Hope and a Future

Candle Photo from MSN Clipart

These are trying times and no matter how this pandemic is touching you, there are times when you may feel like you’ve lost all hope. I know I’m not saying anything you already don’t know and aren’t experiencing – life isn’t normal these days.

Whether, it’s keeping social distancing with a neighbor or not having a job to go back to. These are the highs and lows with many layers in between – a roller coaster ride, with no end in sight, rising from one level of worry about paying bills to another dip if your spouse or parent gets sick. Sounds pretty grim but please read on.

I came across a scripture in a sample of a daily devotional I received in the mail last year and it struck a chord. I was feeling low at the time and it touched me deeply and comforted me. It seemed to be exactly what I needed to hear at the time.

The same passage popped up again a couple of Sundays ago in an evening TV series finale showing of “God Friended Me”. I noticed the mention of the same scripture and remembered how it affected me when I first read it. When something shows up again like this, even after a year, it gets my attention, especially in times like these. It reads like this:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Hope comes in many forms and this one may not particularly fit for you. You may wonder where’s the comfort in prosperity if your family is hungry and you don’t know how you’ll get the next meal. Or, the one you loved has just died and you couldn’t be there to say goodbye. It hurts and we feel in harm’s way when we’re in depths of despair when these events happen to us.

But, even in those darkest times a glimmer of hope can happen. May be just how the light cast shadows through a window or a passing gesture of someone walking down the street. It’s what catches our attention, grabs our heart for just a moment and we notice long enough to feel that feeling of hope that goes beyond our situation.

“Four Candles”

What’s different these days is that circumstances are forcing us to refocus. We’ve been locked down and staying home – only now recently going back to work, wearing masks when we go out in public, sanitizing groceries and goods we bring home and washing our hands. Before, we never gave any of that a second thought. We’d meet up with friends at a game or a restaurant and now that’s been all closed down, even airports have looked like ghost towns.

We have to rethink how to work, shop, cook, travel, entertain ourselves and communicate with each other. We have so much time on our hands it all seems so different and, no doubt, foreign. But, when circumstances dictate new routines a new reality appears. You may now notice things that weren’t on your radar before.

It’s like someone who has visited a friend once a week for many years and that friend is going out of town for a few weeks and asks them to house sit. Even though they’ve been in their house for years on weekly visits, there are things they come across while house sitting they never noticed before – a crack in the ceiling or a painting in the hallway. So, when their friend returns and they come for a visit, they won’t see their home in the same way they saw it before.

Even though life is different these days, maybe having to change our routines and refocus is a good thing. We’ll realize we can be more creative and do the same job in a different way and have more time. Once we settle down and move off our old ruts and out of our comfort zones, we may realize it’s nice and less stressful. We find ourselves breathing again with a space for hope. Maybe, in terms of this pandemic, we’ll no longer view things in gloomy black and white but in rainbows.

The “Rainbow Song” – A celebration of Nelson Mandela. “He didn’t dream in black and white, he saw a rainbow”.

I’ve always found that no matter what I’ve had to go through in my life, and no matter how devastating it was, there was always extra grace to match the circumstance. I believe this grace is being matched all over the world in every circumstance that’s being experienced in these times. Hope is for everyone no matter your belief.

When the pandemic has calmed down and we’ve discovered how to treat this coronavirus, life will seem to begin to return but it may look a lot different than it did before. We will have learned and experienced a new reality and ways of living we may not want to give up to go back to the way it was. We will have learned to function in a new way and enjoy it. The old way may no longer work for us.

Old jobs won’t be there anymore to go back to but new jobs will have cropped up to replace them. In reinventing ourselves we’ll have realized we moved onto something more efficient and better. But, more importantly we’ve touched something within that’s more important and noticed things about ourselves and life we never had time to realize before. Life has more meaning and depth.

