Breaking News….we interrupt this Epiphanytide to update you that….Mercury is retrograde until February 21st. February’s full moon this year is on the 27th of this month. I’m also sure some planets will soon be aligning….blah(things) blah (are) blah (really) cosmologically blah (bad) blah (right) blah (now). More Breaking News….we know.
As a pastor I listen intently to both individuals and also our congregation and community to ascertain how people are doing. I don’t always trust my own perceptions as reliable barometers to accurately gauge current states of affairs. When I begin to hear, repeatedly, from those who normally are not that cosmologically or usually astrometrically aligned that the root cause of everyone’s crazy behavior is the backward motion of the planet Mercury, I know people are hurting and things are bad. Of course, I try to gently point out that Mercury’s motion is relative to our own Terran motion so Mercury doesn’t actually, in point of fact, ever go “backwards.” Or “forwards” for that matter. Actually, Mercury follows a “hair on fire” gravitational orbital trajectory, circling our Sun every 88 Terran days. Really fast, the same direction, all the time. I politely suggest that it’s not Mercury that is retrograde, but us, even before the awkward astrological observation that all the other planets (and yes, I am a pro-Plutarian so Pluto’s included!) actually also circle the Sun in mostly predictable ways.
Well, cough cough sputter sputter, it must be the full moon then! You know, I know, everyone knows that Emergency Room psychiatric admissions spike every full moon, right, yeah? No, they actually don’t, and how I wish they really would so folks with mental health challenges can receive the care they need. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Gosh, I’m suffering a psychotic break, I’d better get myself in to my local Emergency Room to receive the life-saving psycho-pharmacological screening I need right now!” I mean, really? (And for the record, that’s a rhetorical question!)
Nope. It’s not Mercury, nor full moons, nor planetary alignments which ail us. It’s us and this fallen world in which we reside. I believe it was C.S. Lewis who once said that we carry the memory of Eden but we can never again inhabit it. Lewis also said, “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.” We are currently beset by difficulties personal, communal, viral, national and global. I hear you. Our marriages, our mental and emotional health, our relational lethalities of loneliness and depression, our physical threats of contagion, our existential screaming need to love and be loved authentically in return…all are in full display, not through a telescope, but right here and right now. I believe we are just beginning to pay the emotional check in 2021 which we all unknowingly wrote throughout 2020. For we Christians, I believe it vital to know, speak and comport ourselves with the spiritual maturity and humble groundedness which we have been given in Christ. No retrograde allowed!
- Christians are dedicated to spiritual reality. Indeed our entire perspective is shaped by a ruthless dedication to scriptural, theological and liturgical reality, no matter how (guaranteed at some point or other) painful that dedication can be. A good Epiphanic reflection is to conduct one of those searching, fearless internal inventories to ask, “Am I living, moving and exercising my daily being in reality?” If so, praise God! If not…
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!! We all must take responsibility for our own selves in every moment. We do not use the passive third person tone as believers! I must claim, before God and those I love, my responsibility for every word and deed, done and left undone and left kinda sorta partially done. This is the true first step to spiritual and personal integrity.
- My accountability partner and I speak weekly. He shared with me 6 daily affirmations to fulfill and celebrate. The last one is, “I am completely responsible for my own responses to all persons and all events.” Period. Planetary motions do not govern us! God and our behavior do. Wow.