During these times of trouble and worry many are finding it difficult to live in the present and be thankful for the daily blessings that are still showered upon us. In the aftermath of our nation’s tragedy we go about our day yet, fear and concern cast their black shadows into every corner of our minds. A stranger steps on the elevator and we think twice about whom they might be. A plane flies low in the sky and you wonder at the angle of its descent. Clouds of dust fill the air in the farmlands and you wonder if it’s really pesticide.
During the last few weeks, I have tried to keep a clear perspective on the events that have unfolded and maintain a sense of security and stability in my home. The other day my youngest son came running in the house, panic written all over his face. He asked in a hushed and whispered voice, “Mom, do you think you could out and get me my own key to Nana’s house? I don’t have one and if we need to go someplace safe really quick, I’ll need a key. Can we go get one right now at the hardware store?” He was referring to my mother’s house.
Puzzled, I stopped washing dishes, turned off the water and knelt down by his side.
“Caleb”, I queried. “What’s this all about? Why do we need to get a key right now?”
Solemnly, as his big blue eyes filled with tears he said, “Well, Nana says we need to go and get a key right away so we have a place to go in case there’s a bomb or something! She is storing food and water and EVERYTHING! “
I sighed and then I sighed again. My ever-loving mother, raised in the middle of WWII was always preparing for the worse, wringing her hands in worry and fretting about the future. Although a devout Christian she just couldn’t live in the present and accept God’s goodness for the day. She borrowed tragedy and then relied upon God’s grace to see her through it. I knew that this was an aftermath of being brought up during the 1930’s and 40’s. Living in the heartland of America she had seen drought and despair, and later, boys barely out of high school going off to war and never coming back. She remembered her father coming into the house as he prepared to go to town for a few necessities and asking her mother which she needed the most, flour or oil for the lamps. There were no other options and they eked out an existence year to year. As a result of this environment she worried and fretted about this and that every single day. She was such a good woman and yet she lived in fear.
Somehow I had escaped this fate and had learned to enjoy each day. I had established a dinnertime ritual early in the children’s lives wherein every member of the family had to name one good thing that had happened to them in the day. We would concentrate on the goodness around us and on the blessings given to us. The tone would be casual yet reverent and we would start with the oldest person at the table and work our way down to the youngest. Rules of the house – everyday you had to share a new blessing. No repeats for at least a week. I might say, “Today I saw a child in the cancer wing at the hospital smile when I gave them the new quilt I’ve working on. They had the brightest face!” My oldest son Joshua might pause and reflect and maybe laugh and then say, “Today I am glad I didn’t blow up the chemistry lab!” Then he would get very serious and say, “I’m grateful to go to a high school where God is honored.” Finally little Caleb would have a turn. “I am glad to have food on the table and a really cool handmade quilt to sleep in. There are a lot of kids who don’t have that in the world.” Our reflective moods would give us pause in an otherwise hectic day.
We realize that we are not living in a world everything is rosy. We are realists and try to prepare at least mentally for conflicts and tragedies that may come along. We prepare for college tuition, we prepare for financial emergencies, we prepare for old age. However, due to our faith in God and His provisions, we are able to enjoy even a silent, brief moment in each day and thank God for his continued goodness. Even in the face of tragedy, he is still pouring out blessings. Few of us were not touched by the atrocities committed on our soil. None of us will ever forget. Yet the blessings continue to pour to heal our hurts and also to enrich our lives.
I turned my eyes back to Caleb and wiped away the tears. “Don’t worry honey. God is in all we do. He sees and hears everything. He protects us. He is everywhere. But, yes, he does expect for us to be practical and use our brains. We will get a key and make a plan and you will know exactly what to do should something bad happen. Right now, though, you are going out into the sunshine and be a kid and enjoy your new golf set. I promise I will get you a key tomorrow. Deal? Ok?”
“Ok”, he said and smiled his fake smile. He was still concerned but he trusted me. Then he kissed me and hopped out the door.
I turned back to the cooling dishwater as my mind whirled with thoughts as to whether I had said the right thing. You never know as a parent. A gentle breeze blew through the window and freshened my face. It was a gentle wind as if angels were dancing on air bringing me peace. What would be my contribution to the dinnertime routine? I furrowed my brow. The rare cool breeze caught me again – insistently. I suddenly realized that I was grateful for the breeze. It brought much relief on a hot desert night and reminded me of God’s gentle blessings. Yes, it was all right to prepare for disaster, but it was also important to live in the wind of God for that’s where the blessings blow.
Renee Ripley, a single mom, has a Master’s in Literature and enjoys writing and homeschooling her youngest son Caleb. She has contributed several stories to 2theheart. She sees life as continual inspiration for her stories and a reason to never have writer’s block! [email protected]