Reflecting on the Long View…

Long View by Jeff McCord
This past weekend at the lake was a welcome change of scenery. Yes, we are still under the stay at home order, but that does not prohibit travel between personal residences. As time goes by, I appreciate a view of the water more than ever. So I was drawn to the view from my good friend Jeff’s cottage in upstate New York. He and his wife Martha frequently post views of their pond as the seasons change. I have been mulling over this view since early spring. We can see the shore near to us very clearly, while the far shore is shrouded in fog. As long as we focus on what is at hand, that far shore, that long view, will never come into focus.

As a young woman, I wondered if there was a difference between people raised near water and those raised in land locked areas. It seemed to me water offered more possibilities than land and more land. I grew up along the Delaware River in New Jersey. Some of my most cherished childhood memories involve an old jon boat with a 5 horsepower Sears motor. We would gather up change to get enough money for fuel, pack a lunch and head to the boat launch. In the middle of the Delaware River, there was Burlington Island. The island had a wide beach and an area sheltered from the current where we could safely swim. I recall fishing from that boat and the few times I was permitted to join my Uncle Bill to hunt ducks. Those early mornings always felt so mysterious. The river was almost always covered in thick fog. Yet I loved being on the water with him. A calm came over my uncle that I seldom saw, a calm that left me with a feeling that all was well with the world.

Looking beyond what is right in front of us requires strong grounding in the present moment. Perhaps our current penchant for grasping the easy reward stems from a deep insecurity in our present situation. Why not indulge that temptation, take what is right in front of you, lash out in anger? What is the point of looking beyond the here and now? After all, the future is fuzzy at best, catastrophic at worst. If we doubt our present, what we can see and touch and hear and smell, how can we begin to conceive of an unknown future?

Safely taking the long view requires two elements, applied liberally and often. The first is hope and the second is security. We must believe there are better days to come, days worth the current sacrifice to realize. We must also feel safe enough to risk the present for the future. At least for me, both are difficult if not impossible without faith. That is a tough word to define, let alone practice. Yet without practice, our faith withers and dies.

Faith for me means spending time with God listening more than talking. Prayers for others take the form of lifting them into the light rather than offering specific requests. I end with a prayer for those we love from the Book of Common Prayer Online

Almighty God, we entrust all who are dear to us to thy
never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come,
knowing that thou art doing for them better things than we
can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

That life to come is not just the afterlife – it is the future we trust and believe in. Make time to open your hearts and minds to new beginnings. Let go of what was and start to look forward, beyond today and tomorrow. Ask yourself what changes are better than what was. Begin to form a new future, a future based on the past but not limited by that past. Trust yourself to be a small part of the Almighty’s whole, expecting God to do immeasurably more than all we can begin to imagine or know to ask for.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2020, All Rights Reserved

Photo entitled ‘The Long View’ by Jeffrey Roswell McCord©2020, used with his permission, All Rights Reserved. Check out his novels on Amazon at Jeffrey Roswell McCord

Reflecting on Security….

Falling by Alexz JadeI’m enjoying a slow morning after way too many hectic days. The trees are beginning to leaf out, and the bulbs are blooming, yet it seems difficult to trust that spring is really here. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Alexz. I love her position, one foot trailing behind the other, her face turned toward the ground rushing up to meet her, one hand seeking to brace the impact of the fall. A lifetime ago I tried skydiving. I had always wondered what it would be like to jump. In fact, I feared high places, not because of the height, but because of my desire to jump. The real thing was more euphoric and more terrifying than I had ever imagined. After the chute deployed, there was the strangest sense of peace. I expected to hear wind rushing by me, but there was complete silence. I was in awe, amazed at how far I could see, at how secure I felt in the gear. Then I heard shouting and saw the ground screaming toward me. I crouched just in time to land safely, barely missing a nasty looking cactus. The reality of the jump had banished any fantasy about leaping off a tall building or sharp cliff. Yes, I had jumped and survived, but it took training and good gear, even the folks on the ground to help as I landed. It seems to me that security is a lot like that moment just before you hit the ground. You have done everything possible to minimize risk, yet there is always a chance something can go wrong. When you least expect it, someone is willing to take it to another level. Perhaps they lash out in anger, shattering the dreams of those around them because all they know is nightmares. Our security is always after the fact, addressing yesterday’s breach. And that security comes at a great cost. What do we gain, and what do we lose, when our schools look more like prisons than places to learn and dream? Shall we focus on the few who chose to harm others, or the many that rush to help, even at their own peril? The mathematics of tragedy has been distorted, with far too many news stories on the one or few that choose to pick up a gun or plant a bomb, while the many who quietly do good are ignored. What would our newscast look like if there was one news story for each person that sought to help another? Make time today to focus on the invisible heroes in your lives. Turn off the news and take a good, hard look at what is going on around you. Say thank you to the teacher who should give up, but does not, the mother who wipes away a child’s tears when her own heart is aching, the driver who stops to help another when he is already running late. Practice random acts of kindness, believe in the good of the world, turn away from a sense of false security. And always remember, all it takes to make the world a better place, is for each of us to reach out to one another in love, one thought, one prayer, one action, at a time. Text by Connie Chintall ©2013, Photo entitled ‘Falling’ by Alexz Jade ©2013, All Rights Reserved. To see more of her work, go to http://alexzandrajade.tumblr.com/

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