“Dad, why haven’t we ever traveled outside of California?”
Without hesitation my dad responded, “Why would you want to leave Paradise?”
I was a restless, discontented teenager, yearning for travel and adventure, not realizing it was all within reach. We lived in a most prosperous and safe place. The mountains, the ocean, National Parks, cities, history and the future and family were within 2 hours of northcentral California town of the ’70’s.
Now that I am located in Western Michigan with my family located on the foursides of the nation, I get all the travel I ever wanted and more. Now that I travel at least two months out of the year to different venues each time, I have gotten over the romantic travel bug and have faced the reality of regular TSA searches, forgetting luggage, obnoxious fellow travellers, staying overnight in airports, jetlag, dirty hotels, and excessive resturant food. Now I am learning to adapt to living out of a suitcase.
The one place in California where we making our home away from home, is Seascape. It is a little resort town on the Pacific Ocean. .
The majestic Pacific ocean quiets the soul as one comtiemplates the Creator. Seascape is in a spot where it can be foggy or cold even in the summer, so sun bathing is not necessarily a certainty. Quite often we explore in the morning, after nine, when the traffic subsides and then return in the afternoon and enjoy a long walk on the beach or swim in the pool. We venture out for a early dinner in order to be back in time for the sunset.
Some of our favorite eating places in the morning.
The Red Apple Cafe in Aptos has outdoor eating and has huge helpings of favorites with special twists that make it extra delicious. When I order from their menu, I always plan on taking half home for another meal.
Some of our favorite outings include a drive through Watsonville and Salinas, stopping at Moss Landing.
If we go north we like to hike Nicene Forest in Aptos, Henry Coswell Park, Big Basin or Mount Hermon.
When he was in prison, Paul said, "I have learned whatever situation I am to be content." (Phillippians 4:11) Of course seeing these breathtaking sights, one can glibly say, "whatever state I am ..." but most situations are not breathtaking sunsets. Or if there is Paradise, there is always the snake of sadness, loss, exhaustion, sickness, broken relationships or anxiety. In a dirty Roman prison, Paul could not even look up, but he knew his Creator and Savior. Knowing our God, no matter our circumstances we can quiet our hearts and finish the day and start again with the rest of that inspired example: " I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through God who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:12-13)
I moved from North Central California to Western Michigan forty years ago. In my youthful (euphemism for foolish ) wisdom, I reasoned that when I got married the practical thing was to be transplanted where my new husband had a job. Ironically, my grandparents before me had uprooted from the midwest and moved to California for the very same reason. I am sure they had no thought that anyone would ever want to leave beautiful California , the family and the established community to start all over again. Yet more than ever families are being fragmented as the children move to the four corners of the US if not all over the world. So I know that I am not unusual, nor is it unusual for parents having raised their children to be left alone while their offspring fly off to start their lives alone.
Steinbeck came from an area similar to mine. Farm country. I do not think his family faired as well as mine, but nevertheless he went off to find his fortune and would return hoping for that sense of home.
I did return many times and still do. When I land in the Sacramento area, the sun is welcome, warming up my bones and the air smells like fertile soil. One way or another, we get to the small town, where almond trees used to grow.
It’s such a small town, if one literally blinks on highway 99 going south, one will miss it. When I grew up the town was surrounded by almond, peach and walnut orchards with dairies beyond that and the hills and mountains beyond that. Now this small town is like an island in an urban ocean of highways and housing complexes closing in as fast as the investors can buy up the farm land for another lucrative developement. The people are trading in their quiet self sufficient lives for hectic trips to Cosco, school, gymns and jobs anticipating weekend getaways to recharge for another week. I hear the highway buzz from my family home now. Instead of an almond orchard across the street, there is an asphalt parking lot with a donut shop, restaurant and nail salons.
