The Morning Dove

 

Just a simple walk is what I took this morning with our two young dogs. For an August day in Tucson, it was pleasantly decent. Not lovely enough to include a breeze, but in the shade, a temperature that gave you reprieve.

And that’s where it happened.  The dogs sat down for a breather and an incoming adult bird arrived. I heard its wings flutter past me, before it landed on a mid-height branch, making itself at home. A mourning dove. It settled its wings, and balanced itself at a forty-five-degree angle to me. It seemed self-assured, as though it liked its location. In a minute, it began to twitch its tail.  One of the dogs looked up, but didn’t bark. If the other dog noticed, it didn’t bark either. They seemed to knew we were the guests under the sheltering branches and the bird’s right to be there trumped ours.

I spoke in a low cooing voice. “Hello, lady bird. You’re a pretty little dove. Yes, you are. How are you this morning?’

I got quiet and watched her.

More fluttering of her back tail. She remained sideways, not flinching.  Still unafraid. She was beautiful, a soft brown with a black mark on her cheek, sleek feathers, underpinnings of white.

I stared. I was puzzled. She wasn’t but five feet away and she wasn’t afraid. My high pitched voice didn’t bother her, and neither did the dogs.

My head pulled back.  This unfearful dove felt like a gift from God. All week I’d struggled being able to trust Him, for the well-being of my sister in the hospital with an undiagnosed spiking blood pressure condition.

Lord, did You send this bird? What are You saying?

I studied the dove. She’d flown to a safe place on the branch not far above me where I could see her beauty and feel her close by.  She had no fear; she was safe. Safety.  God had Karen in a safe place. I didn’t have to be afraid.

And Peace. I could be at peace.

No, we still don’t know why Karen has rogue blood pressure increases, enough to give her chest pain and two mild heart attacks.  But she’s safe in the hospital and being tested for a diagnosis. The doctors don’t yet have the answer, but our Omniscient Father does.

He’s got Karen. I can be at peace. I can pray. And I can I thank the Lord for how He’s going to help.

In case you think this far-fetched, remember God uses nature throughout the Bible to display his glory or convey a message. An example is Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan River.

“[Jesus] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. ~”Matthew 3:16

 


Dear Omniscient Father, Please give us the wisdom we need and the gift of peace as we wait for the answer, amen.

 

 

 

 

The Yellow Kitchen

 

Our Michigan house was built by my parents, and its rectangle kitchen was cleverly designed, with three entries: one to the bedroom hallway, one to the dining room where we took our evening and Sunday meals, and one to the back porch beside the telephone desk. On either side of the hallway door’s entrance began two paralleled counter tops, the stove on one side and the sink in the other.  The fridge stood adjacent to the stove side. The sink’s counter side stopped short, to provide passage into the breakfast room. Behind the sink was more counter, making its section an island with a rounded end graced by lower shelves to match the curve. An overhead cupboard was to the sink’s right and the rest of the island opened into the breakfast room. In that sweet room lived a yellow linoleum covered table that matched the floor, seven chairs, and the small telephone desk.  If you sat on the north side of the table, you could see evidence of the current season in the backyard, through divided window panes. If you sat on the south side, you saw the kitchen’s floor plan:  island sink, stove, refrigerator and door to the dining room and bedroom hallway.

In this warm room, we took breakfast and lunch, played table games like Monopoly, War, Parcheesi and checkers and my live-in grandpa played Cribbage every Friday night with Uncle Bernie there. On those kitchen walls, this three-year-old got crayons and scribbled from one corner to another before my mother caught me. And on the kitchen island my father laid me flat, to stitch a cut over my eye, when I fell headlong on the back-porch steps one rainy day in 1955. I still have the scar from that cut on my body.

Deeper still, I have the imprint of that yellow kitchen, in my memory.

What indelible scar do you carry in your body? What memory from your childhood home?

 

~A Prayer~

Thank You, Lord that You see all that happens to us. You see us in our childhood kitchens, you see us today.  You heal us of our cuts and wounds, because You love to show us mercy and kindness. Please bring this to those who are without it. Put them on our minds, so we can pray for them.

