Walking down the street tonight on a cool, late spring, evening, a Facebook post from an acquaintance sending me down memory lane.
The post was a church somewhere in northern MInnesota, a building plain inside and faux log cabin without. There were musicians with guitars and people singing and it called to mind a simpler time, a time of college and gatherings like this in a world that seemed somehow less byzantine than today.
I know, we weren’t sophisticates and a certain kind of naivety oozed from us and yet the world seemed full of potential, of faith, of a certain kind of possibility. We weren’t sure where we would go and how things would play out and yet there was a kind of joy because we understood that God was with us.
Frankly, that seems absent now. Too many agendas. Too many things on the task list. Too many competing influences and not enough time sitting around campfires singing songs of praise and thinking only of the moment and the stars above.
My heart is too often filled with noise. My soul is too often shaken the jackhammer of busyness for its own sake. Where are the evening stars? Where are the loon sounds? Where is the simple faith I remember having and the joy that followed it?
I want my memories back and I hear their call like the call of Jesus telling us to come with our labors and burdens and find, in Him, our rest.
It’s a long time time since I’ve been here, a world away from those days just back from Kenya and the missions.
A little thing called Covid 19 was between there are here. I got it. I survived, and then I went back to work with others who had caught it. Most survived.
The price was high. Not just the illness but the hours breathing through a hot mask, the sweaty PPE, the showers at the end of the day, watching the funeral home come. Crying when they did and crying when the survivors left the unit. Communing a sweet lady while wearing a haz mat helmet for vestments. Praying hard. Worrying for my wife and family. Sleeping alone to keep others safe.
People ask me what I want.
I want a month somewhere quiet. I want people to stop calling us “heroes” because we do this every day. I want people to understand I’m not myself yet because that jolly, caring person, has been pushed real hard and is very tired. I want people to know that I’m glad I experienced what I did and returned to do the service I could, but there was a cost.
Everything seems different now. I cry very easily. I roll down the windows in my car every time I can because fresh air has become like gold to me. I sleep when I can, sometimes too much and sometimes too little. The day determines the night. They say one needn’t fear in the valley of the shadow of death but that doesn’t mean it won’t take a piece out of you as you walk through.
Still, my faith is still there and so is my hope. I’ll catch up with the rest of the world in a little bit.
See you there.
God’s unfathomable love for such a beligerent species such as we are.
How can God, knowing full well what we have done, to His creation, to each other, to ourselves, and knowing not just what is seen but even the darkest recesses of what is inside of us, love?
Who would, who could, blame God from erasing existence as we know and starting again in the hopes of something, anything, better? Who could judge God for saying “This experiment has failed it is now time for another?”
Yet God has mercy, even on those who hate Him to His face, those who would destroy, those who would deliberately promote evil on the Earth, and me when I am at my worst.
Unimaginable, yet real. Beyond understanding, yet available to any truly seeking heart.
I wish things were different. I wish the world I live in was different, less noisy, less angry, less obsessed. For now, though, this doesn’t seem to be its path.
Anger won’t help either. What would my anger do to help things become less angry?
There are times, as well, when I simply want to be left alone. And as much as a safe hiding place would be nice eventually I would be forced to come out of my bunker if, for no other reason, to get coffee. People aren’t my problem anyway.
I think the only thing to survive these days is to fill yourself with light. Go to church. Read the Scriptures. Bathe, frequently, in any holy waters you can find. Pray and absorb every small bit of God and goodness to fill the empty places and then live as much like heaven as possible.
Do that and the worst that can happen is joy and the best is that you join the Saints.
I’ve come to even more appreciation for this Orthodox way.
It’s not because there aren’t struggles and personalities and challenges. There are, and there are moments when I cringe. Still there’s something deeper.
I see the fluidity of history. Times change. The world changes and often not for the better. In the turbulence I seek a place of calm, a place that at it’s core is unperturbed by the times whatever they may be. A place where I can come out of the world so when I return I return knowing there is more and better and a destination other than being a child of my own time and place.
Time is a current necessity but timelessness is where the necessity can be survived. Along the Orthodox way there are moments of timelessness and if I cannot be in them at least I know that they, and some semblance of hope, are there.
I suppose that may sound esoteric but I know there are more years behind than ahead. That’s just the way of things. And in those years behind I’ve seen and experienced enough to realize that holy, timeless, moments, those glimpses of heaven breaking through into time, are among the greatest of gifts.
What is money? It’s what people think it is and you never get to keep it. What is notoriety? Everyone forgets in the end. It’s just a matter of time. Even health, preserved by long struggle, will eventually give way. Any moment spent in eternity, in the presence of God, in God’s world, is worth more than all of these. This beautiful path, this Faith, can be a narrow and difficult way but it’s destination is worth the struggle and the moments when that destination meets me while still on the path keep my feet light and my face towards the sun.
It has been a cold week here in Minnesota. Air temperatures dropping to the 30’s below farenheit and the wind chills falling even further.
We’re actually kind of used to it here. Not that it happens often but rather because enduring rough weather is part of the “soul” of Minnesota. No one moves here for the weather, too cold in winter, too hot and humid in summer, but we all figure out a way to make do. This last week was no different. Cars started, at least most did. People who needed to be at work found a way and those that could stay put at home, did. And everyone put on layers and continued on with life as people in more southern climes stared in wonder, or horror, or both.
Living here, though, has made me a lover of spring. If winter must be endured I find that, as I grow older, spring is to be embraced. The sensitive can feel it coming as nature fills the air with subtle hints of its arrival. Daylight increases. The warm breezes from the southwest begin to win their battle with the Alberta clippers. The sky seems different, and long sleeping animals begin to awake.
If a person can make it through January, then the worst is over. January will claim some, that time of the year always does. Still, if you make it through, the end, if not the snow, is in sight and spring’s inevitability begins to make itself known. Years of experience makes a person wise in this regard and those who are aware of the surety of spring, even in the howling winds of winter, can endure.