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Posts Tagged ‘#pandemic’

Hubby and I got to enjoy a meal, in a restaurant recently. What a joy it was to be seated at a table (indoors) and to have our meal served to us. We were also particularly impressed with how the restaurant had pivoted when indoor dining had been banned. They utilized one of their parking areas for covered seating which looked fantastic. In speaking with the owner, we learned that this outdoor seating was not going away, but has helped them to birth the idea of how to make this extra outdoor seating permanent and incorporated into their indoor seating. The owner said, “we had a choice, to curl up in a ball and cry or to think creatively. We chose to think creatively.”

It makes one think of the proverb, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

This pandemic year plus has been one of lemons … cases of lemons.

There is much that has been lost, missed. There have been sorrows, injustices and forced alterations to our lives.

There have also been discoveries, innovations and creativity that have been stirred into the mix.

Poet Mary Oliver said, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Wild, indicating the the unpredictability of our days. Precious, reminding us of the value of our life, our days.

John 10:10 tells us :

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

That is a verse about lemons. It is a verse that reminds us of how loved we mere mortals are, by the one who gives us breath.

Because sin (lemons) entered into our human DNA in the Garden, through the disobedience of man, we needed saving. Through the very son of God, whose willing death paid the price of that sin, we have been redeemed, made new. God could have left us as we were, but his love for us was too great for that.

Life delivers lemons … right to our doors. But we have been given the example of making something good, better out of what we are handed. What will we do with this pandemic (and the struggles and losses that have accompanied it)? What will we do with the other tough stuff, the sour stuff that enters into our days? Will we curl up in a ball and cry, or will we get creative, adding to the sour to create something sweet?

What will we do with this wild and precious life?

“I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

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Today I will be getting my first vaccination for Covid and I feel a bit like a kid at Christmas.

I have been telling people the vaccination is my ticket to travel again … but you don’t have to think exotic places, for I just want to be able to fly to the other coast of Canada to see my family (especially my mom who has experienced this Covid year largely alone).

But, this vaccination is more than just that for me.

It is also an exhale from deep in my lungs … like I have been holding my breath for over a year, as we have two daughters with a chronic health disease that requires being on a medication that can lower the body’s ability to fight off an infection … aka a greater possibility of being extremely sick (or death) if they acquire Covid. Though we are cautious and following guidelines from public health, it has been a yearlong concern that we might acquire then pass the virus on to one of them.

This has been a constant concern for the past year.

Added to that have been the glib perspectives that I have had to encounter from those who feel the whole Covid thing is a world-wide government plot, or that it is “just like the flu”, or “enough already with the shutdowns and closures”.

Most of the time I file such perspectives as arrogant, thoughtless or simply idiotic … a couple of times my inner momma hen has verbally pecked the one whose words cut so close to this momma’s heart … most of the time, I just try to ignore and pray they don’t ever have to be in the position I am in, as a mom, feeling such concern for their own kids.

Each wave of Covid has literally felt like a punch to the gut, as I check in with them, ask about their job safety and find myself on my knees on their behalf.

So, today, I get to roll up my sleeve and I consider myself privileged, blessed, thankful. One step closer to being in a position where I will not share this virus with my girls (or anyone else).

And exhale from deep in my lungs.

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Though it was a pickup line by the character Joey, in the television show Friends, how you doin? is a most perfect question for these pandemic days.

We need to ask and be given space to share our experience of these days … the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the past year, I have had many experiences of asking this question to people, often inserting really into the question (how you really doin?) and it has been asked of me, as well. I think we all acknowledge (no matter our perspectives on the pandemic and how it is being handled, that we are living in a time of an alternate normal and that reality has to take a tole on us.

But, there is more.

These questions are opportunities to share the hope that God gives in our lives. Not a Pollyanna hope, sugar-coating our sorrow, struggle and confusion, but hope that exists in the midst of the struggle. A hope that exists while tears are falling down our cheeks. A hope that exists in the One that will never leave us … even when we are in the pits of sadness.

” … you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”
1 Peter 3:15

So, prepare for the question … how you doin? … and yes, share the dark and twisty times you might be going through, but share the hope of Christ in your life as well. For the world around us needs to know of Him and of the peace that He brings.

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One of the words, opposite joy, is despair. When I think of despair, I think hopeless, lacking in peace.

It is interesting that today, this third Sunday of advent, we focus on joy, following peace and hope. Perhaps it is because we, our lives, are absent of joy if we have not received the hope and peace that only Christ can give?

Joy is not just a product of hope and peace, joy is, much like those, a choice.

Psalm 71:23 says, “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.” Notice first section, “my lips will shout for joy” … it is a statement of dedication, determination. The Psalmist is committing, vowing that whatever befalls he will shout for joy. He is making a choice. Charles Spurgeon has said of this Psalm, “this Psalm may be regarded as the utterance of struggling, but unstaggering, faith.”

Anyone out there struggling right now? We are in a pandemic people … we are ALL struggling with something in this time in our lives, in the history that is presently being written. We all have struggles that challenge our hearts and souls (and bodies). This is our current, common human experience.

But …

if we can look to the source of hope and peace,

if we can choose, by our will and our unstaggering (well … most of the time) faith to force joy from our lips … it WILL COME BACK TO OUR SOULS!

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). It is new every morning (Psalm 30:5). The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Angels experience joy when one person repents (Luke 15:10). We should eat and drink with a merry (joyful) heart (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

Rejoice always, 
pray without ceasing, 
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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Advent arrived this weekend … with hope as it’s theme.

