Dear God, where are you now?
Religion is not something I write much about much. Perhaps I did not fall far from the tree. I am probably more like my mother than I realize. I only mention God in my writings if I talk about being thankful for my life or nature. I have strong faith, but I am not religious. I have tried religion in my life. I have also lived without religion. I find God in nature, which probably explains why I spend much of my time outdoors. I am happy with my feet in the dirt or the waves, walking under the trees, delighting in all that grows from the earth. Rain and snow falling from the heavens are the gifts that make me feel warm inside.
Nature has helped me through this time of upheaval. And I’ve been waking up each morning with a Secret that helps me through each day. I spend a short amount of time upon waking to catch up with the world on my phone. But I limit it, and I’m careful about what I choose to read. After about ten minutes, I put my phone down. I can manage to get the headlines in, which provide me enough to understand that those who have the power to work on our situation are doing that. And the rest of us, our job is to shelter in place and spread whatever joy, hope, or love we can to others.
Once I update, I turn to something mindless, like playing games with my favorite game opponent (also known as Rick) on our computer. I usually whip his ass, which puts me in a good mood for the day to come. I think he secretly is a nice guy who gives me the win to help lift my spirits.
Once we are up, it’s not long before we are out the door finding something in our yard that needs tending to. By mid to late morning, we are tracking dirt into our house. We push ourselves physically, these baby boomer bodies, coming in late in the day sore and tired, and so thankful that we are not ill and able to share these blessings together.
I understand that living in dense cities prevents or at least makes it difficult to find nature. But even just going out your front door and looking up at the sunrise or the sunset or later when the stars are out, and spending time watching the show that nature is always putting on, will do the same as my yard does for me. Quiet, reflective time listening to birds, paying attention to the breeze, watching clouds, looking at what might be growing around you… all of these activities take only the space you’re standing in. Nature just needs your attention.
This morning I looked out my window (after limiting myself to the bad news) and realized that the trees have grown incredibly since I last looked at them from my bedroom window. They were so beautiful, displaying their new spring growth. Five years had passed, and they had grown up without me noticing. It’s all about taking the time to see the landscape around us, whether it be trees or our loved ones. It made me think that this Coronavirus experience, even though it has come at a high cost, might just be about slowing down to notice what we’ve created, what has been created for us and around us, and slowing enough to breathe it in. What’s the point of creating a life, a family, a yard, a career, a legacy— if we never slow down enough to bathe in the beauty of what we have created in our life?
I come back to God. I think if I was watching my children strive hard for their dreams, and I had to watch them racing through their lives never slowing enough to enjoy the fruits of their labor, I’d be having a chat with them. Likewise, I think God is having a conversation with us these days.
My mom had a hard life. I often write about her. She was not a religious woman, but I’ve come to understand that she nonetheless considered herself a child of God. I believe she felt shame for much of her life, which created turmoil around the issue of religion. I have some funny stories about her in her last days with the religious Hospice caregivers that visited her. She gave them a what-for in no uncertain terms. She wasn’t having their prayers… she would join hands, but she’d be saying her own prayer. Her prayer was simple, “Thank you, God. Thank you, God.” Enough said.
So today, when I pulled out a small slip of paper written in my mom’s handwriting that had been in the bottom of my basket for who knows how long, I had to wonder if maybe God and my mom were sending down a bit of wisdom in a hard time. I must have set this aside when I was going through her things a few years back. I can’t think it’s a coincidence that today I would pick it up and look at it.
“‘ The Secret’
I met God in the morning when my day was at its best,
And His presence came like sunrise, like a glory in my breast.
All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.
So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way.
You must seek Him in the morning
If you want Him through the day.”
Thanks, Mom, for teaching me about God, and so much more. And dear God, I know where you are. You’re with Helen, my mom, a character if there ever was one. And I understand you were joined recently with another lovely soul, Billie Jean D’Anna, goes by “B.J.” She will get along great with my mom.
And sadly, for many here on earth, that party upstairs is becoming the gathering of the century.
Please help all those left behind to find “The Secret.”
I close each day with my mother’s prayer, “Thank you, God. Thank you, God.”