Please bless our good memories and heal us of what brought us scars. Thank you that scars are evidence of Your presence, then and now. Thank you for salvation through Jesus who for our sake, endured scorn, false accusations, assault and battery, and a criminal’s death, to provide for us a life where we can have a kitchen place on earth, where we might learn of Your love. But even better, a place in your heavenly kingdom, the Big kingdom, the One that matters most of all.

“May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.  ~Matthew 6:10

The Fight

The Fight

The siege in our land is as ugly as the Civil War days. We’ve made some progress, writing laws calling for equality and 190 years later, equality and kindness are larger. But prejudice still exists. The Law is the standard, but the ability to embrace its rule of kindness lies within the human heart. Scripture says our heart is either flesh or stone. Flesh brings love and kindness for others. Stone doesn’t–it believes it’s better than others, and breeds hatred.  Prejudice is outlawed by law but still lives in human hearts, as in 1865: those who believe all men are created equal and those who don’t.

Where we fail Lady Justice, we must work for change together. Peacefully.  I agree with Harris Faulkner: we need to fight for America, not fight each other.

Seeing that police officer keep his knee on George Lloyd’s neck made me sick. Why did no one push him off? Bystanders could have rushed him, together. The officer’s heart was filled with hate. As was the man who hit the police chief over the head with a baseball bat. And the person whose stray bullet hit a baby in the chest and killed him. Such crime deserves arrest, a trial and possible imprisonment and no release without bail.

And let us not persecute and punish all officers who do their job superbly, taking risks, putting their lives on the line. And let us also not assume all protesters are alike. Let us not judge the majority for the sins of a few.

May God forgive us for our hearts of stone. May He change them to hearts of flesh, convict us of sin, bind our enemies and save us.

The Blurry Pandemic

 

The CO-VID parasite take over is the weirdest thing I’ve known. As a child, my cousin got scarlet fever and that was weird too, since she came to our house and was in quarantine for ten days in a contained bedroom; my mom took care of her around the clock. But there were medicines for that in the 1950’s.

This pandemic is different. Its contagion ability is strong and far reaching. It has no exact cure. Except for places it cannot find people in close proximity, it thrives and spreads. It’s worldwide. Those who travel with it (even if unknowingly) successfully transfer it to new regions. A single case of it arriving in New York multiplied in six weeks to thousands. An older woman visiting family in Spain returned to the states, then traveled to South America (with a fever) and transferred it to her family there. Both she and her sister died from the virus.

I’ve gone round and round to comprehend it. My conclusion? It belies understanding. The conflicting reports are confusing and unresolved. Have you heard them?

  1. it’s insidious/no, it’s no worse than the flu except for those with preexisting conditions or the elderly who aren’t equipped in their immune system to resist it
  2. it’s spreadable only by droplets in the air from a coughing or sneezing person/no–it’s highly contagious and just being near it can give it to you
  3. wearing a mask slows it down/masks are only for those who have a cold, to keep germs in
  4. gloves are good/no, not necessarily
  5. hydrychloroquine turns most patients around in a few days/hydrychloroquine is unproved and has serious side effects
  6. the sheltering in place is working/no, the sheltering isn’t making much difference; numbers are still climbing
  7. the wave will die by May/the wave will go into the summer and flare again in the fall
  8. heat doesn’t kill it/summer might very well lower the numbers some
  9. if the healthy are not exposed (most can fight it off), not enough people will develop antibodies and reduce the numbers the next time it hits/no, the herd immunity plan isn’t conclusive or trustworthy
  10. Sweden and some U.S. states aren’t sheltering in place and not any worse off than the countries who are/no, they will suffer the consequences, just wait and see
  11. the virus began in a Wuhan China lab or wet market/no it didn’t…we don’t know how it began
  12. China infected all of us/no, China did a good job of keeping it contained the best they could
  13. the W.H.O. has ties with China and is hiding the facts/WHO supports China’s story that the virus was dealt with correctly
  14. President Trump’s not truthful, isn’t doing a good job or enough, says what he thinks makes him look good and pats himself on the back,  isn’t getting the tests out to the states/ or…Pres. Trump is under immense strain, is in the same boat we are, has only partial knowledge about what’s best so went with the sheltering in place, hoping for the best/has our best interests in mind
  15. Dr. Fauci’s the expert and has the best ideas and we should follow him even to a 2021 lock-down/Dr. Fauci knows a lot but can’t prove sheltering is working
  16. A cure for the virus will take a year or more/we may never have an anti-virus for CO-VID; there’s been no anti-virus for HIV+ years later
  17. nursing homes might be a breeding ground for CO-VID/no, most nursing homes take extreme precautions and fight the infection quite well
  18. the state is overstepping our civil liberties with a lock-down/ no, we have to obey this–they have jurisdiction when a state of emergency or war is declared

