Faith / Family / Ordinary Life
So much has been written about the pandemic, much of it wise. I wondered why add my own? So, here are quotes from others that have encouraged me.
When the Black Plague reached Wittenberg, where Martin Luther lived and worked, he had this to say:
I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person, but will go freely.
The word rang in our ears as we read the email. Since all flights had been suspended into and out of Nepal, the US Embassy had organized two evacuation flights for US citizens … and also a warning for those who would remain. There would be no guarantee of future flights. Prepare to remain in Nepal indefinitely.
That was not the word we wanted to hear. As middle class Americans we are accustomed to have the power to choose and to manage. We are accustomed to feelings of control. But, along with many of you, the coronavirus pandemic has revealed a truth that is quite uncomfortable. We are—in fact—quite small, weak, and broken.
… The anxiety and fear that this global pandemic has unearthed in me is an ugly reminder of my own functional unbelief. And I’m sorry for that.
But to be shown the depth of my need for Jesus is a gift. To be confronted with my dependence on the middle class American idols of choice, management, and control is a grace. To hold out my empty hands to receive all things in Christ is an unshakeable treasure.
– Phillip and Missy Jenson live and work in Nepal
Kiss the Wave
How long until all is well? Can we keep our heads above water for another day? Another month? … Will we go under? Will our lives be shipwrecked; our futures dashed before we’re rescued?
Spurgeon was a beloved British minister in the late 1800s who preached to over ten million(!) people in his lifetime. In addition to his indefatigable preaching, he also published thousands of sermons and established multiple orphanages for boys and girls.
But he also suffered from severe depression for much of his life, with frequent thoughts of suicide. He was well acquainted with the drowning nature of despair, and he knew full well what it meant for all things not to be well.
At age twenty-two, Spurgeon was a pastor of a large church and the father of a young family. One day as he preached to thousands in a large Music Hall, pranksters yelled “fire!” and started a mass panic for the exits. Seven people were killed; trampled to death, and twenty-eight were severely injured. Spurgeon’s mind was never the same again.
His wife later wrote, “My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared he will never preach again.”
And yet, here is what Spurgeon said after many years of living, day by day, in the darkest waters of depression: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages. … The people of God are not exempt from the waves of this world. We aren’t immune to all that threatens to break our fragile bodies and tender spirits. But the people of God know that whatever causes us to cling to the Rock of Ages is for the well-being of their eternal souls. In whom will we trust in the deep?
Even today, as reason seems to totter in her throne, can we learn to welcome the waves that throw us against the Rock of Ages?
No depth; no storm; no shipwreck; no world-wide tsunami wave can ever separate you from the One who rescued you, keeps you, and even now, is making all things well.
– Kim blogs at givenbreath.com
It’s good to be reminded we must all live in the ordinary space right before us even in the midst of the waves that wash over us daily. Life goes on. In new ways for sure, with schools cancelled and working from home mandatory. These are some of the ordinary, mundane details of life at The House Between where we daily witness the hand of God in small ways.
Our Tennessee family was planning to move to Minnesota by June 1st. Now what? Nothing is certain. Expecting them by June, I ordered a full CSA share rather than our normal half. What will I do with all that kale if they don’t make it?
A friend sent a recipe from The Pioneer Woman. Her cinnamon rolls with glaze makes 9 pans full! Too much even for a carb lover like me. Reduced, it made 3 pans. Gave two away. One to our next door neighbors who have 3 kids. One has pneumonia. The other 2 and the dad quickly followed with Covid19 symptoms. Was it? It seems likely. Without testing, no one knows. Denis left a pan of tender, warm rolls on their door step.
Virtual church this morning. Being together virtually is good, but we miss the real. Our pastor has been sick with a cough and fever for two weeks. Scary. Denis and I prayed a long time. So many to remember and hope for.
Day 16 of isolation. Beautiful, sunny, warm. Hard to believe we’re in a global crisis. Couldn’t focus on writing. Changed a few sentences. Gave up. Went out to do yard cleanup. The hydrangeas still have last year’s blossoms hanging brown and crisp. Dry stalks poking up thick as a forest. Filled a giant bag with waste and dumped it down the ravine.
Must curtail reading the news. Not helping attitude.
Cooking is my creative outlet right now. No, wait. It’s always been. Somehow more satisfying these days because the rhythms are familiar and soothing. Thawed a 2 pound package of ground venison. It’s very lean; my brother adds a little bacon to it. Made an interesting pasta sauce. I liked it. Lots left over. Will freeze and give away.
Anita and her nephew Michael came over this afternoon. I have shitake mushroom plugs. She drilled holes in a dead tree, shoved in the plugs, sealed them with red wax. Hopefully, the spores will produce a crop of mushrooms later this year. They couldn’t come inside, so we talked through the garage door. Hard not to hug them. They were heating soup on a camp stove and gobbling cinnamon rolls for lunch. They ate all but two—and planned to finish those off on the way home.
Every morning cardinals sing outside our bedroom window. Loud praises. Denis says they’re threats, not praise.
Friends from New York sent a cookbook. Ottolenghi Simple. Sorry. Never heard of him. But it looks fabulous. I’m craving vegetables and fruit which we are out of.
