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Keeps Me Running

My high school track career was cut short
by a stress fracture in my right tibia.

I always felt like it was because of nutrition.
Mom recently blamed herself and dad
for not getting me good shoes.

It was probably both, but I’ve also had it
in the back of my mind that it was God.

I would be an Olympian of another sort,
casting off mental weight and sin,
running with endurance the race, the
training for which would profit me,
for now and for eternity.

These days, it seems, my track failure
is being redeemed, seeing that, at 40, I’m
running each week at least five days,
training myself to run, in 30 minutes, 5k.

I might have never had the mind for this
had poor nutrition and bad shoes never
intervened. But now, I have the Mind.

It tells me it’s okay to buy Brooks and
that I must eat well if I want to run well.

The Mind tells me to keep running so that I
can at least keep up with a friend and
keep her on her toes,
which keeps me on my toes,
which keeps her on her toes
which keeps me on my toes
It’s become a cycle.

I keep running because
I’ve got the Mind for it now,
and the running gives me a high in
my mind and makes me want to run more
which is the Mind’s natural provision of motivation.

Running is showing me that perseverance and
consistency are indeed possible for me, and that
makes this mother-of-four-different-directions happy,

which keeps me running.

OMG!

God is real. As real as the trees in the forest, as your favorite warm-fuzzy, as the coffee you drink in the morning, as your job, as whatever earthly thing is most real to you.

He really is.

And he is as real as you and me.

And he has the same emotions as you and me – albeit in perfect and holy control.

He does. He does have the same emotions.

Inasmuch as he created us in his image, and we have emotions, then God has the same emotions.

I am not quite sure when it came into my mind, but at some point, I understood that God does not enjoy it when we use his name carelessly. I had always been taught that I shouldn’t exclaim, “Oh my God!” or “Jesus Christ!” or “Oh God!” or whatever other ways God’s name is mindlessly used by human beings. But, it wasn’t until I knew that God is real that I really understood why.

Since God is real and has emotions like us, I thought to myself, how would I like it if someone went around uselessly proclaiming my name, without even really wanting my attention? If someone went around saying “Oh Sarah!” or “Sarah Oyerinde!”? I imagine I would find that quite annoying.

In fact, I don’t have to imagine it because I’ve experienced it. When my husband and I first got married (I suppose he just loved me and thought about me so much), I would hear him proclaim my name at random times around the house – while he was cooking or performing other household chores. He did not need me for anything, or want my attention. He was just saying it vainly. At first, I would respond to it, because I thought he was calling out my name for something. But, as I realized he was doing it for nothing (well… kind of… calling out someone’s name because you love them may not be vain so much), I began to stop responding to it. (And actually, because he was doing it out of love, I found it sweet.)

But, the point is that it was initially annoying. And, if someone did that with your name and it wasn’t because they loved you, you would find it annoying, too. Maybe extremely. And since you are a human being, you might fly off in a fit of anger.

In the same way, it’s annoying for God.

God is wanting and desiring and waiting for that moment when we call out his name, so that he can come to our rescue and help us out. He is. (Check out 2 Chronicles 16:9.)

But, when we call out his name and we don’t really mean it – we don’t really want him or need him, but we’re just calling it out as a curse or calling it out in vain for no reason, then that is very disappointing to him.

I imagine God runs over to us and gets in our face and says “Yes? Can I help you?” And then when we don’t respond, or when we say something like “What, God? I didn’t call your name. I don’t need you”, he is left in confusion and perhaps feels a sense of rejection. The only difference in his emotions and ours is that, he can recover quickly from these kinds of hits, perhaps?

Well, we know he is “slow to anger” anyway, and won’t fly off in a fit of rage at us. But, that’s not an excuse, because the Bible doesn’t say he doesn’t get angry, but is just slow to anger, which means eventually, if we don’t heed, a bit of discipline (which is a grace) may be forthcoming.

But, I would advise to not wait for that grace, but to rather take the grace of this here perspective. And if you’re not into my thoughts here, then try the grace of Exodus 20:7 – “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

This Is What I’m Doing

Most days lately, you can find me reading books on racial justice as I sit in an old, plastic, green outdoors chair on my front porch, snug next to the porch rail. My daily reading-potentials (other books that I want to read, but likely won’t) rest on the rail along with a cup of black, dark-roasted coffee. You can find me there even when it’s 91 degrees out. I prefer warmth. But if the mosquitoes are out, likely you won’t find me there. The mosquitoes get on my nerves, and are one of the things that can drive me indoors.

