It was snowing this morning. Here it is the dawn of Spring. and it is snowing. Shut in our home, warm and blessed are we to have shelter. Home is more than a shelter, isn’t it? When it is blessed, it is a place of kindness, acceptance and love. Outside there may be raging storms, but inside we are comforted by each other and by a loving, caring God. We need that presence of God in our lives.
Since Dale and I moved to New Hampshire, I have belonged to a church book group. How I have come to love and respect the twenty- two or so who gather to discuss a book of mutual interest. We meet on Thursday which is today. We could not meet as gatherings are called off from the threat of this new stubborn virus. But we did meet through a program called Zoom. Each one of us was in our own home, and yet, we were able to get together. How good it was to see the different faces and to hear the voices we have come to love and consider our church family. Members spoke of their concerns and their needs, one of them being shared prayer. Each one spoke of how meaningful it is to have love and to be able to be together to share our daily lives.
In our country, we have been so fortunate to be able to gather together in freedom in small and large groups. How strange it is to be separated for a time in concern for each other’s welfare. It is necessary that we do so now to protect each other. And we are fortunate in our world of technology that we cannot only talk to each other but that we can see each other as well, as long as we have a modern phone or computer.
In this trying time, families are beginning to come to know each other again. In so many families, mom, dad and children are now all home together. It is a return to the days when mom was home with the children, and dad was at work. Yet, it is different for now dad is home as well. Home schooling for most children in this country has become the norm. Homelife as we have known it for so many years has now changed. Families are going to have to be more thoughtful of each other than they have had to be for decades. If mom and dad are working from home and the children are there for school and play, scheduling the day is going to take a lot of consideration and thoughtfulness from each person.
Years ago, when my dad was a boy, each child in the family had a task, and all had responsibilities that had to be met. On the farm in Barrington, my Uncle Paul was in charge of the horses, Uncle Warren in charge of the cows, my Uncle John in charge of the chickens and my father’s lot fell to taking care of the pigs. As the boys in that family had so many responsibilities, so did the girls. There were nine children, five boys and four girls. The gardening was done equally by the boys and the girls. How many times we heard about how wonderful Aunt Miriam’s strawberry patch was kept, and how it flourished. As married adults, all of the men and women in that family had gardens. Aunt Miriam had the most beautiful flower garden you could ever hope to see. Perhaps in this time, our children are going to learn about sharing in the workload of home and how to be responsible for each other’s welfare. As team sports are no longer allowed for a time, our children and grandchildren are going to have to put up with each other and maybe even get to like each other more than they ever believed. When you cannot play with your friends at school, just maybe you will like to play with your brother or sister. In this rather frightening time, we need to support each other, and our family units need to be committed and strong.
As a young boy, one of seven children, we did not have antibiotics, nor did we have the vaccines we have today. We had scarlet fever in our home at one time, measles at another, whooping cough and chicken pox. When we had a communicable disease, our home was quarantined for a certain number of days. No one would enter our home. Bottles of milk were left on the back step and groceries were delivered to our home. We did not go out and play with other children and we all had to stay home when one of us had a contagious disease. Trays of food were brought to each one of us that was ill by a brother or sister who was for a time well. When they became ill then it was the child that had recovered who brought the tray to them. There was a fear of heart damage from those illnesses, so we were required to remain in bed. We HAD to be thoughtful and considerate of each other.
Then there was the most dreaded disease of all, a crippling disease and also a deadly one, polio. Our president had polio. In the hot summer that disease would be out of control and we were not allowed to go to the movies or to a swimming pool or where many people were gathered. Not as extreme as today, but equally as dangerous. It was a day when families had to watch over each other and be thoughtful of their neighbors. We have returned to those days. How I wish we had not, yet out of evil times can come goodness and we are seeing that as many are now so thoughtful and considerate of each other’s health. THIS MUST BE OUR SHINING HOUR. THIS MUST BE A TIME OF LOVE AND KINDNESS AND THOUGHTFULNESS. IT MUST NOT BE A TIME OF SELF CENTEREDNESS AND SELFISHNESS. IT IS A TIME TO THINK OF OTHERS AS WELL AS ONESELF; AND THIS IS HAPPENING.
I love my Christian faith as other religions love their beliefs. But for me, the best example of kindness and love comes from the life and teachings of Jesus, whom we call the Christ. He was not thinking of himself as he cured the leper or as he healed the crippled. He was not thinking of himself when he saw poverty and injustice; he was thinking of others. He did not hoard possessions so that he might live, he gave away and shared what he had. This is a time to think about the life of Jesus and to pray that we might have his love and courage; that we might think of others maybe even before ourselves.
With so many of our families at home, it is time to teach our children and our grandchildren the love of Jesus. Perhaps there needs to be a family time to share stories of the day and stories of our faith. It is a time to even pray at bedtime with our children, that God might watch over them during the night.
Years ago, when I had a young family, I began what was called “family time.” It was from six-thirty until seven in the evening when I had to leave for church meetings. For a time, I shut out my work and I asked each of the children what they had done that day. How well I remember my son Ken saying to me,” Dad why are you speaking in that strange voice?” it was a voice of kindness and quietness, not one of shouting for order among five children. We shared our day, me as well’ and then after a bible story we might sing Jesus Loves Me; even with my terrible singing voice. Do you know? The children began to ask in anticipation if we were going to have a family time. How great is my regret that I did not continue sharing time for a long while. I thought I was just too busy – foolish man . Please, don’t be too busy. Spend some family time with your family – now is a time when that will hold your families together in respect and love.
God be with you and me and with all His children.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”