Tag Archives: Charles Dickens

VISION 2020: Best of Times

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities

In 1859, Charles Dickens wrote a story. A story of civil war. Long ago – in 1969, I read that story again. A story that I had read first as a sophomore in high school but didn’t absorb. It was a country far away. A different culture. A country divided. I didn’t think much of it. When I re-read it, I had change. I had been quarantined to my home after a week spent in the hospital.  A week I don’t remember much about except one imprinted image of my daddy kneeling by my beside.  Mom told me later that they did that night after night. I had a bad case of mono that changed my journey. 

I think that is where we are now.  The world’s journey has changed.

When things weigh on my mind, i generally start reading – lots and lots and lots. Different genres. Different biases. Different forms of wisdom that circle and start to form a picture in my mind. A picture that I pray over and begin to look for confirmation from the Spirit that it is His wisdom that I am absorbing.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer 29:11

I have read too many articles to count since last Sunday night, but a couple have stuck with me. Two of them just happened to be written by Jewish rabbis. (I think I’ve said it before – but I don’t believe in coincidences)

One compared this time-out-of-time experience – this Pandemic 2020 – as a time-out. A time-out allowed by a Father who has seen His children struggling. A Father who loves His children so much that He knows they need a Sabbath rest – times of quiet – times away from the normal – times to re-think their journey- times to see what is right in front of their face – times to open their eyes and ears to what they have been given – times to seek the path to the Tree of Life that has been there since the beginning but has been cluttered by the dirt and grime of human life.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matt 6:25-26

The other article had nothing whatsoever to do with the Pandemic, but was all about the cherubs who guard the way to the Tree of Life. I’m still not sure how those two separate ideas are meshing together in my head, but something is still swirling them around together. I think I know what wisdom it is pointing out in my journey, but still waiting for the confirmation.

All-in-all, while this may SEEM to be the worst of times, this absolutely COULD BE the best of times. It depends on us. It depends on our choices. It depends on where we focus our eyes and our hearts.

“O God…For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 2 Chron 20:12

I’m certainly not looking forward to giving up my gym time. After all, who doesn’t like an hour of water play? (Notice – I didn’t mention the dreaded half hour of machine workouts.) I am definitely not looking forward to weeks without teaching, and all those hugs I get from my students. I’m unquestionably not looking forward to giving up my lunches with friends or picking up my Grands from school.

However – there are folders upon folders of writings and poetry that I have promised myself to finish. There are my lab girls who love having me take them outside a million times a day. There is a garden of lettuce (that I just planted today) that will need tending. There are letters to write to residents in nursing homes. There are care packages to send out. There is a path to look for to the Tree of Life.

As for me, on this unusual St. Patrick’s Day, I am thankful. Thankful for a Father who loves me enough to allow me to live in times like these. I am thankful for family and friends who continue to check in with me. I am thankful for the healthcare professionals who are on the front line of this “time-out-of-time”. I am thankful for the leaders who have been appointed to lead in these times.

“He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning” Dan 2:21

Most of all, I am thankful for the Father who sent His Son to walk beside me every step of this Pandemic 2020, and I am keeping my eyes on Him in the worst of times – in the best of times.

[Pastor Doug Bouquist photography/google image]

2 of 7: LOVE

2 of 7: LOVE. “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” ~Charles Dickens.

After teaching A Christmas Carol for so many years, there are lots of Dickens quotes that I LOVE. He was able to put into words what the rest of us just saw as anmom's stocking accepted reality without questioning ‘why’ it was an accepted reality. Children understand the beauty of the Christmas story even better than we do. Children LOVE easier than we do.  We have way too many everyday doubts and issues circling around us to see the unparalleled gift that was given on that night so long ago…LOVE that was given so long ago. But I also believe that our elders fall into this category. Some of the most special memories I have of my mom were during those last few years she spent upon this earth. She was so full of stories and LOVE that I couldn’t wait to go pick her up and bring her to the house (except when there was a bunch of snow and ice on the road…then – not so much). Usually we would sing Christmas carols all the way to the house or talk about her memories of past Christmases. She would tell me the story of her Christmas stocking every year, and it still hangs right beside mine. Just LOVE that stocking and the memories of the Christmases that it has seen since 1919.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismissd your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32

God honors children, elders or any of us who makes time to look for Him – in a stable – in a stranger’s face – in our enemy. God honored Simeon’s request to see the Savior before he died. The thing I really LOVE about this story is that God did His usual – He went above and beyond giving Simeon the dream he requested. He LOVED Simeon and blessed him greatly. Simeon actually held the Savior in his arms – kissed His downy head – and I imagine – dropped a few tears upon His tiny form as well. A baptism of salty water that would begin a sacred journey upon this world that was so unworthy of Christ’s presence. LOVE begats LOVE.

Cookies, Carols, Children, Characters, Christmas. Five C’s that take on a whole new connotation during our holyday season. Colored lights erupt in sporadic bursts. Magic circles swirl through the air. Elves hide behind every tree. Secrets float just beyond earshot. Presents pile up under the tree, while dormant dreams suddenly seem to slip from their slumbering state into a possible reality…for Simeon…for children…for you. It’s all about LOVE at Christmas —– or at least —– it should be.simeon

art by Ron DiCianni