I had intentions this weekend. Intentions to haul out the Christmas decorations, to stand the tree in the window to declare to our neighbors that we are celebrating.

It didn’t happen. Other things happened, errands, grocery shopping, chores, but mostly I sat on my behind, watching too much TV and going to bed early.

I find I am so … weary.

I think this Christmas season we are all weary. Though this pandemic may not have touched most of us directly with illness or the death of a loved one, we are all feeling the effects of isolation, withdrawal from social activities and an almost palpable tension in the air.

Then, this morning, I read quote, that a friend had posted :

“As my prayer become more attentive and inward, I had less and less to say. I finally became completely silent. I started to listen. I first thought that praying entailed speaking. I then learnt that praying is hearing, not merely being silent. This is how it is. To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking, Prayer involves becoming silent, And waiting until God is heard.”

Søren Kierkegaard

And I found myself wondering … what if, rather than just be weary, lifeless and silent … what if I listened? What if we listened in the silence, until a still small voice cries out in our pandemic desert? What if, rather than succumb to weariness and apathy, what if we listen for the one who gives us reason to rejoice, to hope?

It is not trees, and concerts, and parties, and gift exchanges, and church services that are the reason for the season … HE is the reason that our weary world can rejoice, can have hope!

Perhaps we need to fall on our knees … and hear.

… the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine

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Approximately one hundred and sixty years ago, Emily Dickinson wrote a poem illustrating hope as a bird.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -



And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -



I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet - never - in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of me.

This metaphorical description of hope is as “the thing with feathers”, a “little bird” whose song is heard sweetest in the midst of the storms of life.

It is one of Dickinson’s most popular poems and I expect it is because the truth of her descriptive words resonate in the hearts of those who read it.

Hope … that ethereal quality that is available to us all, that gives sustenance to unfed souls, that keeps us vertical when we think we might drop and that never asks anything in return.

The apostle Paul said, “hope is as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19) and that it “does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5).

Today, this first Sunday of Advent, 2020, we need this hope. We need to be reminded that it flutters all around (and even, in) us. It will not disappoint. And this year, this pandemic year, hope is sweeter than ever.

In the book of Isaiah (40:31), is another feathery metaphor of hope :

“those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

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This season of our lives, this Covid pandemic, in so many ways is surreal. Many of us continue our work, school,  lives as always, just at home. Yet, there is this invisible cloud called change and I wonder if it might be affecting us all, more than we are aware.

Our lives have changed, been altered by this pandemic that has touched every corner of the Earth.

Our work, school, places of worship and social lives have changed. How we shop, spend our time do recreation and entertainment has changed. Now, as summer is just around the corner, how we vacation has changed.

Graduations, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and so many other special events have changed.

Though things are ever so gradually opening up, officials are quick to remind us that we are not going back to what we knew to be ‘normal’ but we are moving towards a new normal …

and, well … we can’ see or envision what that looks like, because it is still enfolding. With this, even our ability to dream or foresee what the future looks like has changed.

There are those who are eager to leap into what is opening up, those that are more cautious, or even more fearful. Fear has been on the rise over these months … and it will destroy even more than Covid 19.

Change is hard. Change without knowledge of what is to come … that can be destructive.

My thoughts go back to this invisible cloud called change and I wonder if it might be affecting us all, more than we are aware.

“Before we had airplanes and astronauts, we really thought that there was an actual place beyond the clouds, somewhere over the rainbow. There was an actual place, and we could go above the clouds and find it there.” – Barbara Walters

I wonder if Barbara Walters knew something of that place above and beyond the clouds. I wonder if she understood that what was, what is beyond our troubles, is a place and a person to put our hope in, when the heaviness of life weighs us down.

Look up!

Turn your eyes toward Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace


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Me or we?

Sometimes our questions come down to that one question …

Me or we?

When we believe that our actions do not have any impact on those around us … when we think that our desires come before anyone else … when we hold to the perspective that we are in control of our own destinies we are living in the me world.

When we consider how our actions impact those around us … when others are considered in the seeking of having our desires met … when we recognize that our destinies are in the hands of a greater power … and we care for the needs of others who we share community with, we are living in a bigger world … the real world.

We are now living in a time when we need to abandon the me for the we.

Now is the time to clean out the stuff in our homes that we truly do not need and prepare it for donation to those who have need. To reach out to help our neighbors who might not be able to get out to get essentials. To read good books, to try new recipes, to take a walk in our neighborhoods, to play games. To use technology, for calls and FaceTime gatherings. To get to know the people who live under our own roofs.

Switching out our thinking from me to we.

It is now the time to listen to what health experts are saying, suggesting, imploring. It is now the time to look at the needs of those around us, of how our pursuit of me could put others in possible danger.

I recently read an article from the Boston Globe, written by Mattia Ferraresi, who is a writer for the Italian newspaper Il Foglio. (The subtitle of the article is, “Many of us were too selfish to follow suggestions to change our behavior. Now we’re in lockdown and people are needlessly dying.”)

Ms. Ferraresi said, of the affects of the lockdown in Italy :

“Strangely, it’s also a moment in which our usual individualistic, self-centered outlook is waning a bit. In the end, each of us is giving up our individual freedom in order to protect everybody, especially the sick and the elderly. When everybody’s health is at stake, true freedom is to follow instructions.”

May we learn from what other nations had to learn the hard way. May we acknowledge that this world does not revolve around me but that we share this world, are co-dependent on each other for both joy and for survival of life.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor (WE) as yourself (ME).’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

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Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

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