An Empowering Crisis?

With the pandemic well into year two and variants seeming to outpace our attempts to quell the virus, I must admit I hesitate to write this. People are dying, and disparities are only amplified by the crisis. What a mess.

Yet the nature of crisis is that it drags us towards transformation. It hauls us either to a state of despair or determination.

The first results in the projection of powerlessness – we collapse in on ourselves or express it in anger and outrage.  At best, we are paralyzed. At worst, we lash out.

The second stems from a radical reframing that seeks an opportunity for something new, something better. This practice changes a problem into a challenge.  It calls us to connect and become agents for transformation.

A problem is a wall… a barrier, a block, an issue. It confines, it defines, it separates.

A challenge is a way… an opportunity for growth, creativity, imagination. It invites, it inspires, it expands who and what we think we are. It calls us to connect with others to enact change.

This is a sacred orientation, foundational to the way Spirit works. When we connect to this inner source, we become infused with a humble, yet confident power. It changes how we engage the issue, and clarifies what agency we have in it. This is how we forge purpose in the fire of crisis.

Even more, by its nature this is a shared power, one that flows from Spirit to us.  And that we, in turn, can share with others. That’s great news! It tells us that we have the power to create the needed shift, and its source is endless. It’s already there!

But it can be hard, if not impossible, to maintain this orientation. If you’re like me, you tend to default to ego, to the individualistic self, and lose sight of the collective, of your interdependence and interconnectedness in this world.1 Coming back to Love’s centre can be as simple as pausing, taking a breath, mindfully observing one’s thoughts and feelings. Come into partnership with Spirit. Then move forward with purpose.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice.”2

A problem is a wall. A challenge is a way. – David Maginley

Reframing the pandemic as a challenge to awaken compassion, to activate our ability to build a better tomorrow, to seek justice, means changing our relationship to the crisis. We reach out to those who are suffering, those who are scared, even those who are angry because beneath that emotion is the longing for a better world. Previously, I had posted about becoming a warrior of compassion. Now, more than ever, the world needs each of us to be such ordinary champions to bring about collective change.

Question: How do you connect to inner power?

  1. St. Paul expressed this struggle in Romans 7:15-20.
  2. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (Harper and Row: 1967), 37.

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2 replies
  1. Miki Ota
    Miki Ota says:

    Hi, David. Thank you for this post. As you say, it’s risky to write about this topic, but you use your core terms so precisely and consistently that your writing comes across as substantial. I noticed this while reading your book – your vocabulary is well-considered. Such an essential aspect of creating content in this particular field.

    I would also like to thank you for providing the world with a model of what clergy ought to be. I’ve been watching your talks and interviews on YouTube and am grateful to finally come across a priest (I’ll use this quaint term, even though it may sound awkward, mostly because of my Eastern Orthodox background) who cares more about people than about the business of religion, without straying from the beautiful traditions and insights of all religions. You span the generations in your sensibilities, which is practically unheard of in the eastern church.

    Finally, it’s so refreshing to see someone who, in the midst of this global crisis, gently tries to bring people to love, clarity of perception and fearlessness. Personally, while I don’t take this pandemic seriously, I take great care to wear the mask and physically distance in all the locations where this is required by law and around people who do take it seriously, for their peace of mind. So I don’t really have an issue with fear and panic, at least where this pandemic is concerned. However, you seem to take it very seriously, and yet you don’t give in to the panic. You actively encourage others to stand firm in love, empathy, compassion and openness. You encourage others to think clearly. Yours is the more difficult path, and I greatly admire you for treading it so elegantly.

    Thank you.

    • David Maginley
      David Maginley says:

      Thank you, Miki, for your encouraging and thoughtful feedback. I’m grateful my reflections have such a positive impact – one never knows what will happen when we move in partnership with Spirit! Your generous words help me reflect on why producing this material is important, and for that I’m deeply grateful.


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