My family still lives in this small town but now recreates and gathers in a little community southwest of my hometown. It’s about a two hour drive taking 17, which is a winding twisting highway through the hills and mountains at speeds supassing the speed limit of 45 by 20 mph. Even wikipedia had it’s caution about that route:
SR 17’s combination of narrow shoulders, dense traffic, sharp turns, blind curves, wandering fauna such as deer and mountain lions, and sudden changes in traffic speeds have led to a number of collisions and fatalities, leading to the reputation of SR 17 as one of the most dangerous highways in the state. In the winter months, because SR 17 crosses a high precipitation area in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the roadway can become slippery from rain, snow or ice, especially at the summit.
Since I live out of state, it requires a plane trip to San Jose and then a short drive from the dotcom grid to the quiet seaside town of Aptos. To the east there is the mountain range that includes the San Andreas fault and to the west the Pacific ocean beyond the Monteray Bay that includes Monteray to the south then going north Moss Landing, Watsonville,Aptos, Rio del Mar, Capitola, Santa Cruz and on up to the more renown sophisticated areas such as San Franscico. Beautiful is an understatement. A little to the east of Watsonville is the town of Salinas, that brought Steinbeck to reminisce with a yearning for a home that was gone or was never there except in his dreams.
Over Mother’s Day weekend we met my daughter, son-in-law and four girls in Aptos. We drove highway 17 to my hometown to spend Sunday to worship in my hometown church that has aged with me and to spend the day in my parents home with two sons, my siblings and their kids. There were 25 of us eating, visiting, and playing. It then that I disagreed with Steinbeck. No one wanted to leave. We wanted it to stay that way. All of us together. Healthy. Full. Connected. Belonging. Home. We talked until the blue sky transformed into that cooler pink sky as twilight approached, whispering that we can’t be here forever. The next time I see my parents they will have aged, ever losing the strength to live in this dying world, as will I. My grandchildren will be taller and smarter, learning to take the places we leave behind.
Our lifelongs patterns and commitment to the faith and family tradition we can come together and feel connected. Yes, we have all aged and changed in ways of occupation, looks, interests. We have grown in some good ways and in some ways that could use a little pruning. We share the mundane, the fun, the sad and the hardships of life. We encourage and support, even though we might not do things the same way for better or worse. Yet we are anchored in a shared substance that transcends time and space.
Later that evening we got back on Highway 17 to head back to Aptos. The next day we thought we would spend time at the beach. The ocean is always exciting, but it can be cold and foggy in this area. There was such a drama to the waves on this day. The noise is deafening. The sky and ocean seemed angry but no rain. I could understand the temptation to the ancient people and even many people today who make gods out of the creation, if they don’t know the Creator.
The following day we went to Henry Coswell park where there are many preserved redwoods in an area that four little girls can walk without too much effort. If you want an adventure you can hike further up the mountains. This day it was dry and hot and the girls did not have too much ambition for that. There’s an old time steam engine that one can ride through the area as well. My husband and I ended the day by driving up the coast to sea the sunset from one of the many cliffs where farms meet the sea.
Thus says the LORD:
Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be,
declares the LORD,
But this is the one to whom I will look;
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)
The energy and necessity of moving to and fro across the earth is inevitable. Nothing is stagnate. Yet, God provides stability, purpose and hope in His providence. I have the blessing of family that keeps us grounded and gives us identity as our lives are scattered. I am also thankful for the travel that is accessible to us. That has not always been the case and still is not for many people. Knowing we are only pilgrims on this earth, gives me the ability to keep my bags packed and to live in the moment with the future in God’s hand. And until we are willing to embrace that fully, can we open ourselves to going from being uprooted to being transplanted.
Sometimes we desire solitude, sometimes it is imposed on us. Sometimes its a lifetime condition if we live alone for a reason of choice or circumstances. For whatever the reason, we can do it well or not. I have not had the opportunity to be alone for too long of a time. Sometimes, I need it and sometimes I want it. I am not sure I do it well but I have seen others do it well.