Sometimes my kids drive me indoors, too. Like, if they come out on the front porch five times because they are bored, I usually run away indoors. Or, if they are fighting each other too much and it sounds like it’s about to get bloody and I need to intervene, then I go indoors. I also go indoors for them when I realize it’s about time to eat again and they need me to make something for them. Other than that, they’re pretty self-sufficient these days, and my husband has them on a summer learning schedule that they know they must follow and complete each day.

Anyhow, I’ve spent time out on my front porch reading White Awake by Daniel Hill over the past couple of days. (Sometimes I read it aloud to myself, pacing back and forth on my driveway – keeps me awake and focused.) I am reading it, and two other books, as part of the requirements for the OneRace Leadership Cohort.

The particular concept from the book that’s spinning my brain right now is the narrative of racial difference versus “the narrative of the kingdom of God” which “is informed by the imago Dei – that is, every human is created in the image of God” (Hill, 64). It may seem pretty obvious and basic like, “Of course everyone is created in the image of God, I believe that” and it may seem like no further exploration or explanation is needed. But, I have found it necessary to have this dichotomy expanded on.

First, the deeper explanation is making me awake to the narrative of racial difference that subconsciously infects our every moment. And I believe the narrative of racial difference doesn’t just affect white people, but it affects everyone, as there is colorism/hair-ism/eye-ism in the BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) community as well, that has been subconsciously ingrained into minds by white supremacy (go look up the academic definition of that “white supremacy”, if it’s cringe-y to you).

The narrative of racial difference is the narrative that runs throughout our systems and subconscious and it says… THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHITE PEOPLE AND EVERYONE ELSE, AND WHITENESS IS SUPERIOR. And it says that everyone who is not white is less than – or inferior – in one way or another – in intelligence, physique, hair texture, morality, spirituality, sexuality, etc.

Understanding in fullness the narrative of racial difference is important in being able to catch and correct one’s own mind, words, attitudes, and emotions in regards to non-whiteness. It’s also important in helping us to catch it and correct it in other people and in systems around us. And if you are a parent or teacher, it’s also important so you can catch it in and correct your children and students.

As I’ve been reading about this concept in White Awake, I periodically find myself daydreaming about things I’ve heard my children say in casual conversation around the house, and I imagine how from now on I will be paying careful attention so that I can correct them and talk with them about this narrative. Of course, I also need to pay attention to myself, and as I sit here writing this, I am thinking about the settings in which I would especially need to watch myself. For one, I need to watch myself in my church (which is largely populated with African people) and also in my job as a public school teacher (in which the school I work in is largely populated with Latinx students).

Catching oneself and others is an important step, but then there’s the correction part, which is where the other side of the dichotomy comes in, namely, being able to project the narrative of the imago Dei – that is “in the image of God”.

The narrative of the imago Dei is a deep concept, and it begins at creation in the book of Genesis in the Bible. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (KJV). And the Genesis creation account also says that God created mankind to dominate over animals and plants. But, it doesn’t ever say anything about mankind dominating over other human beings. The Genesis creation account has nothing in it about hierarchies of human beings. All humans, according to the Bible, are created in the image of God.

The Bible DOES show that, after sin entered into the world, people began to dominate over each other. But, that does not make it right – and again, God never created some people to be more superior to others, and others to be inferior. All humans are created in the image of God… there is absolutely no such thing as racial difference. Yes, people have different cultures, hair types, eye shapes, skin colors and all that, but even scientifically in genetics it has been proven that there is a 0.1% variation between all “races”. (http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/science-genetics-reshaping-race-debate-21st-century/)

Alongside of the message that “there are no racial differences in human beings”, is that human beings are made in the image of God. Hill explains it a bit in White Awake and points to some other verses in the Bible (and other books) to explain all that. But essentially it is a VERY sacred (I think that’s the right word to use here) truth. And, understanding and projecting this kingdom truth, with all of its depth, onto other people, through our attitudes, thoughts, words, actions and etc., is how we correct the narrative of racial difference.

At this point I don’t know, practically, what that looks like. But, I am imagining, for one, a repeated rehearsal in my mind of just looking at people and thinking to myself… “You are divine!” Maybe that’s a step in the process? I don’t really know. I haven’t finished the book yet. Hopefully I’ll get more practical ideas as I read.

In the meantime, it may look like at this point that I’m not doing anything about racial justice, or that I am tapering off, but let me just say… that you can’t see the work that’s going on inside my soul. I am indeed being reborn again. And that IS doing something. Thank God.

