New Normal

This week has felt quite strange. After months of staying within a five kilometer radius and only one person going to the shops, once a day, and all the other restrictions, the ground has shifted.

Do you get the feeling that we are all wanting the world to just go back to how things were before? There’s a reason for that. Let me quote from one of my favourite thinkers, Richard Rohr:

“Whenever we’re led out of normalcy into sacred, open space, it’s going to feel like suffering, because it is letting go of what we’re used to. This is always painful at some level. But part of us has to die if we are ever to grow larger. If we’re not willing to let go and die to our small false self, we won’t enter into any new or sacred space.”

Richard Rohr calls it the three boxes:

order > disorder > reorder.

He says ‘order’ doesn’t really know the full picture, but it thinks it does. The first box is where we begin. The second box is chaos or deconstruction, where we have thrown off the shackles and rules of the first box and have begun to question everything. The third box is where darkness and light coexist. Paradox is acceptable and we learn to live within the tension. No more black and white, wrong and right, us and them.

He says: “Death is a part of life and failure is a part of victory and imperfection is included in perfection. Opposites collide and unite, everything belongs. Once we learn to live in this third spacious place, neither fighting not fleeing reality, but holding the creative tension itself, we are in the spacious place of grace, out of which all newness comes.”

The thing is, most of us prefer the first box. It’s comfortable, everything is safe and we know what to expect. This is where we broke out as teenagers, remember that? The reality is, the first box is too small. The next truth that none of us want to hear, is there is no direct flight from box one to box three. We have to go through box number two. We see this pattern play out many times throughout our lives.

Covid-19 has thrown the whole world into the second box. Chaos, turmoil, what Zorba the Greek called ‘the full catastrophe.’ You may be too young for that one.

Victoria has finally reached low numbers, zero for a couple of days. Brilliant work. The rest of the world is hitting astronomical numbers, but we’re ok.

Side note: My husband and I do a lot of philosophizing over our morning coffee these days. The other day we were talking about the need to have a new national anthem. One more appropriate for our first Australians, one that doesn’t celebrate colonization and patriarchy and doesn’t use archaic language like ‘girt by sea.’ A few days later, looking at European Covid numbers, my husband said “There are some benefits to being ‘girt by sea.'” He makes me laugh.

Perhaps, like me, you have been tempted to jump back in the first box. Let’s all go back to how life was pre-Covid and pretend this never happened. Rush out and hug people and forget the masks. We’ve seen a lot of that lately.

Another response is to stay in the second box, in the chaos and paranoid isolation, regardless of the rest of Australia beginning to open up. Stay home and hide from the world.

A better choice is to move into the third box, re-order, to discover a new normal. One that embraces life as it really is. We are invited to walk into the sacred spacious places, to hold the tension, the ‘now not yet’ of it all. See you out there.

New Normal

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