Longterm solitude such as that of a single person, young or old can be done well. Knowing people from the great generation(those from World War II era) seemed to do many things well. The people I know who are in their 70’s and beyond live their lives with dignity. They keep their houses tidy, exercise, refrain from excessive media, dress well, and eat at a table with clean plates at designated times. They have rich lives ( notice, I did not say they are rich- but have rich lives). Their conversations are filled with depth of experience, thought and wisdom. Most have experienced lives of scarcity, danger, loss and dissappoinment. There experiences range from rejection or loss of spouses, loss of children, war experiences, starvation, immigration, sickness and now isolation. Many would have the excuse not to get up in the morning, dress well, eat well or stay off the computer or TV. Yet, the several octonogerians, I know, go to church faithfully in their nicer clothes ( not their ripped jeans or sweatshirts), embrace hospitality, and hope.
I look around and see many younger people, that is 60 and younger who can spend a day binging on TV, junk food, complaining and struggling with depression.
How can we do better and be an encouragement to those around us, even in our solitude?
The first time I started to think about this is when I came across a book called The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer, wife of theologian and philospher Frances Schaeffer. Edith didn’t have much alone time but she did value dignity and beauty for all because we are made in the image of God. She encouraged people (even if one was alone) to use creativity to enhance their environment. We all have a need for beauty and order but sometimes the motivation lacks because of hard things or simply poor habits. Edith encouraged her readers to use flowers or a candle at mealtimes. She suggested planning meals, even if one does not have much with which to work.
Solitude can refresh, heal and inspire us. But in order to notice the benefits one must turn off the incessant stream of noise including music, take the time and let your mind realax. Surround yourself with beauty, preferably nature. Take a walk in a nearby park or woods. If that isn’t possible – go outside and look up. Maybe you don’t have a big chunk of time for solitude, then start small and carve out five minutes, you might have to schedule it in. Turning off the excess sound or taking a break from the internett provides the break one needs as well.
Maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum and have too much alone time. Then make your time full. Clean up, dress well, eat well, improve your environment. Don’t fill your head with things that clutter like new opinions, or even news that is irrelevant. Do something kind or helpful. Write a note. Pray for those in need. Start a gratitude list. Read scripture. Pick some flowers or shop for them and put them on your table. Go to the library instead of the theatre, walk downtown, say “hello” to at least one person. Fill your mind with things that will enrich it. Make a list of all the things you want to do and learn and then break it down and put the first step on your calendar. Plan a celebration or even inviting people that maybe have too much alone time too or maybe those who would like to get together but don’t have enough alone time to organize anything.
Solitude is the atmosphere that one needs for creativity, yet we are never truly alone but always in the presence of a living God, our Creator and Savior. We can be confident in our solitude, that we are valued and safe.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell
in the uttermost part of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
I am back swimming at the YMCA. Swimming is for introverts. We don’t have to talk to anyone and we are left to our own thoughts guilt free. That is,most of the time. The other day I saw a couple of ladies leisurely swimming together in a lane talking together and having the best time connecting and solving the world’s problems. I chatted with them a minute and found out they met at the Y and became fast friends. They mentioned not everyone likes to swim so it’s easier finding a swimming friend while swimming.
The energy and joy is always there when we see two people of any age walking, working, sitting, praying together. This world needs the gathering of two or more more than ever. Since the Covid and enforced solitude and inactivity we have seen less and less of the gathering of friends.
I came across the term “lock down fatigue.” Lock down fatigue might not be what you think. The author was not referring to being tired of stuck at home alone, rather she was observing the malaise of being a little too comfortable with staying in our jammies, sipping our favorite beverage on our favorite chair without the motivation to clean up, brush our hair or teeth because after all we were not going anywhere and no one was going to see us anyway.