Writerly Intentions: Prompt 1

When I was a kid, I hated my name. It felt so much like… a kid name. And I didn’t want to be a kid. I wanted to be a grown-up, and wanted a grown-up name. I was not sure what name sounded more like a grown-up name, but I just felt like mine was not, and I hated it.

My aunt Amelia used to come around me and sing in her rich, clear voice, “Que sera, sera / whatever will be, will be”. I suppose she sang that to me because it sort of had my name in it. But, it was because of her that I began to warm up to my name. At the same time, sometimes people would call me “Sarah, plain and tall” in reference to a book that I’ve never read, and that almost destroyed it for me. I didn’t want to be plain… and I sort of had no feelings about being tall until I was taller than all the boys and understood what that looked like in the conventional realm.

It was my mom, actually, that saved me from hating my name eventually. She told me that my dad named me when I was born, and knowing that, touched my soul, because it meant that my dad indeed did think about me and cared for me, which was not something I felt much, because he was not very expressive of his love toward me – in the way that I needed it anyway – when I was a child.

I also started enjoying my name when I enjoyed the thought of being a princess and the mother of many nations. But that didn’t come until Christ delivered me from Godlessness and my gender and sexuality issues.

When I was a teenager, people at my church would refer to me as Alejo Vela’s daughter, or Mary Vela’s daughter. I began to love my name more then, too. I didn’t want to be known because of my parents, I wanted to be known for me. I wanted to be known as an individual, and not just known as someone’s daughter. I wanted to be known as Sarah, and for that name to mean something good.

So, while I started off not liking my name, I certainly love it now. But, no, though I didn’t like it, I also didn’t have an alternative, so there has never been another name I would have chosen for myself.

Recently, I have joined a writing community on Facebook led by Patsy Clairmont. Periodically, she and her team are posting writing prompts to challenge us to workout our writing muscles. Thus, I will be sharing these prompts and my responses to them here.

I Have A Disease – COVID-19 Quarantine Thoughts – April 4th

Thirty-six minutes. That’s how long it took me to run 5K today. I am getting back into the swing of it. I had been running consistently before the school year started last August, but, with my focus on mastering my career, running had just not been happening. Now, though, since I don’t have to rush home to meet our kids off the bus, and hustle with the evening routine, or take them to extra-curricular activities – and since the professor-husband is home, too, all the time now – I DO have a bit more time. So, I have been using some of the time to get back into running.

During my run today, I was thinking about the below tweet from Trillia Newbell:

I’ve noticed the “strange times” during my runs, too, over the past couple of days. For example, two women stood on the opposite sides of the road talking with each other – I made sure to run smack-dab in the middle of the road as I passed them, putting them each at an even distance away from me. As I passed, I held out an arm to each of them and shouted with a smile, “Six feet!” They laughed and shook their heads in understanding. I think one of them said something smart back to me, but I didn’t hear because I had my headphones on and music playing. I kept on smiling and running.

Yesterday I felt bad about it, but for whatever reason, today I felt really bad and self-conscious about it – that is, spitting on the road or off to the side into a yard. I ought to probably stop doing that, for the sake of other people’s conscious. But, I just don’t know what I’d do when I need to spit. You know how it is, if you’re a runner, there are just times you need to spit. Perhaps I could somehow rig a hydration pack with one of those spit suckers from the dentist’s office, instead of a straw? That would be an awkward sound, running down the road and passing by people… “shhhhhlurrrrrck”. Or, maybe I can carry an empty water bottle with me, and just spit into that? Gross – and awkward, too.


I’ve noticed some strange things on the road, too, as I’ve been running in the hood these days. I saw a pair of blue disposable gloves. I remember I saw the Amazon delivery guys wearing some like that the other day when they delivered next door. At first when I saw those lying there on the road (in a completely different part of my hood, by the way), I threw my hands up in annoyance and shook my head. “Why couldn’t the folks have disposed of them properly?” was the question running through my mind. But after a few days, when I saw them again, I thought to myself – “No, that’s alright. That’s probably good. Just drop the gloves there, and if there is any virus on them, the virus will die off in the heat. They’ll be cleaned up later, after they’ve been beaten good with the sun.”

