A new normal?
There has been lots of talk of a “new normal” – but what might that look like? As we anticipate society opening back up, it’s worth considering the spiritual qualities that are natural for each of us to express, and how daily devotion to expressing them more would make each day a “new normal.”
During these times of evolving regulations and social protocol, the question to many remains, “How soon can we get back to normal?” It’s natural to want to return to regular routines and living habits without fear and trauma, and it’s important to do so. But maybe the larger question is, Do we really want to get back to our former concept of normal? Or could we improve on it by cultivating the best traits in ourselves while letting go of less desirable ones?
What if going forward we were all committed to being more “spiritually minded” (see Romans 8:6), which inevitably brings forth more honesty, compassion, and joy, and less critical judgment, condemnation, or hatred? This, collectively, would bring increased cooperation and harmony between family members, neighbors, public agencies, businesses, and even opposing political parties. Of course this means we’d have to let go of some cherished norms – old ways of thinking and acting that we would find weren’t really fulfilling.
There are many examples in the Bible where individuals find a more fulfilling life. One that comes to mind is when the disciples, after Christ Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, chose to return to their “old normal,” their former occupation as fishermen. Having caught nothing all night, they heard a voice from shore telling them to cast their net “on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find,” and doing so, “they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes” (John 21:6).
The voice belonged to Jesus. When the disciples realized this, they quickly came ashore, where Jesus had prepared a morning meal over a fire of coals.
Mary Baker Eddy writes of this scriptural account in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “What a contrast between our Lord’s last supper and his last spiritual breakfast with his disciples ...! His gloom had passed into glory, and his disciples’ grief into repentance, – hearts chastened and pride rebuked. Convinced of the fruitlessness of their toil in the dark and wakened by their Master’s voice, they changed their methods, turned away from material things, and cast their net on the right side” (pp. 34-35).
Jesus’ direction to the disciples to “cast the net on the right side” wasn’t just suggesting a better fishing technique; his words had profound spiritual significance. He was challenging them to be better – to turn away from familiar, materialistic viewpoints and see a different reality where God is Spirit and all are God’s spiritual offspring, and to live out from that spiritual standpoint. This more God-centered way of thinking, acting, and healing was to become their new normal. It can be ours too!
In Ephesians we read, “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and … put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:23, 24). Prayer supports us in this effort to spiritualize thought. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated; it can be simply turning to God, divine Love, in humility and then listening for direction. It’s cultivating our receptivity to God’s goodness.
Through prayer we acknowledge our unity with our Father-Mother God, whose powerful and gracious healing love knows no limit, and whose ever-presence shields us from fear, disease, or harmful habits and events. We are God’s pure and cherished children – it’s our normal condition – and therefore we cannot be victimized or deprived, or manifest abnormality in body or behavior. Prayerfully claiming our heritage as God’s children, and living it, blesses humanity and allows us to express a new and improved “normal” on a daily basis. It strengthens our individual commitment to forgiveness, generosity, and brotherly love.
A helpful guide in this respect is the “Daily Prayer” Mary Baker Eddy includes in her “Manual of The Mother Church”: “‘Thy kingdom come;’ let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!” (p. 41).
Allowing ourselves to be changed in the way this inspired prayer outlines is playing a part in supporting a new and improved normal emerging for humanity as a whole, proving what it means to be increasingly governed by God.