The name for this blog comes from the Hebrew word merchab. Merchab is a masculine noun that appears most often in the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures. It means a broad or roomy place, an expansive place, a wide place. Read more...

May 27, 2009

In the Midst of Chaos

How do we respond in the midst of chaos? How do we relate to confusion and uncertainty? What is our first choice when the future seems full of doubt and the way forward is unclear? What is our reaction when we do not understand what is going on?

Most commonly, faced with life situations that are in upheaval, we are probably tempted to panic. All we want is to get life under control, make things work, find our way back to an imagined stability and security we believe we once enjoyed.

It is easy to get caught in the drama of uncertainty. You feel the adrenalin rush that comes from looking down the dark tunnel of the future and seeing only foreboding and threat in the distance. We flail around desperately seeking easy answers we hope will get us back on track. We analyze, strategize, organize, and rush to finalize our plans. We long for the day when everything becomes clear and our fear begins to ease.

Perhaps there is another way to respond to the inevitability of instability and turmoil.

In her poem “Evidence,” Mary Oliver suggests,

We all/ have much more listening to do.

A better response in the midst of chaos may be to just stop. Let the fear subside; step aside from the intensity of the moment. The writer of Lamentations says,
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)
Find a place of rest; stop; stay still.

In the midst of chaos, we need to heed Mary Oliver’s wise counsel in “Swimming, One Day in August,”

It is time now, I said,
for the deepening and quieting of the spirit
among the flux of happenings.

But quieting and waiting is not time for doing nothing. While you wait, you watch. In the quietness you listen to the words and stories others are telling in the chaos. From the stillness you pay careful attention to what is going on around you. You notice your own feelings; you observe the actions and choices others are making. You do not judge; do not rush to hasty conclusions. You sit at the centre of the turmoil and see what is unfolding. Gradually, something comes into focus.

In “Summer Story,” Mary Oliver writes,

now here I am
spending my time,
as the saying goes,
watching until the watching turns into feeling.

Good action comes, not from panic, but from patience. The disciplines of healthy choices are careful attention, attentive watching, and deep listening. As Mary Oliver points out, the “watching turns into feeling.” Some deep inner knowing begins to emerge, a gentle stirring happens within. It may not solve the chaos, but this gentle stirring guides you to the light; it moves you forward even in the midst of chaos.

You will know this stirring because it speaks with a soft and a gentle voice. It does not push or force. It moves gently and, wherever it leads, it creates openness, freedom and love. As you trust this inner knowing, you find that, whatever happens, you are able to thrive in the midst of chaos.

1 comment:

Rob H said...

"How do we respond in the midst of chaos."
An interesting view which in the way I feel today I've translated as a loss.
Right now we are renovating so I've been clearing the office where the computer lies such I found time to visit the blogs after a few weeks away
My loss is realizing that when I was first diagosed with rheumtroid arthritis in 2007 and took early retirement it was to discover I could not travel and live in another country more then perhaps 2 months as BC Pharmacare would not issue me a biological drug unless I was in the province. So, it was the loss of a perceived freedom of choice. We would talk about doing work for the Lord as a vacation outlet in our retirement.
Recently my Kidneys have caused issues such that my travel worries are gone, as I'm now restricted to 1 1/2 hours travel , to ward off blood clots.
So,I have no worries about abusing BC Pharmacare policy. I'm to stay put in this province.
Does this mean I had it all wrong , that God has work for me here?