In another part of the neighborhood, I was assaulted by a used condom lying on the road. Likely it was dropped there from an immoral car session, because, ain’t no decent, MORAL human being gonna be so NASTY. (At least I hope not. And if you are, shame on you! Repent. Ask God to forgive you and help you. Get your act together, and stop that. No, really.) The other day when I walked by that particular place in the road, the thing was gone…. at least I thought it was. When I ran by there again today, it was there again! Believe me, I ran WAY on the other side of the road, like the priest and Levite – ain’t gotta be no good Samaritan to that thing – and tried to show as much disgust as possible. And, O BOY, was I ever so tempted to yell at the people I saw in the driveway of the house in which the thing was in front of. REALLY tempted.

And then I saw THIS on the road. This was a happy and caring message, but still strange…


Early in my run today, I was listening to the Dwell audio Bible app, and specifically, Matthew 7:17-20:

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

As I listened to this, I had a moment of conviction, because I am not – and my marriage and family are not – producing good fruit like I think we ought to be (*sarcastically* according to my flawless, angelic point of view). And so, I compulsively raised my hands up and prayed out loud (yes, as I was running), “God, help me, I have a disease!” And in a split second I remembered that I was in public, and that we are in the time of COVID-19 (although, I didn’t see anyone around me in my immediate or peripheral vision) and I quickly continued to say out loud, “Not the coronavirus. I don’t have the coronavirus, but rather, disease of the soul.” And I continued more quietly, in all sincerity, asking God to help me with the disease of my soul – and the disease in my family life.

And, AMEN. He’s a good father and I know he’s heard my prayer and I am going to see miracles.


Strange times.

Be Still – COVID-19 Quarantine Thoughts – Spring Break

She had moved here for this. Once the night finally arrived and she was nestled into her space – her door-less space in the middle of the upstairs part of the house, which served as the thruway to the stairs and closet – she knew what she had to do. On her very first night at Olive Street, she stole away into the “prayer closet” and knelt down at the couch thing-y. (The couch thing-y was a large piece of foam, covered with cloth, shaped like a couch, and had no ability to support a back.)

Earlier that day when she arrived, her housemates had introduced her to the closet, which was a walk-in space, lined with hanging clothes on two opposite sides, and door-less. On the opposite side of the… non-door, there was a window, and situated underneath the window was the couch thing-y. On the wall of each side of the closet non-doored entrance was a hand print of oil from where one of them had anointed the closet when they had prayed over the house before moving in. The hand prints had an empty space in the middle of them, and it had reminded them of the nails driven into the hands of the crucified Christ.

When she knelt at the couch thing-y, she imagined that Christ was sitting there (although, it was very uncomfortable for him. “Sorry, Lord,” she thought to herself, “this is kind of awkward for you. I’m sure your back is getting tired.”) But she carried on anyway, as if he were there as her father and she were a little girl laying her head on his lap.

As she laid her head in his invisible lap, tears streamed down her face, because she had needed an affectionate, comforting father for so long. She did not know what drove her to have such thoughts about God, but she allowed these thoughts to come and carried on there with him. In her soul, she knew all she needed was him, his invisible presence and comfort, his reality. But her mind would not be still. Her mind would not allow her to rest. She needed something to combat the condemning thoughts that struck her from within and created stress throughout her entire body.

Worthless

Ugly

Insufficient

Unloved

Unwanted

Failure


She unfolded herself from kneeling and stretched out on the couch. In her mind, and in whispers to herself, she began repeating the name of Jesus Christ and forced herself to think of his sacrifice on the cross.

It seemed to her, somehow, like a logical way to subdue the negative thoughts which she knew were not okay. And it was, as peace beyond her understanding began to settle her.

After a moment, the religious cliches and condemnations crept back into her thoughts. She wrestled momentarily before she caught herself and fought back with repeating the name of Jesus Christ over and over again. Then again peace came, then more condemning thoughts jarring her soul, then the fighting with the name of Jesus Christ, then peace. The cycle repeated itself until eventually her mind quieted with the name of Jesus Christ and thoughts of his love on the cross, and she faded into sleep.

Thunder woke her. She opened her eyes with a jolt. A lightning bolt flashed above her out the window and rain drizzled down the glass. She didn’t like being next to the window while it stormed, but she wasn’t exactly scared. She dashed out of the closet to her bed. She glanced at the clock: it was around 2 AM. Had she really slept for that long? She closed her eyes and immediately slept again.

She never forgot that night, and she had many more moments like it in the days, months, and years in her future.

It turned out that it wasn’t really a strange or unique experience after all. Jesus Christ had often gone to solitary places to pray. Moreover, many verses in the Bible describe and encourage her meditative type behavior.

  • Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10)
  • Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)
  • Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… (Hebrews 12:2)
  • … bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • …whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)
  • Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)


She had begun to believe that she was strange for her experience and that probably she had gone off on a heretical bunny trail some where. So many people around her – even her closest friends and family – had never had this experience and did not practice this.

In fact, the whole world around her seemed to always whirl and swirl with something that looked like thinking about God – about Jesus Christ. Everyone seemed to want to do things well, and to do things right, and to be helpful and useful, and all that was good. But, it seemed to her that many were doing it in their own effort, or for many there was a motive that was getting them no where in particular.

Even she got swept up into the hustle and bustle, but not without a fight from within her soul. It was just all wrong somehow. The system around her was driven by a mad capitalism – a love of money – and it was turning her and everyone into thoughtless, soulless, working machines, who, not only ran around in ceaseless tension and stress, but also provoked others, fairly and unfairly, into the same slavish, soulless drudgery. She couldn’t help but suspect that this was the aftertaste of the “Puritan work ethic” that set her country’s founding fathers on fire inside with inhumane behavior that enslaved and mistreated others.

She was honestly happy that, almost 20 years after her experience with Jesus Christ in the Olive Street prayer closet, COVID-19 stopped the whole world. But when the whole world had slowed in its spinning and whirling and swirling out of control, she didn’t know how to slow her own spinning and whirling. In fact, she couldn’t exactly, because she had a husband, four children, and a career that kept on going and wouldn’t sit still. And she had her own mind that wouldn’t sit still.

Practically speaking, of course, she couldn’t just abandon her life. But, she had to slow down, at least, and learn to be still in different ways. She didn’t know what it meant for her to be still in this time of her life. She didn’t know what she needed to be still from.

Or did she? If she let herself really think about it, she needed to be still from her careless buying and her wasting, and her careless use of time. Be still from her careless use of technology and always having her mind occupied with a screen – a new and interesting app, her social media accounts, her constant search for just the right combination of instrumental composition and lyrics, and her desire to be overly and self-glorifyingly significant in her creativity.

She needed to be still from cutting off her husband and children in mid-sentence because she just didn’t have the patience to care and listen, but had many, she thought, other important things she needed to work on and do and think about. At the same time, she needed to be still from not saying “no” at the proper time, and “yes” – at the proper time – which had to do with her aforementioned careless use of time.

She needed to be still in many other ways, and the world needed to be still in many ways, and would they all learn to do it before this thing came to an end? At least to some degree? Would she be able to reset?

She needed a reset.

Let Me Hear Your Voice

I’m tired Lord, all I want is you
So many voices Lord, all I want is yours

So let me hear your voice
Tell me that you love me
Show me who you are
I want only you

I’m sick of playing games, I just want reality
Don’t need religious cliches, all I need is a word from you

So let me hear your voice
Tell me that you love me
Show me who you are
I want only you

The Name – a Sonnet for the Church in the Time of COVID-19 – March 23rd

The Name

COVID-19 – the name on tips of tongues
the world over. My soul’s weary from it.
This household name demands breath from the lungs
enough. Must I, too, lift voice and submit?

Devil’s name glories above holy writ,
relentlessly violent, demanding
my awe, obedience, and every wit.
But Holy Spirit leads, not withstanding

the rationale of social disbanding,
to the glory of Love and Christ in us,
to the glory of Christ Overcoming
Viruses and Infectious Diseases

We’re winning as we rest in the Lamb’s blood.
We’re winning as we speak of His strong love.


  • Poem Pre-write – a sonnet
    • Literally a “little song,” the sonnet traditionally reflects upon a single sentiment, with a clarification or “turn” of thought in its concluding lines. There are many different types of sonnets.
    • The Petrarchan sonnet, perfected by the Italian poet Petrarch, divides the 14 lines into two sections: an eight-line stanza (octave) rhyming ABBAABBA, and a six-line stanza (sestet) rhyming CDCDCD or CDECDE.
    • The Spenserian sonnet is a 14-line poem developed by Edmund Spenser in his Amoretti, that varies the English form by interlocking the three quatrains (ABAB BCBC CDCD EE). (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/sonnet)
  • Employs iambic pentameter.

Too Much Safety – COVID-19 Quarantine Thoughts – March 19th – 22nd

I’ve been taking walks in the hood every day during this quarantine – by myself at times, and with my kids every time. Sometimes I get two walks in a day; a longer walk or run by myself (for the sake of my sanity), and a shorter walk with the kids (or a longer one if I didn’t have one by myself). Usually this walking happens after everyone – everyone of the kids, anyway – is done with their digital learning day work. It’s a bit of a recess and a time for exercise. Sometimes the kids play in the driveway afterward.

