Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
My dog is obsessed with the chipmunks living under the deck. He whines and barks at them through the window as they run and play, stopping to munch on a nut or vegetation right in front of the glass door. Just two or three feet and a glass pane separate him from his nemesis. Once I let him out for his relief breaks he runs from burrow to burrow, sometimes forgetting why he was let out. Then he comes inside and realizes he needs to go out. All day he paces, whines and cries and nothing I do distracts him from those chipmunks. He is obsessed and cannot focus on anything else.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that we too can become obsessed with things. In fact, like those chipmunks in the window, we are also distracted. Everywhere you turn there are commercials, radio advertising, billboards, emails, news reports and the topic of every conversation you take part in. The Covid-19 situation is on the forefront of every communication. Stirring up fear, worry and questions. We spend a lot of time pacing and trying to figure out what will happen next.
I have begun limiting my exposure to Covid-19 reports, articles and news. Some would say this is not prudent. However, I disagree. I am not sticking my head in the sand, instead I am controlling what I expose myself to. It is true we need to know what is going on in our communities, governments and the world, but there is a limit. Instead of subsisting on a continual buffet of Covid reports, information and speculation, we should limit how much time we spend reading and submerging ourselves in the ongoing situation. I know that is not easy, you cannot listen to the radio or watch TV without every commercial being about the Covid 19 virus, but you have the power to choose what and how much you digest. Do not allow yourself to be distracted to the point of neglecting yourself. This constant exposure can intensify fear, loneliness, depression and aggression. Enjoy time with family, make time for study and prayer, enjoy a good meal or take a walk. You have the power to limit your exposure and protect yourself.
I put curtains up on the door and Bryan is much calmer. He still knows the chipmunks are there and checks out the burrows every time we go out, but he is not obsessed anymore because the constant stimuli has been curtailed.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 ESV
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I passed through the doorway into a darkened room. The walls were black and blank. In the center was a cylinder, I passed through it as I explored the dimly lit warehouse space. Large wooden spools were spaced throughout, my daughter and I found one and waited. As we waited more people began to filter through the door, some like us found seats some milled around. Time passed and the room and mezzanine filled with people. The lights dimmed and darkness crowded around us. Silence hung motionless as we all waited. Then a blast of music gave me a jolt and brilliant light exploded on the walls. Before me, Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpieces were built and tore down to the music. The music, like Van Gogh’s work was chaos, a collection of different genres, rock to classical meshed with images of his paintings. Oceans morphed to wheat fields and sun flowers bled into the starry night.
Van Gogh has always been my favorite artist. He is my favorite because he takes chaos of colors and frenzied brushstrokes and creates beauty.
Many years ago, my life was chaos, a roller coaster of emotions, disappointments and depression. However, once I stopped fighting it and relinquished it to Jesus, the chaos that made me feel like I was orbiting earth without a tether, slowed. Jesus reached into the chaos of my life and it made it beautiful. That is what Jesus does once you give him control, he takes the crazy, the depression, the pain, the fear, anxiety, worry, guilt and shame and he makes it beautiful. That chaos is now a tapestry of beauty.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 ESV
The lush green moss provided a comfortable bed for me to stretch out. I bit into the firm white flesh of the pear, juice sweet and sticky escaped, trickling down my chin. Through the limbs of the walnut tree, I watched whisp of white float on an unseen current across the summer sky. Only the sound of an occasional car broke the steady hum of the insects busy at work. My grandmother sat on her milking stool, peeling pears, and apples for a pie. The sun had risen high glaring down on us and chased us out of the garden and into the cool shade of the ancient walnut, who’s limbs grazed the ground, bent by the clusters of nuts. She spoke as she made long curls of peel that hit the aluminum pan with a thud, telling us stories of her time in California during the Second World War. Tales of the tenants in their boarding house. Stories of lemon and orange trees at the back steps of the house. Nights filled with laughter and dancing as they clung to that moment, never knowing if the next would come. My eyes grew big as she told us about sitting around the radio and listening to the war reports, the fear, the wonder, will the enemy touch our shores. As the clouds lazily floated past her stories formed on the stage of my mind.
I loved those afternoons under the walnut tree, barefoot, wearing tank tops and shorts. The cool of the moss, the sweet fruit, and the smell of clean air. That hour or two that we escaped the heat and hid in the hazy shadows.
Life is fleeting, busy, stressful, meaningful, and at times seems meaningless, and we have a way of getting caught in that spiral. We all have schedules and deadlines; however, do not forget to take pleasure in what God has given you. As Solomon tells us, we were created to enjoy food, drink, each other and our jobs. God has provided many things for us to enjoy, do not allow yourself to get caught up in the spiral of deadlines, schedules, and worries. Take the time to enjoy the summer fruit.