All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
Shakespeare: As You Like It
It’s been a year of upheaval followed by chaos. I have been doing my best to remember what I’ve learned. The scriptures tell me I need to remain a calm witness to all the events unfolding around me. I’ve always had a problem with the analogy of being a witness, as if we are in the audience, merely watching a play. That would be infinitely easier than what we are actually being asked to do.
Shakespeare’s idea that we are all players on the world stage seems a more accurate description. The fact is, we are being asked not only to witness the play of life but to assume a role and to do our very best to enact it. That’s a lot more difficult than grabbing a tub of popcorn and watching the show.
So how do we do this well?
As I sat glued to cable television this week, watching what was hard to imagine and even harder to accept, it was impossible to remain aloof and detached. I was sucked in completely, paralyzed by fear, disappointment and anxiety. I was unable to maintain my all important equilibrium.
After a couple of days watching helplessly, I forced myself to step away and to recalibrate. What could I do about this? What was my role as a spiritual seeker?
Am I supposed to send out love? I feel no love for unruly mobs who cause harm and destruction. Am I supposed to withdraw and rise above the happenings around me? I cannot ignore the hundreds of thousands dying in a pandemic, the lost jobs, the poverty, the homelessness and the violent uprisings which threaten our democracy. That seems extraordinarily cold.
I have been meditating and praying on this very question. I am here at this time, and given these experiences for a purpose. There are lessons for me to learn and collective lessons for all of us to learn. There is a role for each of us to play, constructive or destructive, that moves the world forward. I also know my most important purpose is to understand my Self. I know that all creatures whether or not they are aware, are here to achieve the same thing and that furthermore, they, like me, are all part of that same Self.
Keeping that in mind as I go forward, I will heed Shakespeare’s wisdom. I will accept my role and play it to the best of my ability. I will not presume to question the script which the Divine Playwright has provided us as a society nor the individual role He has given me in this life. I will work and teach and write and treat with kindness all those who cross my path. I will dismiss hate and fear from my heart and will seek to empathize and to understand. Having made my entrance, I will trust that whatever God has planned for us is for our ultimate benefit, so that by the time I exit stage left, I have done my very best to fulfill my purpose and move closer to the Truth.
All the world’s a stage,