My son in law works (virtually now) for the CDC and has no inside story on it. He says it depends on who you talk to regarding any question or ability of the virus.

At best, the picture is blurred. Only God knows what this is and what its outcome shall be. If reporting is bent on creating despair and panic, or disparaging or glorifying our president, take heed.

Arizona’s cases don’t follow a norm. We have outbreaks and high numbers in Maricopa County but not necessarily in only metropolis zones. Many are rural cases, including the Navajo nation in the northeast corner, where it attacks those in poverty/poor health or living far from medical help. We also have a vast number of older retirees. And care facility residents. When breakouts occur in some of these homes, this conflates numbers.

Besides those in the 65 and older group, we have high numbers of cases in the 20-40 age group. Do the younger adults not have enough antibodies in their system to fight this, as was the case in the Spanish influenza of 1918?  Is this group not staying at home? Did some have compromised health before they got infected?

We don’t know. We can’t judge. I gently conclude with three questions and a caveat.

  1. How is the virus really caught?
  2. How can we know if sheltering in place truly keeps numbers down? (It’s been six weeks, with a lock-down and Arizona’s numbers are still climbing. Recently reported death/cases are about 300/5700+, but cases continue to come forward. Why?)
  3. Can you curtail something silent and invisible?

For Christians, we might wonder what God is doing. Things don’t happen without reason/s. He has things to show us. Better than wondering is praying—for His healing, His help, for scientists to discover His solution, and for His comfort to those in deep grief. Praying is a golden chance to cooperate with the divine. Let us yield to the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6. And to the Greek song/prayer:

Kyrie Eleison: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

 

 

What’s Going On?

 

 

 

I think it’s official, the world has lost its sense of balance. Yes, we have a pandemic going on, yes, it’s serious, and yes we need to take precautions.  But is all this fear and panic justified?

In order to buy our groceries and not feel like a packaged sardine, I have to shop when things are not crazy.  And when would that be?  I dislike ordering things online.  Supposed early hours for those over sixty-five doesn’t help since there’s a large constituency of that here in Tucson.  Not much advantage. Add to those numbers folks who disregard the age recommendation and come anyway.

This morning I decided to try Costco at 8 a.m., being told the first hour on Tuesdays was for seniors.  I figured I’d avoid the initial rush and go about ten minutes late. Ready to leave, I couldn’t find my car keys. An indoor hunt led to nothing. I tried the car itself; there they lay on the driver’s seat. Huh? I left for my mission, only to round the corner and face an orange sign: STREET CLOSED.  Two obstructions in five minutes.

Obstruction three. Arriving at Costco was shocking.  The left turn lane was filled halfway back to the post freeway intersection.  Oh joy. Waiting to even turn IN took the patience of Job. Policemen arrived, found places to park, put on their fluorescent vests to direct traffic, of course after I made my left-hand turn.  By now, I gave up any hope of being able to park much less get through the Costco doors. I wasn’t mad, but it wasn’t something I wanted to navigate. I consoled myself that I could get away and go home easily by taking the business loop around to the next intersection.

Wrong. Bumper to bumper cars prevented a speedy exit for anyone. Now I was getting mad, another obstruction. And of course, this most northern intersection into Costco was not policed and people do what people do best, enter the intersection tentatively when the light turns green instead of stepping on the gas. I was stuck in that passageway twenty minutes, creeping my way to the light. Ten cars short of it, a cop arrived from the other direction to make his way to park and set up shop at the light. Of course.