Ah yes, the comfort of not going anywhere or seeing anyone, much less ministering to anyone ( after all, I don’t want to spread the Covid) took hold of me too. It was like a luxiourious blanket to be able to sit by my fire spending a little more time in my devotions rather than rushing out the door in my swim suit to work out on a dark cold morning. When I am alone, I don’t deal with the tension of “fitting it all in”, I can complete a thought, start a project and finish it maybe before I have to clean it up before company. I don’t have to worry if my jeans are little snug, because, well, I can wear my stretchy work clothes. I don’t have to worry about not saying the “right thing” because I am not saying anything. I can just relax.
But like anything, it gets to be a habit and I get sloppy. The sloppier I get, the more unproductive I feel. I know that I am getting lazy. I am becoming the sloth. And I am getting a little depressed but the thought of getting out is harder than the weeks before lock down. “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep..(Proverbs 19:15)My thoughts make more sense in their lack of precision because I don’t have to organize them for someone else to refine. I get a little more self absorbed. Love is becoming an theory for other people not an action for me.
Relationships take work. One also gets bumped bruised and loses oneself in the process. It’s like the fingerprint. My finger prints are getting less and less distinctive. My parents hardly have finger prints at all. Yes, they are very hard workers, unlike someone who has a disablity where they cannot use their hands. Most likely they will have distinctive fingerprints yet. My parents have full and rich lives with a lot of adventures and great memories and plans.
I have to push myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t wait until I feel like it or until it’s safe. There is always an element of the unknown and danger in a broken world, but it’s really not as bad as what the media can imply. Besides the more I do the more empowered I am to be a part of the community and influence for the good.
If you haven’t been connecting with people start small. Maybe a phone call today, a coffee date tomorrow or a walk on the next nice day.
The other part of flourishing in a community of two is not taking for granted the community you have with that one person you have in your home if you are an empty nester, or just have a small household of people. More and more people live like strangers and don’t even practice hospitality with those they live with. Make meal times special. Eat togther. Try new dishes. So what if it doesn’t turn out. No one will starve and next time it will be easier. Cook together and clean up together. No one ever died while filling the dishwasher or clearing their plate. Do a little project together. Plant flowers. Read books and then share interesting parts with eachother. Do music together. Pray together. Plan outings – even during the Covid crisis people could go for little walks- now that we are getting used to it – now more than ever get out and walk.
Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered, there I am also…” Such simple words, yet so powerful for an abudant life close to God.
The surprising thing about this season of lock down, thinking that people were supposed to stay apart to avoid disease, the opposite happened. Pent up anger and frustration built up. Divisions widened. On going social problems only intensified until they blew up and produced more anger, greater divides, frustration, injustice, futile and destructive protests, insanity and death.
Thanks to Zoom we survived: my family, my book club, my writing club, church and Bible Study Fellowsip. Fill in the blank. I hope you had a community to join. It’s supposed to put years onto your life. We need eachother, even introvers.The Science is there. I think it is one thing Christians, agnostics, liberals and conservatives alike can agree on. It’s the internal brokeness that keeps us apart these days. No lock down, no government mandate could keep us apart. Maybe technology difficulties or ignorance could. But we still had our phone and the mail did go through …eventually.
Isolation brings lonliness, misunderstanding and stunted growth emotionally and spiritually. Without “iron sharpening iron” we become dull, narrow minded, self-focused, bored and prejudice. It is through being with those in need or those who might not agree with you, working out through issues because you have to, rather than stagnating in one’s opinion that we grow and ultimately learn how to love.
Life does seem more simple alone and there are times when solitude are necessary for growth too, but eventually we need to get out of ourselves. I enjoyed the solitude but thanks to my many commitments I was compelled to continue with participating in my many communities. Now the divisions in the culture seem ever wider but I don’t feel isolated or defeated. We get together in our communities, with our foilbles, political views, different values, and perspectives and are able to find common ground. We influence eachother, grow in patience toward eachother, but most of all we not we are not alone without purpose. Relationship is existence.
