Like the rest of you, I’ve been shocked to near speechlessness by the state of our city, our country and our world. Not that any of it’s a surprise, really. We just didn’t think it would begin so suddenly, or hit so close to home as quickly as it did.
I haven’t published any of my SAPs in weeks now. Though I continue to pour out my heart in my journal each morning, all of the emotions rise up and make it impossible to even pray coherently. Thank goodness I know that God hears me, even when I can’t form words.
I still find myself wondering how such chaos can be possible when, just three months ago, life was so perfectly normal. While I find great solace in my faith and in my own community of family and friends, I’ve had many moments of shock, fear, anger and sadness.
So I ran away from a world that seems to have gone crazy. Twice now, over the past three weeks. First when COVID-19 hit too close to home, then from the rioting and looting that followed the murder.
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I’m presently 200 miles north of my home in the Twin Cities, near the end of a narrow and rutted dirt road in the middle of nowhere. My rustic cabin is surrounded by towering jack pines and relentless mosquitos. There’s no running water or heat, no cable or Internet or telephone service. Cell coverage is spotty at best, though a call can most times be made from the end of the dock or in a clearing about a mile back up the road. I love it for all of those reasons.
Even in the best of times, the world disappears up here in “God’s Country.” In one day alone, I encountered such an array of startling events that I forgot all about the troubles that had overwhelmed me.
First, as I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee looking out at the sun sparkling through the woods and weeds to the lake below, a big black bear came sidling along the cabin wall from the right. He lifted his enormous head, and looked right at me. We both startled and ran—him for the woods, me to slam shut the patio door that had been left wide open to catch the warm morning breeze.
You’d think that would have taught me to keep the patio door closed. Nope. It was a beautiful day, so I shut only the screen door when I left to go kayaking. Big mistake. But I’m jumping ahead of the story….
I was the only one on the entire lake—the only human for miles, in fact. I paddled around for a full two hours, just breathing in the beauty of nature. The resident eagle soared overhead as I came upon a scruffy-headed Merganser duck sitting on a neighbor’s dock. I heard fish jump and a turtle drop into the water from his sunny spot on a log. But my best sightings were the pairs that reminded me of Noah’s ark: Two loons in the open water a ways out from my dock, and a little while later, two green-headed mallards in the reeds next to the big island. Finally, two white geese—probably the same ones who had awakened me that morning with their honking and the loud flapping of their wings. They started honking again with increasing volume and intensity as I paddled slowly past them.
That trip around the lake renewed my spirit. I was tired but feeling completely refreshed as I trudged up the hill to the cabin, only to find that the Go Jump in the Lake sign and the stuffed black bear on the TV had been knocked to the floor. Huh?!
I won’t keep you wondering: I soon realized that the intruder was just Walter, a very determined red squirrel—friend of my granddaughter and named by my friends. He’d chewed or clawed his way through the screen door, having wanted to come in for a visit for more than a month now. After a bit of exploration and pooping on the kitchen counter, he kindly left the same way he came in. I watched him later that evening, as he returned for a second round—along with a big fat frog and a robin, all of whom took turns looking at me through that now-closed patio door that has had so many visitors this week.
I don’t recall if it was that same night or the next that one of the blue jugs filled with water and carried from home leaked nearly all of its five gallon content over the counter and into the cupboard below. It’s been an interesting but wonderful adventure up here in God’s Country this week!
John 14:1: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”
Even when the world feels like it’s going crazy, Jesus tells us to relax. He and His Dad have got this. They’ve been in control all along. So I won’t let my heart be troubled. I will trust God, and keep my eyes on all of the good right in front of me and yet to come.
Father, thank You for the escape You’ve given me this week. It’s been one rush of “Indescribable” after another. But even up here my heart can be troubled when I take my focus off of Your promises and dwell on the awful things happening in this world…or even just the silly little day-to-day problems that occur—like bothersome squirrels and minor floods.
Thank You for reminding me to look beyond the difficulties—into Scripture for sure, but also into the goodness that’s so apparent when we take a time out from the noise to rest, to breathe.
Thank You for good people and for every one of Your delightful creatures; for giving me time and a place to run to when I’m overwhelmed by the state of our world. Thank You for Your reassuring presence, for holding me by the hand every minute of every day. Amen.