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Blog Alan Seale, Mar 16, 2020 | Intentional Living

As the coronavirus has brought the world to a near standstill, we find ourselves living in unprecedented times and navigating uncharted territory. The Great Breaking Open is giving way to the Great Slowing Down. We have been told to restrict movement, stay at home, and curtail all group activities. “Social distancing” has become the new buzzword, yet what we really need is “social solidarity.” It may be necessary to keep distance between one another physically for a while, yet we need connection with one another more now than ever. We’re all in this together. Hearing and responding to the callings of our times is our common assignment.

Terry Patten, American philosopher, social entrepreneur, and author of the new book, A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries, writes:

We alive at this time
are the luckiest people
who have ever lived,
and the ones facing the wildest,
most terrifying challenges.
This is not just a “deep paradox,”
it’s an existential invitation to keep
waking up, right now.

We have arrived at a moment of course correction for the whole world on every level of society. Of course, there are immediate physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic needs to address as the crisis grows further, persists, and then fades. However, as the world breaks open and slows down, we also have an opportunity to chart a new course. If we only focus on “fixing” what isn’t working, we will return to the status quo, and this moment in time will have been wasted.

The First Questions May Not Be What You Think

We have been conditioned to jump right to the question “What are we going to do?” However, it will serve us to step back and first ask “Who do we wish to become?”

From there, we can explore what forms and structures want to be created with the express purpose of helping us become who we want to be – as individuals, families, communities, companies, countries, and as a global community.

As we navigate the coming weeks and months with the coronavirus and whatever else comes our way, our job is to listen, sense, and intuit the messages, guidance, and potential that is hidden in plain sight all around us and within us.

Covid19 is a respiratory virus. It takes our breath away. Among other things, it’s demanding that we slow down and pay attention to our relationship to breath, to life, to each other, and to our planet. It’s interesting to note that since China’s lockdown, the air quality in Beijing has dramatically improved. It seems that the Great Slowing Down might just be giving us not only time and space to breathe; it’s also giving us cleaner air to breathe!

Questions That Can Take Us Deeper

The Great Slowing Down invites many questions. To get started, we can ask:

  • As the whole world comes to a standstill, what am I / are we being given time for?
  • What is important for me/us to pay attention to? What urgent messages have been hiding in plain sight all around us, but we haven’t noticed? Or maybe, if we are honest, we did notice some of them, but chose not to pay attention because they weren’t messages we wanted to hear.
  • What invitations, opportunities, and messages could be waiting for me/us if I/we were to slow down to the speed of presence – the speed of living that allows me to be fully present with all that is going on inside of me and in the world around me?
  • What is important in our relationships with one another?
  • What must we now address as individuals, as countries, and as a global system? What is it now time to create in your own life and in our collective life together?

The sooner we tune into the callings of our times and actively respond, the quicker the virus will have done its work and can leave. Our job, however, will be to:

  • Keep paying attention going forward
  • Apply the lessons and gifts that have come from this time
  • Continue saying Yes to what our ever-unfolding and evolving times are asking us for
  • Keep taking next steps

The human spirit is incredibly resilient. The time for these questions is now. Step by step, we can find our way forward and, together, do our part to create a world that works for all.