But after shut down, our social muscles might be a little stiff. It might take some intentional flexing to find some sommunity. To inspire, I am sharing a couple of groups that have kept me going during the shut down, but also helped me keep a balanced perspective to social issues that are not as simple as our media would like us to believe. That is probably why my two groups I am featuring have to do with words. Words form and express ideas. They give us perspective, steps to solultions. They can inspire or depress. They can help create problems or help form solutions. It’s could to practice them in a safe community.
If you aspire to write or do already, and aren’t innodated with publishing opportunites yet, a writing group might be a next step for you. I joined the Blue Water’s Writers before I knew what they were called. I really didn’t know what a writing club was all about. It felt like jumping into a pool of deep water, not really knowing how well I could swim. Really, that is what it was for me, finding out if I could even write anymore. My grocery lists were not even legible, how could a paragraph be evaluated without some people who became friends. As a group we meet same time, same place. The setting is something we can count on. Many of us travel, some babysit, work or care for loved ones. Without that consistancy we would be less effective. We start with a little devotional that someone has written, then a designated leader leads us through our chapter of a book on writing and we close with readings. One can participate as much or as little as one wants but as with most things, the more you put in , the more you will get out of it.
My next community that inspires me is my bookclub. This particular club does not read the latest best seller. On the contrary most of our books are old from the 400’s up to 1990 or so. All of us have the desire to read books that we would not otherwise read but have made their mark on thinking, literature and even the history of our world. Many of them would be considered the most influentual books of Western Civilization. This group meets on Zoom now thanks to Covid and Michigan winters. We used to meet in homes and our scheduled was flexible. Consequently we don’t meet as often as we could but we have grown and been enriched. Some of the books we have read include: Moby Dick, Gulag Achipeligo, Confessions by Augustine and Meditations by DeCartes. Our book list comes from Susan Wise Bauer, author of the Well Educated Mind.
If a joining a group sounds like something you have intended on doing but haven’t yet and don’t know where to start, look to your local library. I know ours does have book discussions and writing groups that form. Soon and maybe even now fabric stores and crafts stores might advertise crafting nights or groups. Our college and career kids have an official board game night. Then for the more active the hiking and biking groups are a great way to get to know people. Sometimes the group just isn’t what you are looking for, that’s ok, move on but don’t give up.
My favorite and most stable of all communities is my family and my church. Location and season of life sometimes affective the vitality of these communities, but don’t give up. It helps to have habits for meeting and purpose, even with family sometimes. For us we have had to rely on the FaceTime for connecting at times but a regular time and even a list of questions to ask or something to share keep these times going. If you can meet in person, maybe it’s meal, walk, work project or just a weekly cup of coffee to touch down and stay connected.
Whatever it is, don’t go alone. Life is too short.
In the last year, thanks to the abscence of community, we all had time to think more community- what it was and wasn’t, if we had it or not, who we wanted in it or not, and did we even want it or not, and was it worth the risk.
The inconsistancies by politicians, health care workers, old people and young people became confusing, until it was all anyone could talk about to just get a feel. But the bottom line is that community is inevetible, even if it is your pet or just the opinion monger on the TV or internett – Relationship is existance.
But this isn’t a blog about MY opinion thoughts or actions about community, rather I hope it is an encouragement to enrich your community expereince if you live alone.
I have four entries exploring the idea and would enjoy any suggestions in the comments or even a plug for your blog – because that has been a new and inspirational community for me in this season.
I noticed as we attempted to stay safe and keep others safe that we got more creative and even more healthful in our community seeking. I went for walks more with friends and family more instead of meeting in coffee shops and sitting. Several times we found ourselves sitting at picnic tables in 40 degree weather for any hour with blankets around us.
At first we did not know how to visit my aging mother in law at the home, but we bit the bullet, arranged a weekly time, took blankets, folding chairs and hot cups of coffee in order to visit through the screen!Who cares if it wasn’t ideal, it gave her something to look forward to and it really ended up being an adventure. ( The irony is that despite all the precautions we took, she still died of Covid because the health care workers carried it in).
