The issue of June-August was planned long ago but it has turned out to be relevant to the current public health crisis. The editorial is included below, and you can see the table of contents.
Reading the signs of the times – that is a challenge that seems more important, and perhaps more difficult now than ever before in our lifetimes.
There is no shortage of voices telling us how we could interpret what is going on around us.
Some seem very certain that they know definite answers to an astonishing array of questions of geopolitics, epidemiology and public health policy.
Others seem satisfied to accept the ‘official’ explanations, even when this means accepting twists and turns in policy that go without comment.
I have a friend who has stopped signing off his messages with ‘stay safe!’ and instead writes ‘stay awake!’
I was inspired by an essay by Charles Eisenstein*, which I read early on in the crisis. There, he describes a path of honesty with himself about what he does not know, as well as what he does know. Whatever information comes towards us, we can attend to our own process of knowing, examining what might lead us to decide that something is true and something else is not. We can also be proactive in informing ourselves about the world. After we have engaged intensely with whatever news or information sources we are interested in, we can let the detail fade away and attend to our inner state.
In the quietness that grows in our soul, we may grow attuned to thoughts that do not originate in ourselves but in the spiritual beings who care for the world. We can imagine the spirit of the age, that being whose consciousness extends beyond individuals and groupings of people to the whole of this ‘present generation’ – as Jesus describes it in the gospels. Might he be able to work particularly strongly in a time when humanity is united in the same concerns? Beyond that level of consciousness, we can divine the working of minds that embrace the whole planet in its evolving. As the problems that led to this crisis go beyond the human to the planetary, we might imagine that the spirit of the age, a being of the Third Hierarchy, is working together with beings of the Second Hierarchy, whose field is the created world itself. This thought by itself can be a source of comfort and strength: our concerns are shared with benevolent beings far greater than ourselves.
A great theologian once observed that if prayer is a conversation, we may find that it works better if we listen more than we speak, just like in every other conversation. Creating a space where our thoughts and the many thoughts of other human beings can fade away can create the quiet in which we can listen. There we can divine – not as dogmatic, fixed ideas, but as thoughts that lead us to further questions – how the spiritual beings that accompany our destinies and those of our world behold the crises and challenges that we face: not perhaps as aberrations or mistakes, but as opportunities for learning and growing. Then we may find that we the way we behold world events is subtly transformed. We start to see opportunities for growth and transformation even in developments that seemed the most worrying to us.
– Tom Ravetz
From the contents
The sources of inner quiet
How can people die ‘before their time’?
James H. Hindes
This, then, is how you should pray
Meditation and prayer—Starting from nothing
The fate of the earth
Peter van Breda
Counterpoint—an inner journey through the festivals II
Lars Åke Karlsson
I am the Light of the World
Christ in the middle – A contemplation on the ‘Hundred Guilder Print’ by Rembrandt
The Plague – an existential novel; an existential experience