Archive for March, 2020

I’m no expert in Tarot – not by a long shot – but I’ve always had a particular fondness for card number IX, the Hermit. This iconic image of an old, hooded man, staff in one hand and lantern in the other, resonates with me on a very deep level. Folks who know me well would not be surprised by this at all. Indeed, one of my best friends recently encouraged me (only half in jest) to offer my skills as a consultant in hermitting, in this new age of social distancing and self-isolation. Apparently, we are all be asked to become hermits for the time being, and many people find that exceedingly challenging.

As Covid-19 sweeps through the global population, everyone except essential workers are being told in no uncertain terms to go home and stay there. Front line health-care staff and other service providers are already feeling exhausted by the demands of this pandemic, and the rest of us feel vaguely overwhelmed by the fact that we can really do nothing except stay home. Of course, there are many interesting new ways being developed, mainly online, for people to stay connected and keep working. Churches, libraries, and other community centres are empty, but their staff are working hard to provide their ministries and services in novel ways.

This is great, and I have no doubt that this odd situation will bear the fruit of creativity and devoted, even heroic, public service for the sake of the common good.

But in the midst of all our activity, I hope we do not lose the other opportunity being presented to us: the invitation to go within. To embrace stillness and silence, and dive deep. To learn how to connect with the Hermit who lives in each of us. In a recent online message, Philip Carr-Gomm (the current chosen chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids) encouraged us to use this time to practice the spiritual discipline of the retreat. As Ostara unfolds, and Lent deepens, religious leaders of many traditions encourage us to go within and meditate, pray, and send healing energy to the world around us. That type of work is invisible; it is done on the inner planes, in the dark and quiet times of stillness. It can’t be tracked or quantified, and often we never get outer confirmation that our spells and prayers have “worked”. But this is the true vocation of the Hermit: to be alone, to go within, to lean on the staff of divine support, and to shine the light of the Spirit into the depths of the world around us.

As this pandemic unfolds, may each of us embrace the Hermit within, for the sake of the common good.

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