Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Night terrors and peace

Reading last week about banks getting government bailout money to lend and choosing not to lend it gave me the terrors.

At first, this little story merely me made me unhappy. If the problem in our economy is frozen credit, I thought, then we have to insist that the banks lend the money out. That money is not for the personal good of a group of bankers, but for the common good.

That night, I jolted awake with a night terror: What if the banks kept hoarding and not lending the money ... and the U.S. government, like Iceland, went broke? And chaos ensued and it was like Germany after World War I and we were wheelbarrowing our almost worthless dollars to the grocery store for a loaf of bread and skinheads took over and everything turned into an apocalypse, with no services, no health care, no food, people racing around the countryside with guns ... I was horrified that life as we know it might end. I had an inkling of what it must have felt like to be an early Quaker, with cataclysmic events such as a civil war and the beheading of a monarch, going on around you, upending the world you had always known. I found myself praying ---praying!!!--for nothing worse than a nice, orderly Great Depression. No, no, I thought, I'm not ready for the apocalypse.

Such are the night terrors. They tend to cast a pall on the day time routine as well. I worried.

But this past Sunday, at Stillwater meeting, I had a very strong sense of the presence of God. There is a humble, grace-filled spirit in that meeting. It felt, on Sunday, as if Christ were among us. And I felt, very deeply, that everything was going to be all right. I felt as if God were telling me, with certainty: Don't worry. Everything is going to be OK.

I don't know what that means, but the deep serenity and peace I experienced stayed with me for days.

But we of little faith. I got shaken yesterday as I read the newest Religion Newswriters Association newsletter. Jobs in newspapers, which were already in horrible shape, are continuing to drop like flies. Religion reporters are taking buyouts without having other positions lined up. People with far more experience than I are unemployed. I felt a sense of terror. The whole newspaper industry as we knew it is more or less finished, I decided.

Then I leaned into my experience of God and put things into perspective. The newspaper industry has been in a long, slow collapse since 9/11 and perhaps the dire economy has accelerated the industry's demise, but there's nothing new in what's happening. I left my daily paper job a year ago because I saw the writing on the wall. This is not the end of the world, and while I will continue to freelance if opportunities arise, I will also turn my attention to other things. Part of the reason I left my newspaper job was a feeling of constraint, a desire to break out into other forms of writing or being. Now I may have no choice.

But I digress. My point is that I have a strong sense right now of living in two realities that are more sharply delineated than ever: the more superficial, false and changeable world of darkness and the deeper and more serene world of light. I wonder if others are having the same experience?

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