Day number 12 of my Lent reflections. You’d think that I would run out of things to reflect on. I certainly would think so! I mean, how complicated are our lives that we can come up with something new of a spiritual nature every day? Of course pastors and theologians can do such things at the drop of a hat, but that comes as no surprise; that’s their job and they trained for it and get paid to do it (sometimes too much but usually not enough). I’m not a pastor and I am definitely not a theologian, so it is most unlikely that these reflections come entirely from me.
That leaves us with the conclusion that they come at least in part from somewhere else. Now, my wife is not feeding me these topics and themes and neither are my son, my daughter, my brother, nor any other living material being on this planet. That narrows it down even more to a supernatural source for these many thoughts, and there are only two choices which can be made as to which side of the cosmic supernatural war might be feeding me the ideas that I write about which are wrapped up in my own real personal experiences and written out of my own perceptions of reality. I will let you, reader, decide from whence my inspiration arises.
Today I write about a mixed bag sort of day. Have you ever had one of those? Part of the day causes you to walk on air while the other part has you grinding down the street wearing iron boots. You feel divided; guilty if you are reveling in the joy that one part of your day is giving you and guilty if you are wallowing in your downer when you have so much to feel good about. I’m not at all certain how to proceed, so I will just let the Holy Spirit guide me if S/He will, and share my struggle a little bit with you all today.
On the downer side, I have an illness in my extended family. I will be vague about this because that is my nature and training. I work in the health care business and we live and die by a code of discretion and caution concerning other people’s medical issues, and even though the family members most closely connected to the party in difficulty are not at all reticent to talk about it, I am. So you’ll have to take my word for it that I’m worried. This has been a cloud over my head since I woke up this morning, and it’s been hard to not think about it.
And then there is the day that God has given us today! The sun is out and I am sitting in a chair with my feet propped up on the hood of my truck in the sunshine. I pulled a gob of weeds today and I love little more than getting my fingers into the dirt. I’m even wearing shorts, although that’s causing a strain on the relationship with my neighbors. They’re all wearing shades to prevent blindness from the sunlight reflecting off of my white, knobby legs! On days like this I can hardly let anything get me down, and all of this is what feeds my problem. Am I dissing God by allowing myself to be down on such a day? Am I dissing my family to be sitting comfortable and warm in flood of sunshine that really shouldn’t be here for one, two, or even three more months?
Trying to work my way through this I am reminded of a story that I once read, I remember not where. A very saintly woman – we’ll call her “Agnes” because that name sounds so very spiritual – who was known for her spirituality and relationship with God, and especially for her prowess as a prayer warrior for the cause of God, was traveling through the countryside one day and stopped at a monastery along the way where she hoped to find a bed and a meal. The Grand Poobah of the monastery invited her in with a flourish of hospitality, and threw a great feast to welcome her. The meal consisted of bread, cheeses, beer and partridges, and Sister Agnes wasted no time tearing into the food and drink with unreserved gusto. As she began to slam down her fourth bird the Grand Poobah became concerned and gently chided her on her appetite. “Sister Agnes,” he said, “don’t you think that you should slow down for appearances’ sake? This could tarnish your fine reputation as a moderate woman of God”. The Sister lowered the bird for a moment and replied: “Brother Poobah. When it’s time to pray, pray. But when it’s time to partridge, partridge.”
Well, I think God’s telling me something like that today. When it’s time to engage my family and support them in their difficulty, pray and support. But when it’s time to sit in the sun or run my fingers through the moist, warm dirt, sit and run my fingers and be thankful for the opportunity.
So that’s what I’ll do. Pray a prayer of petition and also one of thanks. God can multitask. He can chew gum and walk. He can handle it all just fine. So I’ll quit cluttering up my life trying to find the ‘right’ response to every situation and just enjoy God’s blessing when everything’s fine and lean into Him when the storms hit. Thanks God.