Denis and I had a little disagreement. I can’t remember what it was about. But it included 10 hours of social and emotional distancing. All better now. We can’t afford to do this. Not in these times. These times? I guess no time is a good time to fight with your spouse.
Last night Denis looked at my pill box and said “You know you’re old when you envy your wife’s new vitamin pill box.
April 1 Fool’s Day
I thought of playing a trick on Denis but in these days of uncertainty, I decided it would be too mean. Playing tricks doesn’t seem appropriate this year. I mean, for now. That we have a winter storm warning is tricky enough.
I was about to store our snow shovels. Good thing I didn’t. Six inches of snow last night. What?! It won’t stay long, but still.
The tulips planted last fall are poking up. I lost my mind and bought 300 bulbs. Yesterday I saw deer tracks in the flower beds. They have nibbled the rising iris and severed the tulip tips. Rabbits are lurking out there, too. I used to think how darling they were leaping and cavorting through the yard until I learned that is their mating ritual.
I talked Denis into playing UpWords with me. He occasionally consents even though I beat him every time. He says it wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t think it was funny. We’ve been reading aloud to each other for a break from binge-watching Netflix.
Today I made a pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Big mistake! Now I can’t stop thinking about it sitting on the counter. I’ve already had two pieces. Need to do something about this.
Later. Gave a quarter of it to Anita. Took the rest to friends nearby. Left it on the porch and rang the doorbell. A cake hit and run. It’s nice they liked it, but it’s a gift to spare me.
Discovered a mallard made a nest in a sheltered spot next to our garage. I was watering the peonies which are popping through the ground. When I reached the last one a sudden movement startled me when a frightened duck flew away. There beneath the rose trellis were 8 pale green eggs. What a gift! Thanks to God for such unexpected beauty.
A crew arrived to dethatch our lawn with big noisy machines. I worried the whole time for our mama duck. (We’ve named her Corona.) She’d already had a bad day when 5 rude males arrived and chased her down the hill. Now this. She was gone. Perhaps for good?
Corona is back! She’s been sitting on her nest since early morning when I peeked around the corner. I think she may be brooding now. It will take 28 days to hatch her eggs. She only leaves the nest a few times a day for a short while to eat.
The interesting thing about ducks—all birds, I guess—she lays one egg a day. Remarkably, they will not begin to “germinate” until she sits on them to brood. That way the babies all hatch on the same day. Perhaps around May 20th. Who taught them that?
I’m getting closer to finishing “No Place” my manuscript of our wandering years. Because we lived in New Mexico during that time I learned to love Mexican food so am including a few recipes in the book. Last night I made Green Chile Stew to make sure I had the proportions right. When I finished Denis looked at the huge pot and asked was I expecting company? I hadn’t thought of that. Now what?
Our Chattanooga family has been waiting for a decision. Shaun interviewed for an art teacher position in a high school. This is so hard.
Shaun got the job! So exciting! If in December they hadn’t pulled the trigger on moving, this wouldn’t be happening. A local friend moved across town due to decisions made before Covid19. She called it crazy stupid to move during this time. What do we call moving across country? Only with God’s help.
It’s hard to practically love friends and neighbors while in isolation. I had a virtual appointment with my R.A. and asked if my medications made me THAT immunosuppressed. “Yes, they do” was the unhappy answer. Denis is my gatekeeper. I chafe, but it’s probably wise since I like risk taking.
Since cooking is a favorite pastimes perhaps that could spread a little cheer. Denis helping, last Saturday—another batch of cinnamon rolls went out. Did I mention the glaze is a maple syrup espresso coffee concoction?! We journeyed around and dropped them off with friends. It was a beautiful, warm day and stopping to chat at a safe distance was life-giving.
One more piece needs to fall into place for Shaun’s teaching job. He must be certified to teach in Minnesota. That office is backlogged. Wait. Wait. So stressful.
The certification office says it will take 90 days to process Shaun’s file. By then it will be too late. The school must move on to other candidates. We are devastated. For them. We hold out hands to God. What’s His plan now?”
Denis had a brilliant idea and ordered toilet paper from Office Max. Problem: smallest amount is box of 80 rolls. When they arrived today, he pumped his fist and shouted, “Honey, I’ve killed a wooly mammoth and brought it home to you.” Wonderful. We won’t need more until 2025.
Until then, Amen.
And Finally there is this:
Time to Laugh
It seems important to laugh during these times. Laughter is restorative, it helps us breathe and loosens tension. We are finding ways of keeping a sense of humor—not from nasty jokes and cheap tricks, but reflections of intelligent wit and open-heartedness sometimes coupled with a bit of irony.
Denis shares tweets he knows would make me laugh.
Me, one year ago: If I had a week with nowhere to go and nothing to do this house would be organized neat and clean.
Me, today: Nope. Not the problem.
The pandemic hasn’t affected me at all. Is anyone else up to six meals a day?
Homeschooling update: one child expelled, one suspended, one teacher fired for drinking on the job.
I’m rereading Brian Doyle’s Book of Uncommon Prayer. Funny, touching, and terribly current.
Ann Lamott—rereading Bird by Bird. She forces me to recognize myself and it makes me laugh. Speaking of great writers who make a lot of money—“not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do.)”
Lord, help us trust you in days of trouble, and rejoice in all things, well, almost all. Am working on it.
Photo: Before Corona’s eggs were broken and destroyed.