In the Middle

In the Middle

Do you suppose there is a hush in heaven with all the chaos here below? We are some distance from each other and the end. We are somewhere in the middle, and hope is a faithful companion for the miles ahead. We can each decide how to view this season – are we in the middle of a crisis or of an inevitable miracle? Per Emily Dickinson, “Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul…” If we stop reeling, pause and listen, the birds are still chirping, our hearts are still beating, and the sun did rise again today.

We’ve been distracted for way too long, and now whether six feet below or apart, we are acutely aware of each other. I have reached out to friends I haven’t called in years. I have been surprised by a caring text from someone I blocked. How did I become that person floating by, head in my smart-phone, oblivious as a cloud? Now I wonder as I scroll through my contact list and pause at each name, was I a storm and can I make things right, or was I a peaceful shade and can I be more?

Stay socially-distanced but connected.

At our first virtual Sunday service at TCOTW, our Pastor Tim Clark, said, “Fear is a bigger virus than COVID-19.” Those words fortified me against the dread that could infect and drag me into the global paranoia about the Coronavirus. So, I confess, I’ve boldly hosted a couple of Friday-night-Afrocentric jam sessions in my house complete with almond enjoy and kamikaze cocktails, tequila shots, and endless small chops for few fully-vetted friends. (Don’t get ugly and judge. And yes, I adhered to the guidelines on gatherings) 

Still, I was seeking a word to keep me hopeful. Then the lovely Kristina from my Sidekick Team shared Joel Osteen’s “In the Middle of Miracle” message. I’ve listened to it on repeat and just had to pass it on. The Israelites experienced God’s unusual miracle as they walked through the middle of the Red Sea and escaped a formidable enemy. Even if you are not Christian, if you are alive and breathing today, listen, and be reminded that while we are in the middle of this challenging season, we are also in the middle of a miracle. 

Become an answer to prayer as a good neighbor to everyone and choose kindness. A Native American* proverb says, “No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among themselves.”  We will be marked by how we choose to engage humanity (and maybe literally, going by the incessant talk of mandatory vaccines and chipping) There’s work to do, love to share, promises to keep, and many miles still ahead. Remain thankful to our heroes in scrubs, camouflage, trucks, trains, hosting virtual classes, at check-out counters, advocates for inclusion and the forgotten, first-responders, caregivers, anyone spreading joy, and leading the way. This situation has humbled us, reminded everyone what matters, and turned us towards the invisible God to help battle this unseen enemy.

Guard your mind against fear, practice stillness. Pray. The human body is God’s organic technology, designed to heal when afflicted. All things still work together for our good. Seek the supernatural grace of God in these changing times and stay connected to Source. We are in the middle of the season’s bestselling narrative titled “Coronavirus,” but seasons come and go. Our collective human story is not over, and the angelic chorus has not abated for a nanosecond. Sometimes, miracles happen along the way when we reject despair and instead share hope through music, poems, laughter, resources, lessons, home-cooked meals, or acts of kindness.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.                                                                                                          Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1923)

We are in the middle of an unfolding miracle, a reset, and a great awakening. I pray that we will come through victorious, not broken, or empty-handed. As we journey to the other side, we will be forever changed for the better. 

Ama.

 

References & Notes:

*Some Native Americans self-identify as “Indians” or “American Indians.”

Image Credits: Pixabay

The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)

Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays (Library of America, 1995)

An Even Better Story

storytellers-785760_640

Credit: Pixabay

I had envisioned telling a very different story this morning but this is the one that unfolded. Today was a particularly windy California morning and I raced home down Balboa Boulevard in my gleaming, silver car anticipating some hot French roast coffee, when from my peripheral vision I caught the sight of what looked like a hunched man, battling the elements. He clutched a threadbare cloak around his thin shoulders. His eyes were squeezed tight and all he had between him and the whirling sandstorm was a weather-beaten red donation receptacle.

Suddenly I couldn’t relax in my warm, toasty home with a clear conscience and pretend I didn’t see a brother out there. While I was so terrified of walking up to the homeless man (Let’s call him Bob), I stilled my nerves and rounded the corner with a cup of coffee, a bag containing a toasted turkey sandwich, a delicious red apple and some loose change, but Bob was gone. Gone! I walked further up the street and scanned every shaded area, it was like the wind had whisked him away.  As I walked back home dejected, my story flipped.

If Bob was gone, was there anyone else who could use a hot breakfast? I scanned the alleys, then behind the liquor store at the crossroad and found no-one. None. How many mornings have I driven down this road and not spared a thought for anyone but myself (The drum major instinct). I wondered, is this how God feels holding out gifts, looking out for us, wanting to bless our socks off but we are too selfish, distracted or too busy wandering aimlessly, that we miss His outstretched hands.

We are all servants of humanity, blessed to turn around and be a blessing.  When we actively and purposefully receive all God has for us, we can truly help each other. Every act of kindness becomes part of our history and our family stories.They remind us that miracles are still possible, that there is still so much love to share because God first loved us. Those are stories I want to tell.

It’s crazy faith to expect good from unexpected places, to hope that the next moment could hold the very answers we seek, to look for the good in everything, even the mundane and imperfect.(This reminds me of Brené Brown’s, Gift of Imperfections.) I wish I had met Bob, that would have been a great story, maybe the start of something extraordinary or… not.

Still Bob would have known that he opened my eyes today and made me a better person. They say, you don’t have a story to tell, till you’ve been through something. Here’s to all the downtrodden and lost – no matter what life hurls at you, remember that you are infinitely worthy and your stories anchor our souls.