Listening and Looking

The view of my beloved oak tree early this morning.

Jason and I are still in the intense years of parenting.  Not as intense as those baby and toddler years were.  Now those were some seriously intense years!  But still – we are in the thick of parenting.  And – of course – Covid-19 seems to have added to the intensity of this time in our lives.

More than anything I have noticed how I am very rarely alone anymore.  Seriously – I am almost never alone.  Once upon a time (like in February 2020) I had great big – glorious stretches of alone time.  I was seriously spoiled.  Not so much anymore.

I regularly remind myself that someday – I will have huge swaths of alone time.  Someday the McFarland sons will live elsewhere.  Someday our sons will set off into the world to pursue their own amazing hopes and awesome dreams.  Someday my home will be quiet and Lego-free and Godzilla-less.  Someday no one will be wrestling on my living room floor or asking me to watch his favorite PBSkids show with him.  Someday no one will be updating me on his NTI progress for that minute or asking about lunch options.

I remind myself of the glorious blessing that I am never – ever lonely!  I remind myself to appreciate and give thanks for this time in my life – because I am deeply blessed. 

I love my family more than words can say.  Seriously – I do.  But I miss silence and quiet.  I am an introvert.  Too much stimuli drains me.  It always has. 

So I have started getting up early in the morning (for me).  I get up between 5:00 AM and 5:30 AM most mornings.  (I know this isn’t early for some of you – but for me this is pretty early.) 

I love the quiet and the solitude of my early mornings.  I drink coffee.  I bask in the solitude.  I write sermons.  I plan worship (on-line worship takes more planning than you might think).  I think about lots of things.  I drink even more coffee.  I keep an eye out for the sunrise.  I am a big fan of watching the sun rise.

And I listen.  I love listening when the world around me is quiet(-ish).  The hush of the early morning is a delight to my introverted soul.

This morning the world sounded very different.  Long before the sun rose and I could see all of the ice – I could hear the ice.  I could hear that our world was different. 

I could hear the creaking.  I could hear the heaviness of the ice.  I could hear that the huge two hundred year old oak tree in our backyard was weighed down with a layer of ice.  My ears told me the ice was there long before I could see it. 

Once the sun rose I could see that ice was coating everything.  The world glistened and shined and sparkled.  Ice is messy and dangerous – but it is breathtakingly beautiful too.

Because I am me and I can’t stay inside – I headed outside to explore with great care and much caution.  I could really hear the ice then.  The creaking and crunching and the groaning of the ice was delightful and amazing and intriguing.

I know this ice storm has made a mess of things for some people.  I know the ice will damage things.  I know ice is dangerous – but it is so beautiful.  Really – really stunningly beautiful.  Awesomely beautiful.  Dazzlingly beautiful.

I have been thinking about finding the beauty in the messy moments in life.  On finding the beauty in the storms of life.  So much of our time these past months has been spent on just getting through – on making it.  So much of our energy has been spent focusing on the bad and on what we don’t like and on what stinks about the situation in which we find ourselves.  We focus on what we don’t like and on what we miss and on what we wish were different. 

I understand.  I do.  It is natural to grieve loss.  Plenty stinks about living through a global pandemic.  I know we all need to let off steam.  Venting can be very helpful – but I wonder if we don’t focus a bit too much on how much this stinks some days?  I wonder if sometimes we aren’t getting just a bit lost in the wretchedness of it?

Perhaps we need to shift our focus a bit and look at things from a different perspective?

Perhaps we should look for the good and the beautiful?  Can we look for the blessings?  Can we find beauty where we are right now – in this very moment?  This is life for us now.  Can we find joy and good in what we do have?

I will start. 

I have two delightful sons who love (and even seem like) me so much they want to hang out with me.  That is seriously cool.  That is something I will give thanks for.

Coffee.  I love coffee.  Coffee is my morning bestie!  It quietly keeps me company every single morning.

A busy – bustling home.  Seriously – I haven’t been lonely in a year!

Dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.  All of those dishes mean our family has lots of nutritious food to eat and plenty of delightfully clean water to wash those dirty dishes with.  I find this also helps with dirty laundry!  It also helps to remember that when I do laundry I load it into automatic machines that do most of the work for me.  My foremothers took their laundry to the river . . .

I miss a lot from our lives 12 months ago – but there are a multitude of blessings in my present too.  I give thanks for those.

Where are you seeing God’s presence in your life?  Where are you seeing God’s blessings to you?  How are you trying to remember to give thanks?

You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor KerriĀ 

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