Reflecting on Second Chances….

red door by Betsey Karl 20200305
So much of what we see and do today is over in an instant. The idea of working hard toward a long term goal seems out of step with our fast paced lifestyle and the technology that fuels our every interaction. My new friend Betsey has captured just the opposite of the frantic pace of our lives. She has wandered in the wilderness of the Pine Barrens to discover a long deserted home, a home that would have fallen apart if not made from stone. Yet what draws me into this amazing photo is the door, if you could still call it a door. Perhaps all we see is old wood pieced together to close up the place. I am puzzled by the leaning lumber, half in and half out. Most of all, I wonder why anyone bothered to paint this ‘door’ red. It seems like a lot of trouble for a place that is just boarded up. Who knows what we would find inside? I can hear my father calling to me as a small child, telling me to leave it alone, worried there might be a raccoon inside. All we really know for sure is nature is more at home here now than whoever lived here long ago.

Then my memory shifts to my first trip to London with my husband not long after we married. After wandering the markets and taking in the sights, we ended up at St. Paul’s Cathedral for Evensong. The choir boys filed in in various states of dress, some so proper they hardly seemed like children, others barely in their vestments with hair still ruffled from hastily pulling them on over their heads. Then the service began and their voices transported us to heaven. I don’t recall what scriptures were read or the Psalm appointed for that day. I simply recall how bright and beautiful the world felt at that moment. After the service, we were invited to have a look around. In the north transept, we came upon Hunt’s life size painting ‘Jesus the Light of the World’ behind the altar in the Middlesex Chapel.

Light of the World postcard1479481232.png

Revelations 3:20 is inscribed along the bottom of the altar piece.

‘Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door I will come into him and will sup with him and him with me.’

Like Betsey’s door, this door has no handle. It can only be opened from within. Christ knocks and waits, but for how long? His foot is already turned away from the door. How long will He remain? How many times has He knocked? How many chances does the man within deserve?

The world’s answer is short and sweet. Better hurry up – make up your mind. Who knows if you will ever get a second chance? Grab what you can, while you can before it’s too late. God’s answer offers more than just a second chance. God remains while we wander, get lost, or simply can’t be bothered. God waits for us to pry open the door, to cut loose the overgrowth, to turn again to our Creator. Perhaps the artist says it best.

“I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good Subject. The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing “the obstinately shut mind” – William Holman Hunt

Make time today to consider what you are worth, in the eyes of the Divine rather than the eyes of the world. Allow yourself to soak in the beauty that abounds with every step you take. Let go of the need to decide right this moment, to judge rather than be present, to turn away rather than face the facts. Trust that whatever this day brings, you will always have a second chance, then a third, then a fourth, as many chances as it takes, until then end of time.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2020, All Rights Reserved

Photo entitled ‘Red Door’ by Betsey Karl©2020, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved. To see more of her work and The Pines, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/BogIronOutdoors/

‘Jesus the Light of the World’, by William Holman Hunt, Middlesex Chapel Altarpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England, not used for commercial purposes. To see more of St. Paul’s, go to their virtual tour:

https://www.explore-stpauls.net/oct03/textMM/LightWorldN.htm

 

 

Reflecting on Bounty….

Fall colors always bring me up short. It seems backward that the brightest colors appear just before the frost, a last hurrah before the grey and brown of winter. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo by my friend Kay, full of pumpkins and gourds, cabbages and mums. The shopkeeper has included all of the sturdy fall offerings, flowers that hold up in spite of the cold, pumpkins that last until you tire of them or decide to bake a pie or make soup. Yet most of all, I am struck by the bounty, the overflowing plenty we often take for granted day by day. We are beyond blessed in this nation of wealth and privilege. Yet across the globe, many struggle to just get by, working long hours at difficult and dangerous jobs for low wages. Their food for the day would barely satisfy us for one meal. Clean water means carrying a heavy burden, if available at all. Many households may share a single latrine, often little more than a crude outhouse. My first parish was St Mary’s in Burlington, New Jersey. Our priest, Father Greene, would challenge us all to donate the amount of money we would spend on food in one day to alleviate world hunger. He would fast on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, leading by example, depriving himself for one day to gain empathy for those who hungered day in, day out. Some of us high school students tried to fast as well. I only made it to lunchtime, yet that effort was not wasted. I began to understand how all consuming hunger can be, if only for a few classes one morning at school. Make time today to help those less fortunate in your community and around the world. Pray to see others as God sees them, to hear with God’s ears, to hold them with God’s arms, close to God’s heart. Look for a way to feed the hungry, not just for the holidays, but year round. Start a food drive, volunteer at a soup kitchen, make meals for the homeless. Give out of gratitude for what you have been given. And remember, when you’re tempted not to bother, “for everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required’ (Luke 12:48). Text by Connie Chintall, Photo by Kay Brickey

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