Ecclesiastes 3:10 –I have thought about this in connection with all the various kinds of work God has given to mankind.
When the envelope arrived in the mail, my name as the recipient was hand-written on the front. This was enough to intrigue me and encourage me to rip it open right away.
Inside, I found this simply delightful little gift.
It was from a friend. Someone I met a few years ago. A person with whom I instantly connected in the first time that we met. She has a beautiful soul that bubbles with laughter and tears and smiles and hugs all in the very same sentence.
For over two months, she has not been working. I’ve ran into her a couple times at the post office and we pretend to hug and share a few words. I’m optimistic that there will soon be a day when we can have a real conversation and giggle and share those things that often are left unspoken.
It was after one of those chance meetings at the post office that the envelope showed up at my house. With this bookmark and a little hand-written message inside. Here’s what it says:
Please accept this small gift as a gentle reminder that we are all connected. By creating a large picture and cutting it into bookmarks, I am reminded of the bigger picture – connection. By the separation and decoration, I am reminded we each have our own beauty to share. When we are all pieced together, we participate in the bigger picture.
All I can say is this: Amen.
What a beautiful, beautiful story. My friend paints a picture. Then, she cuts the picture into bookmarks and sends them to folks with a little message that says your bookmark is part of a larger picture. Likewise, your soul, your heart is part of a larger picture as well.
In these days of social distancing and continued limited contact, do we not need to hear that we ARE connected? Part of the large picture? Have our own beauty to share?
God’s picture is SO. MUCH. BIGGER. Then our picture. How God sees us fitting into this picture may be different from what we see. God gifts us with incredibly unique and special gifts. Our role is to discover those gifts and then leverage them for the glory and honor of God’s kingdom.
Just like my friend did. When she put her pictures into bookmarks for others to enjoy.
How I would love to know what the rest of the photo looked like. But I don’t. Instead, I relish the details, the colors and unique character of the little piece I have been entrusted with. Thanks be to God.
For connections beyond ourselves, I am grateful.
Dear God – Thank you for helping orchestrate special connections with other people in my life. When I struggle to see exactly how I fit in, give me glimpses of the large photo so I can be comfortable in knowing that my sliver is part of a much bigger and totally beautiful painting, crafter by You. Amen.
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Ephesians 1:18:My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people.
When 2020 began, I challenged myself to pause at the end of each month and reflect upon little things that I discovered or rediscovered or relearned in the previous month.
I was doing so good. And then, COVID-19 happened. Somehow, this little exercise got lost the end of March. So today, I offer up a plate of little ideas that have been muddling through my brain this past period of time. As you read through the things that I have discovered/rediscovered/relearned, think about what your growing edges have been these past few weeks.
The most Captain Obvious statement I could make: the entire world has shifted in the last 60 days because of something we call COVID-19. We can talk about 100-year floods and 9.11 and tsunami’s and the Great Recession as life-changing events. And they were. Yet, it’s a pesky, lethal, infectious virus that will be the defining life event for many of us.
What’s different about COVID-19? It doesn’t discriminate based on geography, age, socio-economic and a whole host of other reasons. Yes, certain people groups are more susceptible. Yet, it has caused disruption into EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. WE. KNOW. Our friends who live outside the United States. Those who are discovering how to help home school their children. Our high-risk neighbors who must be oh, so careful about who they expose themselves to. Our front-line workers whose essential occupations should never be taken for granted again.
The impact is life-changing and never ending. We’re watching our food chains become terribly displaced and challenged beyond belief. Our country which is often touted as having the best healthcare in the world as experienced more positive cases and deaths than anywhere else in the world. More Americans have died from COVID-19 than during the Vietnam war.
Shortly after this crisis was declared a pandemic, Hubby Rick shared with our grandkids that they would be living through an event that will forever change their lives. I do not believe his statement was overstated and probably understated. This is the event by which all other crisis will be defined.
My Aunt Beverly lives in Denver, CO. She will be 90 in July. Aunt Bev lives in a care facility. Since March 8, she has been able to leave her room only once a day, for the sole purpose of walking down to get her mail. Otherwise, she eats every meal in her room. Her only “visitors” are the facility’s staff. Recently, she wrote me this:
“It is so difficult being in our rooms all the time. They even bring own meals to us ‘at home.’ I’m so weary of being cooped up. I’ve lived through world wars and lots of other events, but this pandemic is the worst.”
We have our own stories and interpretations of how this pandemic has affected us. The lens through which we process this virus is most often based upon where we are affected the most. These stories are oh, so different. The story of an exhausted nurse treating COVID-19 patients is not the same as a dairy farmer who is dumping milk because processing chains couldn’t shift fast enough. Small business owners hoping to reopen their life’s passions are as important as the creative means by which teachers are educating from afar. And the list goes on and on and on …
Crisis have the opportunity to pull out the best within ourselves … if we make this choice. I pray that we all choose to do all the good we can today and tomorrow and the next day as we journey through this time together.
All those things we “thought” were so important? Well, they’ve been put on “hold.” For some, these things are huge disappointments. No graduation ceremony. Missing your high school prom. Sporting events and birthday parties and confirmation celebrations and delayed weddings. The list is long, deep and difficult.
Some people feel terribly “robbed” of these benchmark times in their lives, as they should. The grief and disappointment are real. It is not to be minimized.
Yet, somehow, we’ve reclaimed some things that were too often lost in the shuffle. Eating meals together. Cooking at home. Time to play games and have real conversations. There has been more dog walking and people walking outside than in years. Our neighbors and Hubby Rick have been working on our lawns for weeks. Some of us have rediscovered the art of real phone calls and sending cards and letters. These are all good things. I pray we remember these are special opportunities and times which should continue beyond stay-in-place orders.
Most of us truly are all old dogs learning some new tricks these days, including myself. Online meeting platforms are getting heavy workouts these days. Artists desperate to uplift and encourage folks are collaborating and creating content in new and different ways. We’re worshiping in new ways, visiting the doctor virtually and depending upon curbside pick-up like never before. The latest fashion statement is a mask, often styled to express our passions and interests.
How will all of this translate tomorrow and next week and next month as we eventually begin moving towards our previous lives? I’m confident there will become new definitions and expressions of “normal” in our lives. We have unique opportunities to embrace ideas and concepts that previously were considered too sacred to change. This will be scary for many people and warmly embraced by others. I pray we embrace grace and compassion as we navigate new “norms” in our lives.
What lessons have you discovered about yourself in these last weeks? Where do you find yourself cautious about timid versus anxious and stressed? I pray that we see this time as important. Necessary. Potentially life changing. A time to lean into our faith and be guided by the One who loves us, cares for us and journeys with us. Amen.
For life lessons that keep challenging us, I am grateful.
Dear God – Some of us embrace new and different things openly. Others, only kick and scream. May we have open hearts to hear the lessons and stories that you long for us to observe and hear. May we embrace grace and compassion as we journey through this time together. Amen.
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