Life is hectic. Work, family, friends, and all the activities that go along with those things make life fun and exciting, but it also is a lot to keep up with.
We are naturally busy--we're Americans after all, but we now have an added layer of stress due to everything that is happening around the world and in our country. There is so much fear and anger and anxiety. It weighs on all of us, and sadly it is nearly impossible for us to escape the constant news cycle and the worries of the world. Social media doesn't help...
If you look on the American Psychological Association’s webpage on stress you’ll see a number of statistics that compare the stress levels of Republicans and Democrats, or Mid-westerners and Southerners. But the fact is, we’re all stressed out. The numbers don't lie: we are much more anxious now than we were twelve months ago.
Some may be more actively worried than others, but we’re all concerned about the election, the pandemic, and if grandma is going to die from COVID.
We all need to find moments to pause. During this pandemic, I have tried to do a better job of pausing during the day and taking a deep breath. There is nothing productive or noteworthy about these short moments of reflection, but they have helped me immensely. Whether it’s centering prayer, meditation, or just turning everything off in the room for a moment; we need that time of peace in our daily lives.
While I’ve been in the office on this rainy day in Nashville I’ve been listening to Gabe Dixon, a local artist who is a gifted songwriter. One of his songs speaks to our present situation quite nicely, it’s entitled, “All Will Be Well.”
The song begins:
The new day dawns,
And I am practicing my purpose once again.
It is fresh and it is fruitful if I win,
But if I lose,
I don't know.
I'll be tired,
but I will turn and I will go.
Only guessing 'til I get there,
Then I'll know.
I will know.
And then the chorus:
All will be well,
Even after all the promises
You've broken to yourself.
All will be well,
You can ask me how
But only time will tell.
Beautiful, isn’t it? We will continue to “practice our purpose” day in and day out, not always knowing how fruitful it will be or where it will lead us. We may not know exactly the direction life is taking us, we may even be guessing, but once we get there then we’ll know. Until then, all will be well.
It reminds me of a famous quote from St. Julian of Norwich (c.a. 1342-1416). Julian was a remarkable woman of faith who lived as an anchoress, meaning she dedicated her life to prayer and lived isolated in a small cell attached to the parish church in Norwich, England. A unique way to live life, to say the least.
She famously wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
I've wondered if Gabe Dixon knows about Julian’s quote. Unlike the song, Julian gives the reason why she knows all will be well.
It has everything to do with Jesus. When you read her work, you quickly discover that her thoughts of Jesus are neither pie in the sky daydreams nor are they heavy academic ideas. For Julian, they are centered on the love of God in Christ. She doesn’t just say all will be well, but she continues by saying, “For there is a Force of love moving through the universe That holds us fast and will never let us go.”
It is a life-giving and liberating love that flows from the heart of the Triune God. Only that Force of love can restore us and make us whole. Only that Force—who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—can give us the peace that passes all understanding as Paul says.
When Julian looked out at the horizon and saw the uncertainty that the future holds she didn't become overwhelmed with fear, but she was rooted in hope that all will be well because of Jesus. Though we may be "guessing til we get there," just trying to figure out what we need to do next in life, our Lord already knows where we are going and is there waiting for us to arrive.
So take heart and rest in God’s love, for a moment every day, if possible, but preferably for a lifetime... All will be well.