The children are told to “stay outside” to play with their friends. Ah, now those are words that we haven’t heard since before the video games came out! Our children’s playmates(and now my children’s children) are much easier to tolerate when they are playing hide and seek outdoors than in the living room!
My mother took her card table and folding chairs in her trunk to facilitate coffee with her friends outdoors.
My favorite was a group of old friends who took kerosene heaters and drove their scooters to the donut shop. Everyday in my home time you can see this gathering in the parking lot on Main Street!
Now that we are opening up again and all the luxuries of inside entertainment lure us away from the communities that we value don’t forget your real friends!
“Here are some books of poetry.” An unpretentious woman handed me two paperback books. I took them to be polite. I had not read or cared about poetry for years. My college literature classes had dissected the soul out of the beauty, but each time I opened these humble self-published volumes my eyes would fall on a little verse that spoke vlumes to my tired heart.
Dorothy’s poems are authentic songs of a soul to God. Take them for yourself. Savor the beauty of the soul’s song to the Sovereign Creator and Savior.
Grace is a Diamond
Grace is a diamond, shining bright
Against the backdrop of our night.
Grace is a star, a-twinking high
Far in the vastness of the sky.
But Grace is more, whose course does run
Across our world, a mighty sun
That warms and lighten all below
Wherever Mercy does bestow
Life where the deadness was before
For Pow'r has Might, but Grace has more.
Into Your Hands
Into Your hand, my faithful God, I place my broken heart.
My foes are fierce, and they have shot me with a fiery dart.
You know the truth of what I say and why this man does lie.
My God, deliver me, I pray, or else, Lord I may die.
Built Upon the Cornerstone
I am a little pebble, but You the Cornerstone.
Thoughfallen in my faith, You chose me for Your own.
Upon You built and founded, dependent on Your Grace
You placed me in my setting that I might see Your Face.
A tiny stone and worthless, and yet it pleased You well
To rescue me from darkness, redeem my soul from Hell.
Though now in current weakness, still muddy from the mine,
Eventually in Glory, I shall forever shine.
(These selections are taken from Dorothy Young’s book, Loved from Eternity.)
“Bruce was a bear who lived all by himself. ” “He was a grump.” Well, who isn’t when one lives for themselves. It’s not that Bruce’s aloneness made him grumpy but he only liked one thing: eggs to eat. His loneliness came from being a consumer.
Isn’t that how it goes? The more we grasp and grab the unhappier and emptier we become.
This little lesson isn’t told but with amusing content and intriguing illustrations it is shown.(It kept the grandkids entertained over the weekly virtual call.)
As the story goes Bruce’s egg find ends up hatching into four troublesome goslings. Ah..poor Bruce!” He becomes a victim of mistaken identity!” HE was now MAMA! Even when some parents want the role, the incessant cry “Mama!” can be disturbing and annoying with one sweet child much less four goslings!” We can empathize. Ah yes, another step as Bruce gives up his desires to take care of another’s need.
Well, practically speaking, Bruce could have munched up those annoying, demanding goslings and been done with it. He did think about it. However, the children’s fun story book would have turned into a horror story that would not have made the best seller list. No matter how progressive and tolerant we have become, anyone can see that avicide was beyond reasonable humaness, or ursine ( pertaining to a bear) in this case.
Bruce becomes Humane, even though he is still rather grumpy. He tries to return them to their home, but they came back to him. He goes through an anger phase, then he “makes the best of it.” I won’t spoil this. You must get this book and enjoy it yourself and if you have a “gosling” in your life, make the best of it and share it with them to. It will put a smile on your face to share something with someone else, no matter how small.
I am not sure if Ryan T. Higgins, the talented author and illustrator, meant for me to get so much out of his children book, but a good story is good because it has more than meets the eye. He does YouTubes on illustrating as well-something fun and new to investigate if you need a Covid pick-me-up.
