I remember back in high school when I read the book Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut…I liked it but didn’t really understand it. However, I do remember that phrase “so it goes” that would be at the end of a statement or scene mentioning death or someone dying. So flippant and yet so poignant. I remember how foreign that feeling of resignation was in that phrase, to me an idealist teenager. I was a happy kid. I was super positive even in the midst of family struggles. Now as an adult and a pastor that phrase is something that is always at the forefront of my mind. So it goes.
Waking up in the morning and checking what’s going on in the world makes me sigh and think “so it goes” a lot more since the end of 2016. I think “so it goes” and then follow up with “are you f@#$ing kidding me?! Now what’s happened?!”
“So it goes” has been a way to express the emotional exhaustion of this roller coaster world we are living in. Children are dying by violent acts. So it goes. A tweet went out and caused the stock market to dip. So it goes. There are more people homeless. So it goes. People are being killed because of racism. So it goes. Fascist are running in elections throughout the world. So it goes. Women are being harassed and abused. So it goes. There is a nuclear threat from this or that country. So it goes. Another natural disaster happens. So it goes. There are millions of abused, starving, neglected, hurting people in the world. So it goes. The richer get richer and the poorer are getting poorer in this world and in this country. So it goes. An influential married man had an affair with a porn star. So it goes. Is, anyone else EXHAUSTED from this?
Resignation. Indifference. Numbness. Entitlement. Thoughts and Prayers.
Thinking back to “so it goes” in the book, Vonnegut was pointing us to what’s the point of all that death. The lack of meaning. That people are dying…and people don’t care and just move on. He points to over 100,000 civilians dying in the bombing of Dresden during WWII. Thoughts and prayers. That feels so trite. Right?! Thoughts and prayers.
But what can we do?! How can we even move forward with all these things going on?! What can an individual even do?! I don’t have the answer. I keep wondering this myself…I know in 2018 I can vote in the election, help my neighbors when I can, support my family, and love as frequently as possible. Maybe because I am an empathetic person the world feels heavier than it did a few years ago… but then you talk to others and they feel the heaviness too. We all know we must act and we do or plan too. However, after my past year of tons of action and constantly on the go I came to the realization that prayer was not just something you do or make a post about…it can change you.
Prayer. I honestly have for struggled with prayer this past year. I mean what is the point?! I was skeptical as a pastor even though as a child it got me through so many difficult times. I honestly think I forgot about the power of prayer. I think my brain had been taken over with the latest news, social media, etc. That prayer became an afterthought. I thought prayer was just a thought. Thoughts and prayers is something I would do quickly and just post on social media. Well I was reminded I was wrong.
Prayer isn’t just a thought it’s something deeper than that. It is not something to just dismiss. If we really pray and meditate, energy fields supposedly can change around a person and become more positive. Prayer changing your energy field is connected to our spirit and this is now being looked at by scientists in quantum physics. The ancient spiritual leaders like Jesus and Buddha showed this through prayer/meditation, and now science and speakers like Rob Bell are discussing these energy fields around us! Prayer is not something about asking for things or blessings—prayer can change your being and your body. Prayer can slow you do and push you to reflect. Prayer can change the energy field around you.
At first, I thought it was a bunch of BS. And maybe you think this is a whole bunch of BS, and that is totally fine. I respect that. For me, though, prayer started coming to the forefront again in my life last winter because of the anxiety I started to experience. I started having anxiety more frequently since January 2017 (you can guess why), and I even had a few random panic attacks caused by the heaviness of what was going on. My family was worried, and my uncle stepped in and encouraged me to learn transcendental meditation from our close family friend. “No excuses anymore,” my uncle told me. I didn’t even know why I was anxious- it was weird. Well, I still thought it was a load of that alternative “crap” but I should try it.
Through meditation I found prayer again. And it helped. You might not see an external change with me and I might still lash out and get depressed, and the “so it goes” is still there…but the sigh doesn’t take over me anymore. I came to the realization I can’t personally change or save my community or world. I can be a part of change, but it is not up to me alone. Prayer and meditation opened me up to see the good and light happening right now in the world. That the darkness is not winning. That there is light even if just a flicker- and it can’t be quashed.
Even with all this BS going on in the world; look at how many people are waking up and saying, “this is not OK!” Look at how many people are marching, voting, speaking up. Look at the teenagers making a stand and how even in our local areas good things are happening. This loud cry of hate in the world is a last groan because they are losing…one is louder when they know they have lost.
There is good in this world. LOTS of good. People are acting out of love. People are saying no to it. They are naming it- the indifference, the evil, the hatred. It is getting exposed and it is unable to hide out in dark corners of society anymore. If we don’t name it and shine light on it, the ugliness remains hidden in the shadows. This world is moving forward toward love, acceptance, and care for each other and creation. So it goes…we pray, act, and take a stand and the world moves forward. So it goes…we name the hate. So it goes…we say these innocent deaths have meaning and need to stop. So it goes…yes so it goes…sigh…toward the light.