Dr. Maya Angelou: “Be a Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud”

Dr. Maya Angelou: “Be A Rainbow In Someone Else’s Cloud”

Life is a gift and no matter how bad the coronavirus is realized in your life, there will be something different come out of it you will notice. Let it happen for you and hope will be in the center of it among many other things. God bless you and be safe and well.

Pat from the ‘ol kitchen table

Baby Boom 2020

What’cha doin’ out there? In nine months or more, will we see another baby boom on the rise? Perhaps, the timing is not there yet, as we’re still right in the middle of a pandemic. But, in light of the serious conditions this virus is inflicting around the world, I’d like to think that, in the midst of it all, what we’re doing is making love rather than making war.

I’m a baby boomer and came into this world shortly after WWII. Culture and conditions were much different then than the times we’re experiencing now but there are similarities. So much so, that what’s happening may be history repeating itself, only it’s showing up in a new form that we may not even recognize. What’s interesting in these turbulent times is how will we respond and what it will look like at the other end. Will we rise to the challenge?

Shortly before I was born, men and women were separated from their homes and country to fight a war that similarly impacted the whole world. It was horrible for those left waiting, wondering whether they’d ever see their loved one again. The emotional pain watching daily for the mailman in hopes of a letter or listening for a knock at the door for a telegram delivery may have seemed unbearable at times. When the war was over and they came back, there was such a joy to have them home the result was a population explosion. Hopefully, this time what will come out of it will be a love boom, where we hunger once again for getting together realizing that, while technology is good, it just can’t compete with human touch and connection.

Today, our war is close, on our doorsteps, creeping in our homes and communities all over the globe. We’re shut in hoping to stop the virus spread and end the pandemic. Locked down in our homes with spouses, family, significant others, unable to move about freely to connect and get together. There’re just so many movies you can watch and video games to play. The magic of love isn’t quite the same when you’re living with each other 24/7 week after week and romance may not feel the same while experiencing everyday reality with children crying and bills to pay.

Just before WWII, my parents were coming out of a ten-year depression where they saw their parents struggling to find jobs, money scarce and food lines for those without any resources. It must have seemed like it would never end.

Today, when the pandemic hit, our economy was booming, unemployment was at a record low and everything seemingly appeared to be what we wanted and working so hard for. With today’s technology, we’re able to connect with people thousands of miles afar in ways like never before with a simple click. We have instant responses where we’re glued to our phones night and day, hardly without them. Where, when I was born and in my parents’ time they were glued to their radios.

It’s scary times now just like it was then. The future is uncertain and what we thought we had control over no longer seems to exist. What were historic events for them in a depression, world war and a baby boom stretched out over time and what we’re caught up in today is making history too. Only, what we’re experiencing has arrived as a double whammy at one time – a virus causing isolation and isolation creating strain being unable to work and bring in the paycheck to eat and pay the bills.

I wonder how my grandparents and parents processed what they were going through in their time. Maybe, they were more prepared for hard times since they had just come out of the depression and a world war. No doubt they felt like giving up and losing hope but had no choice but to carry on much like we do today.

“Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him”James Allen

One thing I have come to count on is that every day we’ll see the sun rise and in the evening set, seasons will come and go and birds will fly. There is something bigger in control of this world and it’s still revealing its breathtaking beauty in countless ways that doesn’t depend on me to notice.

In listening to this song, I often feel myself wanting to fly with the bluebirds over the rainbow.

Maybe that’s what we’re doing in all of this. We’re in the midst of discovering that brave and startling truth, as Maya Angelou says in an excerpt from her poem, “A Brave and Startling Truth”:

“We, this people, on a small and lonely planet. Traveling through casual space. Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns to a destination where all signs tell us it is possible and imperative that we discover a brave and startling truth.”

While you’re shut in and maybe looking for a couple of old movies you haven’t seen in awhile, here are a couple of my favorites we just recently watched. Be prepared to be inspired and feel a little sweet, simple love.

We’re all in this together. Let’s make it count with love, hope, giving and tender patience.

Pat from the ‘ol kitchen table

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Acknowledgements: "The call of destiny photo - Alberto more...