Sonic Booms

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Sometimes the island is part of the training route for jets from an airbase about 80 miles away.  Although pilots have been instructed not to generate sonic booms as they fly over us, they occasionally misjudge and break the sound barrier.  Shock waves shake our stilt-perched house, jarring pictures on the walls, waking my sleeping cats.  I feel vulnerable to these loud sound explosions because of the distance from the ground; my whole house rocks and shakes.  I can’t help but think of the other ‘sonic booms’  that can jar us so suddenly, under blue and cloud-free skies.  A routine examination at the doctor’s office that uncovers a serious condition, an accident that shatters a family’s stability, a job loss, a phone that rings in the darkness of night—each of these, like sonic booms, suddenly rock our worlds and leave us unsettled.  I trust the builder of our house did his work well, that he set our concrete beams deeply enough into the ground so we can weather the impact.  Similarly, I ask you, Heavenly Father, that you would help increase my faith, establish it deeper in your word and your love so I can withstand all the sonic booms that life brings. Amen.


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I’m AngryI’m Angry

Dear Heavenly Father–all of us must go through the shared experience of coping with COVID-19.  Friends have various methods of surviving. Some are bored, binge watching Netflix or immersing themselves in video games to escape reality. They stare out the windows mindlessly, and when I speak with them on the phone, they sigh, overwhelmingly weary.

Others among my friends are in a state of perpetual fear.  Endless TV coverage of the disease feeds their alarm, whether those numbers reflect a free-fall economy or the growing total of the ill or dead. Temperatures and symptom discussion occupy all conversations. In their voices I hear the tremolo of fear, a wavering indicating their panic.

A smaller number of friends respond to the virus with an enviable state of calm; they use public media sparingly, only to be informed but not absorbed.  They observe all the protective rules, but do so without drama or hysterics.  Their voices are calm, measured.

However, Lord, I fall into none of these categories.  Mostly I am angry.  Very angry. Rage-like angry. It’s a waste of time to be angry at something invisible. My anger is diffuse—broad spectrum. I’m angry some people are called on to risk their lives for public good.  Those who provide us with fuel, groceries, mail, packages, and food are suddenly thrust into danger.  Public health and safety personnel, doctors, nurses, orderlies, and all the hospital staff, are now at risk.  I’m angry knowing many of them have families of their own who may be exposed.

I am angry at those who flout the protections–coughing on produce, spitting at older people, gathering in large groups where the virus is easily spread.  I understand that the young feel immortal; what I don’t understand is their lack of respect for others far more vulnerable.

Perhaps I’m most angry at my own helplessness.  I want to do something, but what?  I’ve been robbed of all the tools I might use to combat COVID-19.  I need the company of my friends, their physical presence, their hugs.  I want to sit with them, share a meal, know they are still well.  The internet Sunday service heightened the importance of the Body of Christ, and its vital role in a church experience.  I felt alone, lacking the reinforcement of those around me.  We touch because we are human, and denied touch we are more isolated, more vulnerable, more easily frightened.  Finally, I’m angry at You, God.  How could You permit this pandemic?  Where are You while Your world falls apart?  I’m angry at You and that only adds to my helplessness.

And so Lord, I come to you with all my human frailties.  In my heart I recognize anger is a pointless and futile response.  Please help me channel that anger–all that energy—all that determination into useful behavior.  If I am limited in personal connections, help me connect through prayer.  Help me channel my anger, broadening it beyond my usual prayer requests.  Help me pray for a world in peril, pray for all those who are ill;  immigrants, the world’s poor, those who experience the intestinal side effects of COVID-19.  Particularly be with those who live in tents, caves, and holes in the ground lacking all sanitary protections.  Be with those paralyzed by fear; help them to come to You in trust.  Be with those who don’t appreciate their own mortality, and fail to understand the vulnerability of others, especially the aged.  Be with those who risk their own safety to protect the public good.  Remind us we live in a fallen world; while it was not You who caused the virus, You will ultimately create good from it.  May each of us use our emotions, our strength, and our energy to draw closer to you, recognizing our dependency.  May this be a time of prayerful contemplation, channeling our emotions into Your service.  This, Lord, is my prayer.

Thanks GivingThanks Giving

Our first Thanksgiving on the island seemed strange. After all, I was accustomed to Puritans and northern Indians, a barren November landscape, food designed to warm the body and ward off chills. Here on the island Thanksgiving is often celebrated wearing shorts and sandals, in tees and tank tops. The food is lighter and less filling, fit for warm weather. Eventually I came to understand it doesn’t matter what the participants wear or what they eat—what’s important is what’s being done. The harvest is in, whether that harvest is northern crops or southern cotton and sorghum. God has manifested once again his bounty and his love. Our giving of thanks has nothing to do with dress or the formality of service; it is intended to be a sincere acknowledgment of our dependency on God and his open hand of generosity. Thank you, Lord, for the bounty you share with us throughout the country and the world. May we share this bounty with one another as you have been generous with us. May we praise and thank you for all you bestow. May we make each day a day of giving thanks to you. Amen.

Dolphins’ DanceDolphins’ Dance

  Some days, as I walk on the beach, the dolphins seem to be playing with me, dancing off shore, changing direction as I change direction, watching and entertaining me.  I remember the day my husband and I put a deposit on our island lot.  As we returned to the campground, we saw dolphins in the water, cavorting and playing, seeming to put their stamp of approval on the bold move we were making.  How blessed we are!  Our creator has placed us in a world intended for joy and happiness, a world first made perfect.  Sometimes we glimpse that perfection and, like the dolphins, can only celebrate our creator’s greatness.  I thank you Lord, for the dolphins’ dance and for the beautiful world you’ve shared with us. Amen.