Cogitation 14 Friday 3 April 2020 By definition, waiting means staying in one place in expectation of something. What Marty and I have been waiting for is about to happen. We’re booked to travel from the UK to the US on Sunday and Monday, April 5 and 6. In hope and prayer, we await travel that will fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. An estimated 400,000 Brits are still trying to return to the UK from around the world. We join people everywhere in heart-bracingly awaiting the moment when we cross the threshold of home.
Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” I’m still coming to terms with that verse. I have yet to replace the disquietude of these days with being present in the moment, of being quiet before God. I want to jump to the next thing, with shoulders full of care, be in control, work out solutions, help God, as it were, rather than live in the promise, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.” Psalm 55:22.
In Pastor Ponderings 3/25, Wanda Roth Amstutz, pastor of Cassel Mennonite Church, rural Tavistock, Ontario, the area where I grew up, opened with these words: “Psalm 46 has come to my mind over these last few days: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’ These words take on new meaning for us in these days. The psalm ends with ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ In times when our anxiety can get the better of us, let us try to remember these words and take them to heart. Our God is our refuge–our God is bigger that our fears and anything the future might hold. . . . My prayer is that this time of suffering will give us all a renewed sense of God’s presence in our lives and that we carry forward a great love for God and all humanity.”
From the Diocese of Truro April 2020 monthly newsletter, I quote Revd Canon Simon Cade, acting Diocesan secretary: “As we lock things up and close things down, God unlocks and unfolds a new future and is faithful in love.”
The lead article in the newsletter is by The Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, a Bishop of Truro, title, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
A brief quote: “For people of Christian faith there are few words that are more familiar and more secure that feel more ‘at home’ for us than the words of Psalm 23: words that proclaim with confident assurance that the Lord is our Shepherd. And yet for all that they are familiar words to us I do think that they have special resonance and extra depth in this current crisis that we face.”
The psalm reminds us of four things, Bishop Philip wrote, 1. The Lord is a Shepherd. 2. The Lord is my Shepherd. 3. The Lord being our Shepherd does not prevent us from walking in the dark valley; because God walks with us, we need fear no evil. 4. “And then finally the Lord being our Shepherd reminds us that better things await us.”
Friend Doreen Sullivan spoke for many in her email: “Whatever the future brings I pray we all know and constantly recall God is with us always and we are never alone. Safe travelling, and do please come back.”
British Summer Time began at 1 pm Sunday 29 March when clocks went forward one hour. On Sunday, I jotted down things for which I’m grateful right now. I’m grateful for:
- Words of worship from various online sources here and in North America.
- Messages shared with family and friends.
- The reminder that one should limit news consumption to morning and evening blocks, and a brief look at trusted online sources.
- The dedicated efforts of frontline and behind the scenes workers who are caring for people ill with Covid-19, as well as volunteers organized to look out for people in their neighbourhoods.
- The felt presence of love and care, the prayers, of people thousands of miles as well as two metres away.
- Connection with the natural world in a daily walk, the friendly wave or smile of people we pass, all at prescribed distance. The spectacle of spring in birds singing, shrubs blooming, smell of newly cut grass, the coconut aroma of gorse, the whip and whiff of sea breeze.
- A sense of place in Lighthouse View, the flat we’ve rented. It’s a good place, a safe place, a comfortable place, a view of Godrey Lighthouse place, a harbouring place.
- A pepperoni pizza, (cool) cucumber slices, raspberry ripple ice cream for tea, aka supper.
- A shop, the Costcutter, closer at hand than Tesco, where we can pick up items, too.
- TV programs such as CountryFile (7 pm today) that promotes farming, gardening, environmental initiatives and fun in harmony with nature (filmed before the country’s lockdown).
- Seeing the large wooden cross placed at an entrance to St Anta & All Saints Church.
- Another day of grace.
Quieting mind and spirit
My mind and spirit are quieted by words of and from scripture, expressions of care and prayer from family and friends, the multitude of heros scrambling to get ahead of the curve of Covid-19, and this Celtic Benediction:
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you. AmenFrom a Lenten guide by the Atlantic Coast Cluster of Churches in the Diocese of Truro.
Glimpses of the week
Thoughts on life’s journey and home
Leisure was written by Welsh poet William Henry Davies, born in 1871. It was published in 1911. Davies’ life entailed much travel as a tramp or hobo. From 1893-1899 he tramped across the US. George Bernard Shaw wrote the preface to Davies’ work, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp. His works are based on his experiences, featuring characters he met along the way as well as an expression of his love of nature. He married after he moved to London, at home among transients and literary society. He died in London in 1940.
“WHAT is this life if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare?” Davies’ words may just help us see the times we’re in in a fresh way. With life as usual at a standstill, rife with care, we can do well to spend some moments just to “stand and stare.”
In an earlier blog, Quest to find home (January 11, 2020), I wrote, “The quest to find home in a new community means transitioning to a new familiar, establishing new routines, welcoming the new/old of daily life. Also, remembering old connections.” In late 2018 we moved from our home of 42 years to an independent living home in a continuing care retirement community in a nearby city. Doable, a wise move, subject to adjustments, settling in, of course.
I also commented on a book, Walking Home, by Lynda L. Wilson. The book deals with physical. quest, but also soul-searching and coming to terms with the past. The larger import of the book, I wrote, “Of course, it has everything to do with continuing to be at home on the trail, in the middle of Creation, mindful of the holy, the place in which wonder and relationship flourish, where the present unfolds like a wish come true.”
Individuals and families are finding creative ways to bring cheer to neighbours near and far. One family, who posted a video of their rendition of a song they adapted from Les Miserables, have been featured on BBC Breakfast twice. They have been encouraged to do one more song.
In another community, two sisters organized a Teddy Bear in the Window campaign, whereby families on their daily walk would look for the teddies in the windows.
A 94-year-old man, Harry, a veteran, had been accustomed to be out every day to raise funds for his favourite charity. He told BBC Breakfast that he misses not being out among people, but he’s doing fine by himself. “If you can’t live with yourself, you can’t live with anybody,” he said.
May we find one and many new ways to build, and not harm, home in the global village, that all life may flourish. Peace to your home. Safety and joy in all you do and all you meet on your journey. Hope for the world.