By Wendy Toda
Two Mondays ago, I was almost run down in two different crosswalks. This was only a few days after the mass shooting in my city. My heart rate didn’t even change when the truck turning left into the crosswalk stopped only a few feet from me. I felt zero emotion and only thought, “Hm, I guess it’s not my time to go.” before continuing on my way.
When there’s still plenty of emotional dust in the air, it’s hard to identify feelings beyond numbness and blankness. In the meantime, as if in a parallel universe, we keep moving through life without being particularly connected to it. My dust is slowly settling - it’ll take time, so I’m practicing being gentle with myself. I’ve been told numbness is a normal response, so I’ll be patient and let it run its course. Art has been my quiet companion in this place.
What throws emotional dust around in your inner landscape? Whatever you might be feeling or not feeling, please be kind to yourself there. Go slow. Maybe even slower, till the skies are clear enough for us to see where we are and make our way forward safely together.
None of us knows when it'll be our time. Let's live, love, and serve in the gift of this day.
Hounded By Grace
By Diane Pate
This photo appeared in a text on my phone one recent January night. Just as I, and a few family members and friends, were settling down to relax and enjoy the euphoria and quiet after a particularly special birthday party for one of our daughters. At first glance, I thought my sister was sharing with me the beauty of the Sierras around her little cabin during the latest storms. But something was out of place in this serene snowy scene. The leaning tree. Was it behind her cabin? It couldn’t be ON her cabin, could it?
A flurry of texts followed, beginning with this, “So this just happened. Neighbor’s tree. Took out chimney and went through our roof. On our way up now. What a nightmare.”
And just like that, our family peace was shattered.
The damage turned out to be extensive and will not be fully known until the spring thaws. My sister and her family are overwhelmed with the loss, and aftermath, and the waiting. But even more, they are awed by the goodness of God. For after a day of skiing, their plan had been to sleep at the cabin on the night the tree fell. Instead, feeling tired, they made the drive home.
Pondering my sister’s story, I realize, I too, am increasingly aware of God’s persistent goodness and protection, perhaps most especially in the dark places of my life. God’s grace and mercy chases after me all my days. I find that I need it most when anxiety and those inner troublesome truth distortions are my closest companions. KJ Ramsey writes in her book, The Lord is My Courage, that God’s love hounds us. God’s love does not simply follow us, like our dog might follow us into the woods. God hunts us down. We are haunted by beauty, and are being chased down by grace. Our lives are not about finding God. They are about being found.
We all need a way to root ourselves in this reality. We need reminders to turn our attention from all the harm that pursues us, to the God who pursues us more. We need daily spiritual practices, prompts, and rest to be brought back to this reality every single day. Take a few moments and name for yourself:
As you walk through the unknown of what each day brings, may you be easy in yourself, enjoying God and yourself, happy, useful and a lover of all.