presence. A pair of black swans had left the lake and come over to where I was sitting. They were joined quietly by white swans, a small flock of seagulls, two geese, and two pukekos, and together we simply were here. At a certain point the geese were starting to speak to each other and upon agreeing took off for the other side of the lake. Communication and holiness, in the here and now.
We can refrain from panic - we can choose to be listeners and followers. We can help ourselves and others by offering our life as a vessel of confidence and joy - and we can look at the world with compassion and mercy. Seth Godin shares in one of his blog posts: "Panic is a choice, and so is productive generosity."
God is our Life, always, and mortal sentiments have never been helpful in finding out what that means. You will see this when examining the word "panic". The word "panic" comes from "Pan", the mythological god of the wild. He has the hindquarters, legs and horns of a goat, like a faun or satyr. His ruthlessness in disturbing the peace of nymphs has triggered the reaction of "Pan-ic", and our word "panic" is today part of our vocabulary. It means an emotion that is animalistic, close to losing one's head and reacting without thinking. It is pure body talk.
Panic is an instinct, a fear-driven "fight or flight response" and we can assert out freedom from this drive by claiming our life in Spirit. "Panic" is what "life in matter" feels like - the pantheistic view of the world. Panic shows you what existence without order, compassion, or divine protection might be. What being without purpose or dignity feels like. Nothing more. It is a proposal and you can reject the proposal.
This mental stampede is not our thinking or feeling. The wisest and coolest people show us how to keep calm and not panic. The Bible has examples, the world's great religious traditions have examples, our own time has examples. Look for those. Spirituality and poise go hand in hand. Solutions come out of the calm and depth of intelligence - and the symbol for this might be a quiet study, the concentrated composure of an artist studio, it might be the order and precision in a laboratory or the prayerful focus in a convent. A home can be a sanctuary.
The Bible is embracing us with the assurance that God takes care of us and we can feel our oneness with God, every day, by being the best listeners we can be:
"Dear friend, guard clear thinking and common sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound."
(Proverbs 3: 21-26. The Message).
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.