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  • Veranita Alvord, Pastor

It was the best of times...it was the worst of times...


This week, Oliver, a friend of mine, lost his wife and their daughter celebrated her birthday. This is the way life seems to be. We say it at funerals--"in the midst of death, we are in life." The converse is true, in the midst of life, we are in death. At the same time people are dying, babies are being born. At the same time people are struggling with COVID, people are recovering from COVID. Charles Dickens' book, A Tale of Two Cities begins this way, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” How true! We can experience both the best and the worst of times and sometimes on the same day! How do we celebrate the happiness of the best of times? How do we survive the frustration and grief of the worst of times? Oliver wrote something like this about his daughter's birthday, "She is the delight of her mother. I'm so grateful that I can see my wife in my daughter's eyes and in her smile." Their daughter contains the best of his wife's features. Bittersweet. We carry with us those whom we love and whom we have lost...perhaps this is a way through the best and the worst of times. When down and struggling to begin the day, when up and excited about the day, I find a grounding force in a morning walk. Just one foot in front of the other, this movement seems to help, so does walking our puppy, Nico. Nico is always so excited to greet us in the mornings, it's as if he's never seen us before! His tail could power an airplane, his tongue could saturate the Sahara desert, his little pink, pudgy belly could melt the largest iceberg. This morning, I was treated to the gorgeous dusting of snow and the full "Wolf Moon." Yes, that picture is of the moon this morning! This moon is 100% full today at 2:16pm. We may not be able to see it then, but even in broad daylight the moon is there, just as at midnight, the sun is still shining somewhere. The January full moon is supposedly named for wolves that howled outside at night, so says the Old Farmer's Almanac. The name also comes from Native American tribes that called the full moon in January, "Wolves Running Together." This Wolf Moon reminded me of a Cherokee grandfather teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” Grandfather continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” Grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

If one wolf is my best of times and the other is my worst of times, I asked myself in the Wolf Moonlight this morning, which one of my wolves am I feeding? Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 from The Message There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: A right time for birth and another for death, A right time to plant and another to reap, A right time to kill and another to heal, A right time to destroy and another to construct, A right time to cry and another to laugh, A right time to lament and another to cheer, A right time to make love and another to abstain, A right time to embrace and another to part, A right time to search and another to count your losses, A right time to hold on and another to let go, A right time to rip out and another to mend, A right time to shut up and another to speak up, A right time to love and another to hate, A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift. I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear.

Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That’s how it always is with God.


Grace and Peace, Veranita

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