Tuesday Column by VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
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Spiritually related events are happening in rather quick succession in this period of coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19. In about a fortnight the Muslim month of Ramadan will set in, considered as the most important in the Islamic calendar during which Muslim faithful fast and pray for 28/29 days, culminating in the id festival (Id el Fitr) on Sunday May 24 and Monday May 25 to celebrate the successful completion of the fast. It is a spiritual event in that during the fasting period we focus less on ephemeral, earthly jollifications and endeavor to dig into the message of the Prophet (PBOH) – in brief we gaze upwards in supplication. Ditto the Christians who had their 40 days of fasting and prayer (Lent) leading up to the holy week and culminating in the Easter festival. It is fitting that both the Lenten and Ramadan fasts are coming in quick succession this year for they should prepare us inwardly for what should be the greatest festival of all on earth, indeed the whole of Creation – the outpouring of Power from the summit of Creation, way, way above paradise/heaven – in the divine realm (a distance inestimable by the human spirit because of its infinite to the human eye), for the renewal and maintenance of the entire Creation.
It happens on May 30 of every year, it has been happening from time immemorial. Should this Power from GOD fail to stream down then all of Creation and the creatures therein, including what we call Nature will wither off and cease to exist, leaving only Him alone, GOD, the Almighty, Eternal Father and Creator to whom we owe our existence. Nature prepares for this grace with the arrival of spring during which time Nature appears to be sprouting up anew with fresh blossoms – trees shed their leaves for new ones, etc. Ditto the elements which take on a sombre countenance, so to speak. It is as though Nature is wearing a new attire to await in solemnity the renewal of Power for the maintenance of continuous cycle of development of everything – germination, growth, fruiting ripeness, falling off (ejection), return to primordial seed, to start a new cycle of germination…….; and continued existence of human spirits both here on earth and in paradise. Like the sunshine, the renewal of power on this day touches all creatures of whatever species. Although majority of us are not especially conscious of it, many intuitively in a matter of seconds sense something at the particular time. And whoever opens himself/herself in humility with a pure heart would be strengthened by it for noble works irrespective of his creed. For, the Almighty is concerned only with the inner man, the human spirit, which knows neither tribe nor creed, those little things with which we cloak ourselves here on earth. In heaven/paradise there is none of this, only the human spirits as issued from the kingdom of God, the spiritual realm.
The Power of the Almighty which He renews for his creations and creatures, the Power which we use for our everyday activities and inventions is neutral. This means that in line with our freewill, an inherent aspect of the human spirit, we can choose to use it for good or evil purposes. In deploying it to good use we use it aright and we misuse it when we put it to evil purpose. There is only one Power, that which issues from the Almighty Father, no other powers as is erroneously bandied about. We can only talk of the misuse or misapplication of this one power issuing from the Almighty Creator of Heaven and earth. But woe betide those of us who so misapply it for we shall have to give account of how we have used this power which is only lent to us as we do not own it. Therewith those of us who misuse this neutral Power of the Lord will have to reap manifold the evils emanating therefrom, just as those who use it for only good purposes shall equally reap bountifully from the good deeds …..
I was talking about the appropriateness of the fasting times leading to the celebration of Easter and Id el Ftri coming close to the time of another spiritual event, the time when the Lord will literally renew the Power for the maintenance of His Creation, that enables those creatures like we human beings sheltering in His Creation to continue to exist. Is it a coincidence that these spiritual events are taking place in this period of coronavirus when our world is forced to ‘lock down’, to stay indoors mainly and put hold to ‘diversions’ as sports, amusement parks, outdoor festivities, etc. The fact that COVID-19 is wrecking health, economic and social sufferings all around us and which this age of technology is enabling us to see/ hear is forcing us to reexamine and rekindle our true humanity in self communion with our Lord and GOD. The fact that all countries on earth are in some kind of lock-down – economic activities virtually halted, all earthly entertainment pursuits banished for the meantime, all schools temporarily shut, everybody irrespective of status made to stay at home, indoors, world leaders scrambling in a rather confused way to find a solution to it should make us reflect. We should ask ourselves: what sort of ‘power’ could have made all countries to be on the same page with all of the world’s major streets, entertainment hotspots, beautiful churches, mosques, temples deserted? There is a spiritual side to this COVID-19.
It is no coincidence that this is happening at around the time when we are/were observing/ undertaking spiritual events like Lent/Easter, Ramadan/Id el Fitri, Outpouring of power from God for the renewal/ maintenance of the entire Creation, etc. They are all meant to shake our spirits somehow, to awaken our spirits and remind us that we cannot to live forever, a carefree life as we have hitherto been doing, that we should do the Will of God at all times, casting our gaze upwards at all times in humble solicitude to GOD for eternal sustenance; a silent admonition that humanity shall not live by bread alone, that is, engaged solely in earthly pursuits and unbridled acquisitiveness that does not consider his/her neigbousr’s wellbeing.
Easter 2020 was the most solemn that I have observed in this our world because of the lockdown. Even the weather was solemn and is still so. May we be open to the clarion call from Above.