Humans have a hard time with seeing things without putting them in categories. Things are good or bad, sacred or profane, The physical world can be seen as a place that distracts us from our important spiritual work. Looked at from the traditional Christian perspective, we are created, live a brief time on earth, then spend eternity somewhere else – where, based only on what we did while on earth. On the other hand, many cultures see time as more cyclical, and reincarnation is spiritual recycling. We come to earth, learn lessons, die, live some time elsewhere, review the lessons we learned, then come back for new ones (or sometimes a do-over), on and on until we may join with a mystical 0ne. (There are other theories. I guess we won’t know for sure until we get there, and maybe not then.)
But I prefer the idea that the physical and spiritual worlds are blended and equally important. Certainly there is ample evidence that there are other beings out there in parallel worlds that intersect with ours, and some of them seem very eager to hop into our bodies if we give them the chance, (ghosts, loa, ancestors…) to enjoy eating, drinking, dancing, (smoking, screwing,…). This supports the theories that the physical world is a place that makes it possible for us to do things we can’t do on the non-physical planes, and interact with the many other beings who also live here. Spiritual paths that see the physical world as a manifestation of divinity certainly see the natural world as a positive, wonderful place, as spiritually valid as the non-physical plane.
It can also be an uncomfortable and dangerous place, and sometime we have to deal with those aspects of it. Some say that these are the situations we have chosen to learn certain lessons that we need. Certainly when the situation constrains us, we have to focus on what is most important, something we wouldn’t choose to do when given a wide range of comfortable choices. Sometimes our choices are so reduced we don’t have any choices left except how we’re going to deal with the lack of choices. Like a corset or a cast on a broken limb- circumstances sometimes make us stay in a position we wouldn’t otherwise be in. But I mention those images because sometimes, the position, however uncomfortable, is just the one we need to be in.
For those of you who know the Tarot- think of the meanings of the four and seven of cups. (if you don’t read Tarot, look at the images and draw your own conclusions from them.) With the seven of cups we are spoiled for choices, it can even be immobilizing because we have so many to pick from; in contrast, with the four of cups, we are left wondering if we trying to reach for a new option might put what we already have at risk. Having choices is not always beneficial.
So when we are in one of the periods of our life when our choices are reduced or absent, we still have the ability to learn, benefit, and heal from the situation. If nothing else, we may be more appreciative when we get a few more, if humble, options. We may have learned valuable skills and perspectives that will serve us later in life. Or, we may come through the crisis transformed, as so many who go through near death experiences do, with a whole new view of reality. Whether physically, spiritually, emotionally challenged, the greatest lesson usually is some form of help each other when you can.