We are certainly living during a time of anxiety and even fear. Those of us who are old enough to remember the Second World War and the polio epidemics during our childhood know that fear and anxiety that is again a part of our lives. It was terrifying to awake hearing the scream of a blaring siren. It was frightening to read about the blitzkrieg in Europe and to hear the rantings of Adolph Hitler on the radio. Food was rationed as was gasoline. You could not take your family on a Sunday afternoon ride. Meat was rationed, and sugar was a scarce commodity. One of our favorite lunches was Franco/American spaghetti. That was nowhere to be found for it was shipped overseas to our armed forces.
When summer approached, we knew that the illness of polio would be on us again. We could not go to the beach or swimming pool or gather in large groups. Back then, it was fear of not being able to walk again or to be put on an iron lung machine to help you breathe. Yes, there are a lot of similarities with my childhood and our life today. So how do we handle our changed lives from day to day? This Covid-19 is not going to just disappear – it appears it is going to be present in days and even years to come. Are we capable of living day to day with the thought of an early death or an illness that harms us and takes away the lives of those we love? What is the best way to remove our anxiety and fear?
Now this pastor named Ken cannot remove all anxiety and fear for you or for his own daily life – but I can make some suggestions about how you and I can live in these days of uncertainty and social separation.
The first thing we need to turn to is our Christian faith. Jesus tells us we should not spend endless hours in worry and fear. He speaks of the world of nature around us telling us not to worry about tomorrow. “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to is stature? Why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. He concludes by saying, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things”. Jesus tells us that we need to take life one day at a time. “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” In other words, if during the day’s trouble comes, face it then, not worry about it yesterday.
At night when we go to bed (and I speak as well here for myself), I try not to go to sleep having just listened to the news. No, when I go to bed, even if I have foolishly listened to the horrendous, splendiferous (they think), newscasters, I rather seek to thank God for the day He has given to me ( and sometimes I forget to do that). Then I turn to good dreams of tomorrow. How important this is to have a hope, a task, and a dream for tomorrow. When I go to bed, I think of my projects for the next day.
I’ve been constructing a pair of jointer chairs in my shop. Early Americans used these chairs to help keep them warm during the cold days of winter. The wings on the chair helped to capture the warm air from the fireplace. These are really unusual chairs that I found illustrated in a book on furniture, and I have thought night after night just how I would construct them and glue them together. They are not finished yet but here is a picture of them so far. If you have a plan or a dream for tomorrow, it helps keep the worries away, and sleep comes with a smile.
I’ve also been reading a book with my granddaughter that I have told you about in our walk together. When I think of reading with her, it makes tomorrow look brighter in spite of our isolation. If I think of Maddie and Dale cooking together in a Facetime, I have to grin from ear to ear.
Sometimes I even think before I go to sleep of my age. It is difficult to believe that your age is eighty -five. But I always recall on May first that I had a heart-attack on that day when I was thirty-eight years old. I never believed I would live to age sixty-five or to see the year 2000, but here I am. If tomorrow was not to be for me do you not think as I think, how grateful I should be to God for having given to me a happy home, a wonderful wife, several loving children and grandchildren and a long life. When I think that how could I, go to sleep without gratitude in my heart?
I’ll not pretend that it is easy to get out of bed in the morning with all the aches and pains that come with age, but love of family, of my friends, and the people I know, my love of Jesus Christ, my Christian faith. All together they put a smile on my face. So, I get out of bed groaning but then thinking of today. Today, I will be greeted by my wife, Dale, Molly, my dog, will greet me as if I was the greatest gift in her life. I’ll probably do the laundry that will make Dale smile. I’ll talk about laundry on another walk. Now that is something to look forward to, isn’t it? I’ll wait for Maddie’s phone call to read with her, I’ll go down cellar and work on my jointer’s chairs and get tired and will be ready by nine o’clock for bed. After supper and some tv or reading a book and then thanking God for the day and dream dreams for tomorrow, I plan on going asleep without worrying about tomorrow. Will you join me tonight and promise less worry about tomorrow and more dreams of what joys the next day will bring?
Please join me for our walk next week. In Christian love, Ken.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”