God writes straight with crooked lines. Just the other day a longtime friend sent me an email that said somehow she missed my New Year’s reflection that included a survival kit for the New Year and new decade. Though I sent the reflection in January, she didn’t read it until just last week. She insisted that the reflection was perfect for the challenging situation we are now in with the coronavirus. I really resisted but she kept insisting. You see, I had other plans.
To keep her quiet, I told her she would have to give me some new things to add to the survival kit. Dang, if she didn’t come up with three. I still wasn’t sure it was the right message but then the day came when I had to write the reflection and Murphy’s Law reigned! (Someday I’ll share with you the day). So, here I am sending you a survival kit for the time during this coronavirus.
You have to work a little for this reflection. Procure a paper bag and place in it the following items: a rubber band, a piece of ribbon, a birthday candle, a broken pencil, and a penny. Into that bag also add these last three items my friend suggested: a balloon, a roll of toilet paper, and a small mirror. So during this time of sheltering in place, look at the items and consider the following:
The rubber band helps to teach us about flexibility. It also teaches us how to stretch ourselves to experience new adventures and circumstances. But as we know, we can’t over stretch or else the rubber band will break. Learn how to stop before the breaking point.
The piece of ribbon teaches us not to tie ourselves down to other’s opinions or values especially if they don’t correlate with our own values. Learn to be free enough to live with our own set of values, seeking the good.
The birthday candle reminds us to celebrate each day. There is always something good that happens within our day that we can celebrate. It could be a friendly call or a drive by visit from a friend, an unexpected note, or a Zoom chat. As my former student always says – “Live every heartbeat!”
The broken pencil tells us that all learning doesn’t come from books. Life has lessons to teach us but we need to be present to the moment we are living in. Awareness is key. It may be as simple as looking in a new way at the same thing we’ve done over and over. Or it might be spending some quiet time so we can hear what God is trying to tell us about our life situations. It is learning to be aware of the world around us. Don’t take things for granted.
The penny, we are certainly familiar with the saying “a penny for your thoughts.” Someone once said I need to have more conversations instead of lectures. When we are asked for our thoughts, are we able to give them and then listen to the other person? That can be tough as many times we are forming our response instead of listening. Are we able to share our thoughts as well as be concerned about the other person? This can be a real balancing act.
The balloon, to remember to breathe. Sometimes (always) we need to breathe in ....and out. The breath is our spirit and connects us to the Spirit (in Hebrew ruach means moving air, breath, or the Spirit of God).
Toilet paper, because _ _ _ _ happens, but we have the tools to deal with it. (Besides, toilet paper is very valuable now days.)
A mirror, to see what has changed and what hasn’t in our living out what is happening presently.
Lastly, let us not forget the bag. If there are some things that are still taking up space in our heads, place them in the bag, and then throw it out or blow it up like a balloon and stomp on it. No need carrying it around during our sheltering-in-place. Or if we have some concerns, we can place them in the bag after praying about it and put it in a special place where God can take care of it. Trust him -- he is always there.
Now you have it -- Your “Survival Kit for 2020” and the coronavirus. My guess is that it may come in handy. I guess my friend was right and this does make sense for now. Thanks, Mimi, for helping God write straight with crooked lines.
Till next week,
PS If you have any other ideas about what could go in the bag, don’t hesitate to send the ideas to me. I love friendly mail. We may have to create a survival bag for the ‘new normal’ as we begin to gather again.