“Never in my life did I think—.” In the past few years I’ve been prefacing many sentences with that phrase. “Never in my life did I think: Trump, pandemic, racial injustice, insurrection, mass shootings, climate change, Vladimir Putin.”
It’s too much. We find ourselves craving comfort—hence for many of us the COVID weight gain and TV binge watching. We also yearn for inspiration and courage which perhaps explains the popularity of poetry. But what if we don’t have cable TV6 or poetry at our finger tips? Where else can we find courage, comfort, inspiration?
I’m not going to say the Bible. I know, I know, many of us find comfort and inspiration there but that is not where I’m going this week. Instead I take us to sunny—but freezing cold—Northern California.
I was there last week, walking in a park and came upon a bench with a plaque on it. It said something like, “Whenever you see a feather, a flower or a heart-shaped stone take these as signs that you are loved.” Then there was a date and a guy’s name. Clearly it was a memorial plaque. Was this person someone who saw signs everywhere? Or someone who missed them?
A feather, a flower, a heart-shaped stone. You are loved.
I’ve always felt that when we want to find something we have to be on the lookout for it. This sounds hideously obvious, but how many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I could find _______(fill in the blank),” but then they spend exactly zero time looking for it?
So when I returned to Seattle I went on a mission to search for signs that I am loved; for signs of comfort, inspiration and courage. To be clear, I know we all won’t agree on these signs. I found great inspiration watching a dog’s nostrils flare in and out as she breathed. It was amazing to me! But I know not everyone can appreciate a wet dog nose or the wonder of cream swirled in coffee or the smell of garlic cooking.
Once you start looking you’ll see signs everywhere—especially in Nature. A feather, a flower, a heart-shaped stone. But you can find them indoors too. In Sunday worship, there was Vania dancing down the middle aisle in her bright blue blouse and ocean blue skirt. My first thought seeing her twirl by was, “In spite of it all we dance.” Courage! I looked around at the familiar faces of my church community—comfort! I listened to the choir singing together in harmony—inspiration!
So many things to encourage me—but then I was looking! So that must be our task: to keep our eyes open for signs of love, courage, comfort and inspiration.
And of course—there’s always the Bible!*
*Isaiah 40:8 :The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.