I’ve been in rich conversations recently about how life has been changed by the pandemic. The question, “How am I doing?” is almost impossible to answer.
Much of the time, I feel so radically alive, and creative, gobsmacked by wonder walking around the farm and watching the winged whirlygig seeds on a Japanese maple preparing to take off.
At the same time, I sometimes feel a bleakness, a profound worry, as I think about how to stop the tide of evil showing up in the world. Some days, I feel like I’m watching a movie where the bad guys have the upper hand and are out to destroy everything.
The strange thing is that I can go from feeling a spiritual opening/creative aliveness to bleak despair within a period of a few hours!
One of my colleagues offered me the image of feeling like Tinker Bell, the feisty faerie from Peter Pan, whose light kept getting dimmer and dimmer.
In the musical, Peter, panicking, knows that the only thing that can save Tinkier Bell is the children of the world letting her know that they believe in faeries.
Peter turns to the audience and pleads, “Do you believe?”
In a famous line near the end of Peter Pan, Peter begs the audience, “Clap, if you believe in faeries. Clap and she’ll hear you. Don’t let Tink die!”
Of course, you know what happens. Tinker Bell hears the clapping and the light fills up the little faerie.
I feel that way with my friends. When one of our lights dims, its like a cry, “Help me believe that the good will prevail. Help me believe that there’s hope.”
Sometimes it takes others to help us remember that despite the darkness in the world, there is plenty of light.
We do that for each other.
We need to be clapping
Faeries are probably doing fine these days despite the pandemic–I’ve heard of no reported cases of faeries with Covid-19–but I’m worried for us humans. When do we step out from behind the masks of our self-absorption and reveal more of the good within our nature?
Let’s start clapping loudly for the good, kind, selfless, and noble. For compassion. For a commitment to truth. For bravery to speak up when another is at risk. For anything that uplifts and makes us proud to be human.
I’ve found myself crying at small signs of goodness, (It’s one way I clap.)
I cry when I watch a film showing Michelle Obama sharing wisdom with a group of inner-city children. I cry when I watch a video of John Lewis walking with President Obama, crossing the bridge where Lewis was beaten in Selma, Alabama, and hearing his words.
I cry when I hear a child with a stutter talk about how Joe Biden stopped to talk with him and gave him hope. I cry reading Fr. Gregory Boyle, of Homeboy Industries, describe working with gang members. I cry when I hear about people who’ve faced adversity and turned their lives around, or an ALS patient dedicates himself to helping others dying with ALS.
It seems strange that the smallest good deed sparks my tears. But I’m so hungry. Hungry to remember that which is good in others (and in faeries). Hungry to believe.
The dimming light today isn’t about Tinker Bell or faeries. The future is in peril, the US elections at risk, the environment hanging in the balance.
I know the embers of good, truth, and love are out there. I want to fan them into flames (no wildfires!) by giving them my attention. I want to be in the world looking for where I can clap.
I clap for stories that bring hope. I cry for moments when good breaks through darkness.
I’ll clap for my friends if their light starts to dim.
Clap if you believe
Peter asked us to believe.
Our inner light is precious. We can’t let it dim.
What gives you hope? What feeds your light? I’ll clap for that.
Maybe Peter Pan could offer us a new challenge:
“Do you believe in what is good, precious, and true in people and in life? Clap if you do.”
Then sit still for a moment and listen to the echoes coming back to you.