Covid shut downs just started last March. Who would have thought we would still be shut down? Well I did not complete visualize it. January and February in Michigan might as well be a shut down. Actually, the shut down is a relief as we don’t have to go out on the roads so much. However, the cold and boredom that comes with gray skies can get one down. Here is my “go to” list for those gray days.
Things Not to do:
Watching the News
Things to do :
Plan a trip. Do your research. I prefer to get books and videos from the library rather than reading short articles on the computer screen, but it helps to get a little thumbnail overview from the computer before diving in. Look up the place you want to go on a map. Look up the flight options. What else do you need? Hotels, places to eat, things to do? Make a list with the options.
Read that book, that you have always wanted to read or that you did not- but then get a friend to join you. Right now our group is tackling Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn. It is the abridgement by Edward E Erickson, Jr. Yes, it’s a little heavy, but I am counting my blessings! I am also reading Celebration of Disciplines by Richard Foster, Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa Alcott and Isabella Graham by herself.
Call a friend.
Write a letter or card to someone in need. Write to someone you just want to, who you have not seen or talked to in a while.
Try a new recipe -if you like to cook
Go for a walk- no matter the weather. Yes, you can survive. As a rule, I don’t really like exercise or the cold, but am always glad after I go out-even if it is just to come in again.
Tackle one chore you keep putting off.
Learn something new: take it one step at a time. Blogging was a new thing for me and I’m still trying to figure it out. I have a friend who is learning to tap dance – and she is over 60. If it were not for Covid, we would be too busy racing around, chasing our tails in the same rut and would not feel the freedom to try something new.
Pick up a hobby: photography, piano, guitar, woodwork, sewing, craft, … At first it seems overwhelming, but I break things down into small goals with low expectations for outcomes. For knitting, I told myself, just one row a day and I have managed to complete three to four projects a year. Not a lot, but satisfying. I, also, use friends, instruction books and YouTube for help when I get stuck.
Re-decorate or rearrange a room or space, whether it is the mancave or sewing room, maybe just a nook that is usually overlooked.
Take time to just sit and look out at nature, whether it be morning or evening.
In the midst of the chaos of our times and the histrionics of our media, I have turned to the Word of God for stability and distraction.
Many of us interact with Scripture in ways to impress it to our hearts and heads. Some memorize. Some rewrite it in language of today. Others, most talented in my view, turn God’s poetry into poetry for their hearts. I have such a friend. I do not know her very well but she has the gift of writing her heart into poetry. Many times she turns scripture into poetry to minister to her heart and ours as well. Her name is D. E. Young. She has written and published two books of her poetry. Ms. Young prefaces her first collection In Joy and In Sorrow with these words: The Christian in affliction should not think that he is the first of the Lord’s people to pass this way…It is my hope and prayer that this volume with be an encouragement to the Lord’s people…” Her next book, published in 2017 is called Loved from Eternity. Her pastor recommends this volume with these words: I urge to listen for His voice speaking in these faith-offerings composed for the sake of His bride, the church. May you know that He fills those who have been emptied.”
The poem from Ms. Young that I share today is one that she wrote recently in light of the turmoil we have all been witnessing in the United States. Knowing that we in the US have truly experienced unprecedented ease of millenials, we hardly know what to do or how to think when things don’t quite go our way. May these words redirect our focus and reorder our affections.
From Psalm 2
Though rulers, newly risen
Against the Heavens rage,
And seek to cast off Heaven's rule
They cannot disengage
Or thrwart His hand or ward it off,
Who laughs at them in Might.
For God has set His Son, the King
Upon the highest height,
And from that Throne, He rules all things,
Both those that are His own
And those that He will yet destroy,
For to Him, they're unknown
So strut in vain, you little men,
Against the King, you can not win:
But rather seek His favor now
And humbly boy to Him again.
(January 21, 2021)