Phillipians 4:11; I Thessalonians 5:18
I moved to Albuquerque last June. I wanted out of the cold, the humidity and the mosquitoes in Illinois that locked me inside for much of the year. And Albuquerque was a good choice - as was St John’s. And I settled in - hiking with Mountain Cathedrals and friends, enjoying my new home. During the winter, I dreamed of all the things I could do and where I could go in New Mexico in the spring.
But then before spring came, along came COVID-19. Denial, then worry, then stay-at-home orders, masks and “no closer than six feet.” Not at all what I expected. Anything but what I had expected. I expected trips to see children and grandchildren; I got Facetime. I expected to explore New Mexican food in restaurants with friends; I got takeout - alone. I expected frequent trips with friends to scenic vistas ; I got friends who were also isolating, and a car on the fritz. I expected to invite friends over for game nights; I got to play Scrabble against the computer.
To say my expectations were upended would be an understatement. And it has happened to all of us.Our world is not the same and we are all profoundly affected. And the uncertainty and the change is not just for now - but for the future as well. Will anybody I know get COVID-19? Will I? Will anybody I know die of it? Will anybody in my family die? Will I?
So in very early March, as all this was starting to sink in, I did what came most naturally to me - I started to prepare. (I tell myself I am a person who has back-up plans to my back-up plans!) I bought staples of rice and beans and made sure I had necessary medicines. I got ready - and waited.
Now while I am very capable of practical preparation - it’s not always the same on the spiritual front. Too often I go about seeking a solution on my own, instead of calling on God. But this time, God gave me a gift of music and a gift of scripture that spoke to me and quieted my heart.
The music: one of my favorite hymns, “Now Thank We All Our God.” It is not my favorite just because of the words, but because of the story behind these words. It was written by Martin Rinkhart, a pastor in Germany during the time of the Thirty Year War and the Black Death. In a few years time, he presided over almost 5000 funerals and saw such famine come to the town that people fought over dead rats for food. Utter misery. And yet he could write this hymn,which has always humbled and inspired me - but this time it calmed me, centered me, brought me back from myself to God.
The scriptures: Phillipians 4:11. “...I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” And I Thess 5: 16-18 “...give thanks in all circumstances …” Again, a gift from God for me in this upending time - and a gift because through them God changed me.
And so now, I find myself, strangely (by the world’s standards) content. Not living in the future - but more than I have ever in my life - living in the now. And - miraculously - I am not even worrying if this state will last through this or other disasters and life changes. I am just so grateful for God’s gift of contentment to me in the here and now.
“God, thank you for being with us in this difficult time. Our needs right now are as varying as we are. Lord,just help us to look to you and not to ourselves in this time and to open
ourselves to receive your gifts to us. And we especially ask for the gift of Your contentment even in these times. Amen”
-- Lyn Fitz, Stephen Minister In-Training