jars of clay

Knowing me well, my husband told me I needed to be prepared that “this”, the situation resulting from the pandemical world we are currently living in, might not go the way I think it will go. In a worst case scenario the world is at war. With sore and ever strengthening arms, we’re team-hauling five-gallon buckets from the lake. The kids are bare-foot and sun-kissed, waiting for the fish to bite. I’m in the woods gathering roots and tree bark, with the intention of treating injury and illness with poultices and tinctures.

Even our nightmares turn into fantasies. I told him I kind of assumed the Christian virtue of love would still apply, that should the financially worst thing happen and he loses his job or the camp runs out of money and heaven forbid, be forced to shut down, it’s not like they’d kick people out of a house. It might not look like that at all. It could just mean going back to work at the hospital or long-term care facility. There’s a “Now Hiring” sign outside the local nursing home after a recent outbreak of tenants and staff.

And working at a nursing home would look a lot like putting cream on Jim’s ears and helping Mary with her eye drops. You’d be spoon-feeding purees to the ones who won’t swallow and brushing out Lucy’s dentures at bedtime. It’d be squatting down to pull off Esther’s TED hose and rubbing lotion into her snow-flaking legs. No matter how many baths this person gets, there will always be the room that smells. There’ll be the man who takes one gigantic multivitamin in the AM and one who needs three cups for his pills.

Honestly that wouldn’t be too bad at all, but again, what good comes by flipping through the channels of what-if’s? What good does it do to spin the future in your mind, when you are not the one who holds it? It’s our faith being tested right now, not my arms. This is all too big for God not to have His sovereign hand in it. My Calvinist family members use that “sovereign” word a lot, and I think this just naturally ties into the Lord’s prayer part, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

The situations are big, but the prayers don’t have to be. And when my mind wanders off to a fearful place, a place I’ve not been led to by God, I imagine the good shepherd meeting me there saying, “Why don’t we turn around here and go back.” The real thing, the present moment, requires us to live with disappointment and loss, with pain and uncertainty. I don’t like that about life, and I never, ever, ever will. But while those things are real, they are not all that is, and are nowhere near the greatest and most powerful.

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