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Harps in the willows: Psalm 137 and our need for encouragement
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They say over a million people flooded Oregon this past week, driving flying plugging up our roads and prompting all the “get off my lawn” sentiments from the beaver state. People actually spent their vacation time and money to come here for two minutes of darkness.
I hope the light offered them more than they bargained for—it’s a beautiful state and its glory deserves the full light of day.
We like our Oregon. We like our light traffic and sparse towns and rural American dreams. We live in a monopoly of beauty and I suppose we’re all love your neighbor and world peace until the world shows up on our doorstep, true colors bleeding out.
We heard predictions that I-5 would be backed up for a hundred miles, that gas would run out, grocery store shelves would be empty, and mass hysteria might break-out as darkness descended. Dire predictions probably increased sales last week and I know hotels and AirBnBs more than quadrupled their rates, but we all survived. I didn’t hear any apocalyptic prognostications coming true.
And I know—we’re all over the eclipse now. It’s finished and we’re done and all the build-up was exciting but nobody cares to read another thing about how cool it was, especially if you were among the majority of people who didn’t get to see it. I know.
This is what sticks with me, though: we stopped our normal Monday lives and set aside our typical slavery to the schedule and the world didn’t end. People left their offices and homes and regularly-scheduled-programs for an hour on a Monday morning and shared in something collective, something rare and phenomenal, and it didn’t kill us.
Total eclipses don’t happen every day and if they did, it wouldn’t be worth stopping our lives for. We couldn’t designate an hour every Monday morning to gaze at the sky with silly glasses on. But maybe there are routines already in place that show us how to make sudden stops?
If I’m terribly sick on a Monday the world will continue to spin without my keeping pace. If one of my kids gets hurt, whatever project or pursuit I was in the middle of will take a backseat as I rush that child to the doctor and make sure they get the treatment they need. And if relatives from out of state show up at my doorstep, unannounced, whatever plans I had made can be altered to accommodate their visit. Ask me how I know.
Interruptions may be unexpected, but they are also routine— we can count on them, even if we can’t see them coming. They show us that we can stop.
The eclipse shows us that we can stop for good things, too, and not just those unexpected and unwanted emergencies.
The things that are important, but neglected, may need to reach emergency, this-only-happens-once-in-a-great-while status before we’ll pay attention to them. You want to spend time with your kids, your spouse, your neighbor; you would love to read that book, finish that project, write that story; you know time is slipping away and your kids will all be out of the house before you know it, and you want to create memories with them beyond the daily nagging and quick meals together.
This is cheesy, but maybe you need a total eclipse of the schedule, my friend. I know I do, and I’m not the busiest person around. I purpose to live a slower life, though a busy husband and kids and commitments conspire against me. I’ve cut things out of my life that are less important and pared down to my essentials and still, the list of things I “have” to do bullies the list of things God has called me to do.
If we want all the good, important things to come closer, between us and the blaring necessities of day in and day out, we have to make them an event. Put them on the calendar. Give the most important things a time and a place.
Remember when we stopped everything on a Monday and the world didn’t end? We can do that again.
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