Equanimity: Resting in God's Grace

Abundant Health Team

12/9/2020

 

By Rob Giannamore, Abundant Health Team member**

It definitely is not mile 1 or even mile 5. Maybe it's mile 16 or maybe mile 23, but whatever mile it is, it is not the first. My legs hurt, my feet hurt, I haven’t eaten a full meal in 3 or 4 hours, in fact I can’t eat anything right now because it immediately makes me want to go find a tree. I find myself questioning why I signed up for this race. It’s hot out here, I hope the Aid Station has Mountain Dew -- and that cheeseburger at the end sounds nice.

Everything is frustrating. The traffic, slow drivers, don’t they know I have somewhere to be?

COVID has messed up everything, our life, our mental health, our rituals, our norms.

Breathe! I truly believe that the Lord will make it okay, maybe not the okay you are looking for, though. By the way, what did Jesus mean by that whole “do not worry” thing?

I want to introduce you into the concept of equanimity. Essentially it is maintaining a sense of being chill when bad stuff is happening.

I have been thinking a lot about the concept of equanimity the last few months as our world has continued to devolve into some chaos.

Equanimity is a manifestation of resting in God’s grace and trusting in His plan. Humbled is another word that could be used to describe the state of equanimity. Christian equanimity is a matter of recognizing that our thoughts and ideas can only go so far compared to God’s, when we truly accept that we “can do all things through God who strengthens us.”  This is often a misused and misquoted verse from Paul. Paul did not mean we can do anything; he is talking about contentment, that we have equanimity amid our strife, as Paul was writing from prison. 

Thomas Merton's famous "Fourth and Walnut" quote adequately captures a sense of non-duality and loving kindness, compassion and empathetic joy: 

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

--from Merton's Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
 
With equanimity,  we need to think less of doing and more of being. Considering this, I am reminded of Chapter 7 in the Rule of Saint Benedict where it talks about humility. To be truly humble, we need to let go of ego. I would argue that ego is the opposite of equanimity.  With an equanimous posture, one does not assume any should's.   In the presence of the Divine, as all of creation is, we cannot fully embrace the beauty of the moment if we are too busy focusing on what we need to do. This has always been my problem with Christian mission work where we go and do something for somebody. From my work as a servant minister, it has always been my posture to just "be" in the presence I serve with no real attachment to what I am doing.
  

God IS in control, but not in the weird bully way.  Equanimity then is resting not in a God who is going to make it all better, but resting in a God who suffers with us and helps us ease into allowing what happens to happen. God does not really do anything except project universal love to all of creation. It is this love, this grace-filled unwarranted belonging between us and God that allows us to rest assured that no matter what happens, it is going to be okay, maybe not the okay we wanted, but okay nonetheless. 

This nothingness of God occurs because humanity creates the existence of God whereas God insists on existing. God is a trans-rational reality that defies our subjective observations of God (all the God is like allusions). Caputo offers that "God is God and people are people". I posit then that because God "is" and this "isness" is the creative force behind creation, the equanimous posture is for us as humans to just be. In the spirit of serving as Christ served, sometimes we just need to be quiet, sit down and just be. As a therapist, I understand this way more than most. As I tell my clients, I am not doing anything as your therapist, I am just being and allowing what happens to happen in this session. 


So then, as you plan the closing of your year, as you plan your final sermons, your final goodbyes to 2020: Grieve the loss of opportunities, even be mad about the missed opportunities, but in humility and compassion, bow to them, greet them at your door, welcome them to your home. We are all in this for the long haul. Cultivate a sense of acceptance and turn instead to cultivating love and peace for that which we can control.  Just be and allow the "is-ness" of God to arise in the midst of struggle.  

**Rob Giannamore is a licensed professional counselor and a personal fitness trainer in the Erie area. 

 


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