Before I drove much further, I looked for a place to pull over, to adjust a 25 pound weight rolling around in my RAV trunk.  I’d forgot about it, before this errand. (An anchor cylinder for the dogs’ running leash at the park.) Its presence scared me, imagining it could slam its way out the rear door. I pulled over and hauled it to the floor of the second seat.

By now, a blog piece was forming in my mind. I decided to take a photo of the road sign that said STREET CLOSED, a symbol for what’s going on these days. But I left my phone at home. Obstructions five and six, the dangerous weight and forgetting my phone. When I returned to the site with my phone, the sign was gone; the street crew was loading up! So I parked and walked to the one around the corner that said STREET CLOSED AHEAD when I heard a beep beep.  I looked down to see my phone die right then and there. Obstruction seven.

What’s going on? Our world is upended. Unless you live in the arctic or jungle or Sahara Desert, you’re impacted by the obstruction and restrictions of this insidious Corona virus. My exciting March calendar was trashed; the events were once-in-a-lifetime things, big sacrifices for me. So events are cancelled, church is postponed, schools and stores closed, restaurants forbidden to serve, gatherings frowned upon; it goes on.

Normally, I try to take things in stride, albeit I have to work at that. I err on the side of skepticism; it’s been hard to agree to quarantining. I accept that the Lord’s in control– Christianity 101 says so, however that doesn’t mean things are easy nor that I have to like obstructions. God has an enemy and evil is having a heyday.

But Satan’s pot stirring has its limits, praise God. One morning I’ll get up, know where my keys are, be able to go to the store and not find half of Tucson in the parking lot, not get stuck in unnecessary traffic, not be endangered with a heavy weight, and not be so careless as to leave my phone behind. Whether the blame is on myself, life’s circumstances, God’s enemy, general stress, sin, Murphy’s Law, or a threatening virus, God’s still in charge. I want to find better ways to cope than giving in to despair and anger.

This is too big of a crisis not to acknowledge the inherent Big Ideas in it. Years ago, when my first marriage was heading toward a shoreline of rocks, I came to realize God’s presence with me.  Things were so awful, dark and overwhelming that all I could see were dark clouds. I despaired, picked up my Streams in the Desert devotional, and turned to the day’s entry. There, I read that God dwells in the clouds. My balance came back, my burden was lifted.

God’s in this. Bad things can happen. When they do, He’s still there, wanting to show us stuff we haven’t yet seen. Who knows what amazing things will come out of this storm?  Instead of pining for the items I wanted to bargain buy at Costco, I can trust Him to show and give me things a lot more important than a bucket of dates.

We are growing as a country and medicines are coming forward. Ideas showing how to be better prepared are forming. On a personal level, I recognize other things. Here’s my starting list.

  1. Remain calm and quell my agitation.
  2. Pray to stop being selfish and lamenting my inconveniences and losses.
  3. Let God speak to me. Read the Bible and journal.
  4. Pray big, pray for myself, for others, for families whose loved ones have died, for the infected and those with other illnesses in the midst of this turmoil. Pray for the countries and areas hardest hit. Pray for a vaccine and ingenious scientists. Pray for those caring for and bringing medical supplies to the needy. Pray for those out of work and pressed for money to pay bills. Pray that the animus is quenched in our country, and for those deciding how to best help us. For our economy and other countries struggling. Pray for selfish agendas to be crucified. And for myriads to come to Jesus.
  5. Who can I help financially wisely?

What’s on your personal list?

We have two small dogs, one who got to be with us from her weaning and one probably on the streets for a year. You can guess which one is the calmer, happier dog. Lucy-Hazel missed an entire year of our love, assurance and correction. We must train and re-program her and hope she can calm down and realize she’s safe and doesn’t have to be so defensive, nurture balance in her life.

Perhaps this is a time for us to draw closer to God. Only He can lift the burdens from our shoulders. I believe that street sign was removed on purpose, so I’d see that yes, there are road closures at times in our lives.  But our Lord removes them when the work He’s doing is completed.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; He won’t permit the righteous to fall.”   ~ Psalm 55:22: