Dellarobia is talking to her best friend, Dovey, a friend she has had since childhood, in whom she confides just about everything. She is telling Dovey about the planned tryst in the hunting cabin up on the mountain, and her assignation being disrupted by the sighting of the Monarch butterflies, and her spiritual epiphany of sorts.
"If I had a reasonable explanation, you would hear it, Dovey. This is all I can tell you: it wasn't my decision. Something happened. I was blind, but now I see."
"Now you're talking crazy. Is this something religious?"
Dellarobia was at pain to answer. In twenty years she had sheltered nothing from Dovey, but there were no regular words for this. When you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk though fire, the flames will not set you ablaze. That was the book of Isiah. "It's not religious," she said. p.33
Dellarobia has no explanation for what has happened to her, her epiphany. Dovey, frightened for her friend, says, "Is this something religious?" and Dellarobia, trying to reassure her friend, denies her experience, maybe a little embarrassed and says, "It's not religious."
In our world of intellectual materialism we are quick to deny and eschew a religious experience. We are afraid to admit it even when it hits us along side the head like a 2 x 4. We could explain this embarrassment and denial by immaturity. Dellarobia is young, only in her mid 20s. She is very caught up in the material world and the conventional norms of the society she has been conditioned by. She has yet to be aware that she is complicit in creating the hell of the life she is living in. Her awareness grows as the story continues but for now Life is scaring her out of her normal habit of thinking and doing but, as the text says, she is at a pain to answer Dovey's question of whether she is going crazy or religious, either unacceptable options to the two friends.
I had a serious bout of depression back in 2009, one that interfered with my functioning. I was anxious, very sad, couldn't sleep, couldn't concentrate, had, what is called, "an impending sense of doom". I thought I was physically sick with something like the flu. I felt like I was "coming down with something", but the illness never erupted, I just continued to feel anxious, depressed, and wanted to isolate, withdraw, and not deal with anything. One of the things I perseverated on at the time was the dire predictions about climate change, and that we humans have crossed an important line and we are doomed. With the help of psychotherapy and anti-depressants, my depression and anxiety have lifted, but five years later, this sense of something very important happening to me still lingers. If you ask what troubled me so to bring this episode on I would be "at pain to answer". But like Dellarobia, I may be experiencing a prophetic moment when we are confronted by the "signs of the times" harkening a significant change in things to come.
For those who are spiritually sensitive, the fact that Gaia is groaning in pain has registered whether in a spiritual epiphany or a depression. And the only sane response in this insane world is to call for repentance. Human beings must acknowledge their sins, their mistakes, the error of their ways, and change. Dellarobia does repent. She tells Dovey that while she takes no credit something has graced her with the error of her former ways and now she senses a different and better path which she must proceed along even though she, at this point, can't make any sense of it. Dellarobia is bound to proceed on faith, faith in the truth of what is happening to her.
We Unitarian Universalists will need plenty of faith to proceed in the difficult times that are upon us. We will need each other and our principles more than ever and covenanting together to affirm and promote them is our hope that we can manage the future, as bad as it may become, in loving and constructive ways. Mother Nature asks this of us if we are to survive as a species unlike all the species that our irresponsible behavior have killed.