Written and Shared by: Chaplain Chris Belfield
It is almost like having a newborn infant in the house. We are watchful of every move, every sound, and continually keeping watch for anything that may be perceived as out of the ordinary until we determine what ordinary behavior is. There are multiple feedings throughout the day, with the attendant acts of nature that quickly follow. Of course, there is a learning curve for all of the new behaviors that go along with the growing process. There is also the acclimation to new surroundings. Let us not forget the historical opportunities to capture for posterity the new member's photos and the simultaneous observations of cuteness. Yes, many of you have been there also as new parents and have the photo albums to prove it. So it is that Cathy and I are new parents as of last Saturday. That was when we picked up our new, eight-week-old nameless puppy. Had you going there for a minute, didn't I?
Since last Saturday, the puppy now has a name – Maggie and is settling in nicely to a routine and being a new family member. Our cat, Sophie, was not pleased at first with this new addition, the decision to which she had no input. However, as prayed for, Sophie has assumed her role as the alpha female in the animal hierarchy and tolerates Maggie with begrudging acceptance and mild annoyance. At least they can both be in the same room together. Significant progress for only five days, wouldn't you say?
As with any eight-week-old, the call of nature is not attuned to our desired time schedule. So it is that Maggie likes, or is that needs, relief somewhere between two and four in the morning. Maggie is Cathy's dog, and Cathy faithfully attends to Maggie's needs – regardless of the hour. During one of these nocturnal ventures that I lent my support, from inside the house, of course. Looking out the window, I noticed that it was a very cloudy, dark night. So dark that the usual lights across Lake Superior could not be seen at all in Wisconsin. The highway, only 200 feet away, was also wholly shrouded in darkness. It became a little disconcerting to imagine being totally engulfed by darkness with no visible reference points. I had déjà vu of the last time I felt the same sensation. It was approximately 12 years ago during a camping vacation stop at the Soudan Mine adjacent to Lake Vermillion State Park. What a memorable experience. Being advised by staff to wear a light jacket even though the temperature outside was almost 90 degrees. It was sage advice as, during the descent to the mine, the temperature quickly dropped over 30 degrees. The real
awareness of darkness came when standing in a large cavern. The staff advised everyone to stand perfectly still as the comforting and reassuring lights were turned off. The effect was immediate and dramatic. There was no external source of light, and thus the darkness was complete and unrelenting. There would be no adjustment of the eyes to compensate for the darkness. It was prevalent and permanent. After several minutes the lights were turned back on, and a sense of security was re-established.
How dark it seems today. There is an almost palpable sense of anxiety with all that we have experienced the past year. As though that were not enough, we are now faced with the grim reality that our best efforts to mitigate the spread of the pandemic have apparently been not nearly enough. This week sees new measures that harken back to early spring and will hopefully mitigate the virus's spread. Here in Lake County, we had the disheartening news that we have joined so many communities around the nation with our first pandemic-related death.
These are indeed dark days for the world, nation, state, community, and individuals looking for hope and the assurance that we can return to the world of a year or more ago. I offer that this darkness will not always be with us. God assures us through his word that he will take care of us and watch over us as we obey and follow him. The pandemic will pass, but we will not be doing a reset button to 2019 and moving on from there. The year 2020 is a redefining moment for us, and we will adapt accordingly and move forward. Regardless of how dark we may believe it is, God’s light is all around us. We just need to look up and see it.
Our encouragement verse for this week is:
Psalm 27:1 (NIV)
The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
May you be blessed by God’s word. Chris