I think this is the most exercise the middle-schoolers have gotten in a long time. Sadly, in our American public society, we don’t believe in exercise and playtime enough to put it into the curriculum of middle, high school, and college… or even to include it in our adult work schedules. We would work so much more efficiently, I am certain of that, if we had time to play and exercise every day. We’d be healthier, too, mentally, spiritually, and in our relationships. But alas, we don’t have it in our curriculum, and so we have to make time for it for ourselves and sometimes we’ve been working more than eight hours a day, and then some, (because that’s what this relentless, unsympathetic system demands from us) and by the time we get home we’re too tired to do anything else, and so we tell ourselves we’ll do it tomorrow, until tomorrow becomes the next year and we’ve blown up like porkers.

In this quarantine time, though, during these walks, anyway, I can’t help but to think about Ray Bradbury’s short story The Pedestrian. It’s a sci-fi, sort of dystopian, futuristic story in which a man – Leonard Mead – goes for a walk around the empty city on a cold November evening. As he walks he notices lights from screens flickering behind drawn curtains, and sometimes he sees shadows of people moving about on walls of homes where curtains are not drawn. As he walks, he enjoys different things in his surroundings and we are made aware that every day for the past 10 years since he has been walking, he has never met another person out and about walking. As Mr. Mead is about to reach his home, he is stopped by a police car, which the reader learns is the only police car left in the city because there is no crime and no need for police. Because of other details in the story, I assume that there is no crime because everyone is locked up in their homes, watching screens. Eventually what happens is that Mr. Mead is taken by the police car (which is empty and controlled by a computer or remotely controlled) to the “Psychiatric Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.”

Anyhow, all this is to say that, while I have personally been enjoying this quarantine time – which has been a time to slow down and actually live with and look long at the faces of my husband and children, and also a time to spend more with God and have him work on my soul – it’s also been a time when we’ve been rather locked up. We’ve been on our screens a lot, and besides going out for daily walks, we’ve been inside a lot. And I don’t like it. It’s not healthy. But, it is what it is right now, and I am just praying that this kind of stuff doesn’t continue on, and that we human beings will not get to the point like they did in the Ray Bradbury story (which, by the way, is set in 2053) where we lock ourselves up in our houses with our screens for the sake of fear.

On Sunday, I forced the entire family to stay off of screens, and I must say it was tough (especially for the youngest boy). But eventually – late at night – everyone was fine with it and we were actually all playing games together at the kitchen table.

Good News – COVID-19 Quarantine Thoughts – March 18th

Allusion to Titanic Movie; 1997

The above video alludes to the scene in Titanic when the ship is sinking, people are panicking and jumping ship, and in the midst of it all, a trio of musicians plays on. While this video is supposed to be funny (and it is funny), I am finding it kind of prophetic for my own role (and maybe your role, too?) in the midst of this pandemic.

This morning I read from the Bible in Matthew 4:23 again (I moved into Matthew 5, too, which is Jesus’ sermon on the mount). But, my soul clung to, specifically in 4:23, where it says “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.” The word “gospel” as we may or may not know, means “good news”, and “the kingdom” is the kingdom of God, or the heavenly kingdom. And my mind wandered to the news that I’ve been reading over the past couple of days.

I’ve been reading news by the New York Times of the kingdoms from all over the world. Some of the news has been good or hopeful, but a lot of it has been negative. I also just thought about the news in general, and how it brings us stories and information of different places and people, and again how most of it is negative, but sometimes good. But whatever it is, it DOES express the stories and information from a place or people.

In the same way, Jesus Christ proclaimed the gospel – GOOD news only – from the kingdom of God. Which means that he proclaimed good stories and information from another realm – from the heavenly, unseen, spiritual, pure, holy realm.

And with those thoughts, I am a bit in awe because I have never thought of it this way, that everything that Jesus Christ did and said was proclaiming stories and information from heaven, which made me want to go back and read all the gospels over again (which I am doing). But also, it made me want to proclaim, and hold out in my attitude and actions, the good news, in the midst of all of this. I want to keep on playing beautiful music and holding out beautiful things from heaven in the midst of all of this. That is my role, and that is our role together. When we hold out the beautiful things, then beauty is sure to come, as Christ said in that sermon on the mount – “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7).