Saturday, March 28, 2020

Earthlings


During this time of Covid-19, my mind keeps thinking about Star Trek. I’ve never been a “Trekkie,” but I did grow up watching Star Trek. I thought it was pretty hoaky and often wondered why in the world Captain Kirk thought he was God’s gift to women! I enjoyed the movies that came later and thought Picard was a great captain.

In the Star Trek world, humans “identified as” inhabitants of the planet Earth. I don’t know if there are places in the series where countries and citizenship may have been discussed, but I don’t remember any. The passengers and staff of the U.S.S. Enterprise were Earthlings. Well, Spock was a Vulcan, so perhaps there were other planetary beings, too. But the characters were either Earthlings or citizens of another planet -- Vulcans or Klingons or others -- not Americans, Italians, Iraqis, Russians, whatever -- just humans from Earth.

We Earthlings are all susceptible to Covid-19, regardless of what country, city, or place we are citizens of. The virus is horrible and scary and I wish all the effects of it were not happening, but nevertheless it reminds us that we are all one. Weird, right, that something so evil reminds us of something so beautiful?

Today (Friday, March 28) Pope Francis prayed a prayer called Urbi et Orbi (“'to the city [of Rome] and to the world' - denoting a papal address and apostolic blessing given by the pope on certain solemn occasions.” -- Wikipedia). It’s a beautiful prayer. I encourage you to read it. He used the story in Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the storm to illustrate how we feel in this storm happening in our lives right now. 

That story, too, reminds us that we are all one, and that Jesus -- incredibly -- is one with us. In the story, Jesus is in a boat with the disciples.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

We are like the disciples, and Jesus is with us just as he was with them. Right now we, too, wonder, doesn’t he care? Pope Francis said:

Let us try to understand. In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust? They had not stopped believing in him; in fact, they called on him. But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38). Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them. One of the things that hurts us and our families most  when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It would have shaken Jesus too. Because he, more than anyone, cares about us. Indeed, once they have called on him, he saves his disciples from their discouragement.

Jesus, “more than anyone,” cares about me, about you, about all of us Earthlings.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Lou, are you breathing?!

On our answering machine when we arrived home one time years ago:

Lou: I guess they’re not home.
Fran: I wonder where they are.
Lou: Yeah. [Pause. Chuckles} I suppose she’ll hear this.
Fran: Mavis, it’s your mom and dad. Call us when you get home.

My parents were Lou & Fran Kok. Over the years, my phone calls were often with both of them at the same time -- each on an extension (back in the days of landlines). Every once in awhile they’d get into a discussion or argument with each other. I’d think, “Um, do I really need to be here?” as they went back and forth.

Every so often, on these 3-way phone calls, Mom would suddenly say, in a disgusted tone, “Lou, are you breathing?!” Mom never seemed to realize that the person on a phone extension sounded extra loud to the person on the other extension. Sometimes she would hear chewing and say, “Lou, are you eating something?” and Dad would guiltily confess he was. But when she asked if he was breathing, it kind of confounded him. “Well, yes, I am. I have to breathe.” I would laugh and tell Mom that I didn’t hear anything, it was okay.

I’ve written before about Aslan’s breath in The Chronicles of Narnia. Jill rode his breath to a new location. He brought back to life the people and animals who the wicked queen made into statues. He also used his tongue. He would lick someone to show his love, often when a character came felt shame and guilt in a face-to-face encounter.

I have to say this whole thing of breathing and licking would normally totally gross me out. I take after my mother in that hearing people breathe near me gives me the creeps. When the kids -- or Randy, or anyone -- try to read over my shoulder, I say, “Don’t breathe near me!” And licking. Oh my goodness. I am like Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon. Seeing a dog lick a person nearly makes me gag. And don’t even make me think about being licked myself!

But I love the images of Aslan’s breath, and of his tongue providing gentle reassurance. In the Bible when Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection, it says,

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:21-23)

What does that look like? Jesus breathing on them? I don’t know, but somehow it’s beautiful. I think it’s symbolic of Jesus’ promise to send them the Holy Spirit, the great comforter, which happens later after he ascends to heaven. It reminds me of the spirit hovering over chaos in the Genesis story. (I’ve written about that before, too.)


And who can resist the overwhelming feeling of joy in watching a baby breathe? That little chest going up and down, that tiny puff of exhaled air, the quiet inhale. Breath is a sign of life. Jesus breathed on his disciples and they knew he was alive again.

A reminder to “just breathe” and be grateful in this weird, worrisome time. Thank God for his breath, for his life, for my breath, for my life, for your breath, for your life. With every breath you take, Jesus loves you. Peace be with you.

What can I pray about for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer and decided to start this email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry.
  If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Love & donuts

Saturday morning means donuts for breakfast in our household. We usually walk across the street to the neighborhood donut store. Nearly every time we do this, we see a man and his son walking to the same place. His son is apparently mentally challenged. He walks in an ungainly way, flails his arms, and often sings or yells loudly. He’s usually carrying a little American flag. I noticed last week that he and his father were both wearing a red sweatshirt. The sweetest thing is that he tucks his hand into his dad’s elbow and they walk along that way, arm-in-arm, side-by-side.

We have seen this dad and son walking to the same corner stores we do for years and years. The father’s hair used to be jet black and is now gray. The son grew from a toddler, his height barely above his dad’s knees, to now being a big boy a few inches taller than his dad.

I imagine what it must be like to be this boy’s parents. It must have broken their hearts to learn that their son was challenged in this way, that he would not be “normal,” as we think of it. I am sure they love their son and care for him with love. His joy every time we see him is evidence of that. Now as the parents are aging I can only imagine they sometimes wonder how their son will be cared for after they are gone. I hope they have figured out a plan for that. 

The overwhelming thought I have when I see this father and son, though, in their matching red sweatshirts, the son jubilantly waving his flag and singing, is the father’s faithfulness. Week after week he accompanies his son. He gives his son a sweet treat -- the donut -- every time. He lets his son express his joy in the way that best suits his son, regardless of how awkward it might seem to others. He gently guides his son across the street, keeping him safe. It is a model of God’s love and faithfulness to us. He tucks our hand in the crook of his arm and walks step-by-step beside us, never failing.

Praise God for his faithfulness..

What can I pray about for you?

love and blessings,

Mavis


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is this?? A while back, I had an idea. I was thinking of some friends I wanted to pray for, but I didn't have a specific thing to pray about on their behalf. I decided to pray that they would feel God's love. I decided to send them an email when I prayed, so they'd know and be encouraged. Then I thought about my many other family and friends who I would like to encourage with prayer, and decided to start sending an email.
    Two things I try to do:
-- Encourage you with a reminder of God's love. My goal is to avoid anything where the response is "I should..." Just a short reflection of God's love.
-- Pray for you. I'll pray with each email, and please reply to me with anything you'd specifically like me to pray for you. I'll keep it confidential, don't worry..
   
.     If you would like to send me specific prayer requests. I will gladly pray with you. Email me at mavis at moonfamily.cc. I'll keep all communication confidential.