Do you remember writing about summer vacation for the first assignment of the school year? What would you write this year?
I am tallying up a number of gains and losses.
The hardest loss was not being able to see my children who live far away. I also missed attending a family wedding in California. Closer to home, I missed a number of church activities and celebrations. Due to significant risk factors in my family, I have had to remain more isolated while life has returned to near normal for the people around me.
But there have also been gains. All of the isolation has afforded me time to write. It has given me time to research and gain some perspective on this current cultural moment. I have thought and read more deeply about race and history and the sin that so permeates our world.
Being alone with my son who has intellectual disabilities has helped me to appreciate the humor in some of his quirks and obsessions instead of merely being annoyed by them.
My gratitude at being able to live where I do has deepened. Weathering a pandemic is easier when you live far from the city.
I am slowly gaining traction in living on purpose in my new normal instead of hopping between a patchwork of short-term solutions.
Many of us have seen life accelerate crazily during this summer of Covid. Like a twisty mountain road we have found ourselves first traveling in one direction, and then another, wondering how many more times we must spin the wheel before we arrive at our destination.
Others of us have seen life slow to a crawl while we wait for “normal” to resume, an objective that, like a mirage, keeps moving farther and farther away, always just out of reach.
But we were made for more than pinning our hopes on some mysterious “new normal” that will gather our angst and pain and confusion into a tidy parcel for us to tuck in the back closet of our memories.
We were created, instead, for life: to grieve and rejoice, to bear hard things and celebrate the sunshine, to love deeply and live for a higher purpose. “I have come that they may have life,” Jesus said, “and life abundant.” He wasn’t talking about an easy life; He meant a life that means something, a life that is filled with purpose no matter our circumstances.
A generous life is a meaningful life.
A grateful life is an abundant life.
This time of Covid isn’t an interruption to our lives; it is instead a vital part of our story on this earth. We can mourn our losses and also look for ways to leverage this season for gain.
I confess, though, that I find myself wasting time, waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen. The weight of the world’s troubles presses on my spirit and saps my strength. Do you feel it too? Even so, I am convinced that every discouragement, every setback, holds value.
Jesus told a story about a man who found a treasure hidden in a field, and for the joy of his discovery, purchased the field in order to gain the treasure buried out of sight.
The most valuable treasure is often hidden in dark and dirty places.
I am working to find the treasure hidden in these dark times. If we determine to live – truly live – embracing the life we have instead of wasting our days waiting for something different, then we will, indeed, find treasure. Even better is determining to create treasure from the scraps of our disappointments.
In Proverbs it says, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
This time next year, may we all be able to say that what we did during this, the strangest of all summers (and years) was holy and good and nourished the souls of others. May we be treasure-seekers, bringing goodness and hope to bear on this season of darkness, filling the rooms of our souls with things rare and beautiful and sharing those riches with those who are still stumbling their way toward hope.