As I center my thoughts on this new year, I think about the doors and keys to life. You know those doors of opportunity to knock on, doors to walk through, and finding that prize on the other side of the door. Scriptures tell us“knock, seek, and you will find”. At times it feels like multiple knocks before someone slowly creaks the door open with a mutter of a greeting. Other times you barely get a knock in, and “HELLO, HERE I AM!” like a bright red door. And then there are those times, and no one answers. Maybe I need to move onto a new address, new door, new opportunity? “When one door closes, another opens” as the saying goes. There can be a reward for those who are persistent.
Then there are the keys to life. Author Alex Morritt writes, “Owning fewer keys opens more doors.” Was he speaking about property ownership, or more about simplifying your life in general? Maybe both. In 2016 my quest to simplify and pare down was energizing. I was able to see my immediate surroundings in a new light. In 2017, it will be more in the area of my thoughts and words. Simplify my thoughts, less analyzing. Simplify my communiques with fewer words, use more effective ones. Loving words. Encouragement. God holds “the key to my heart”. He knows all my thoughts and cares of this life before I even pray them.
What door are you knocking on? What key will open the door, your life this very day?
All My Children … Isn’t that the name of a daytime drama? If you had not heard yet, there has been daytime and nighttime drama in St. Louis, Missouri area this past 8 days. A community is at unrest due to the fatal shooting of an 18-year black man by a white police officer in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson. Protests turned to riots have lead major destruction in St. Louis County. Upheaval with law enforcement, prosecutors, government officials locally up to federally, and racial activists have made Ferguson known globally. I work for St. Louis County Government housed in the police headquarters building working in the benefits and retirement office. The sounds of security dogs, helicopters circling, and target-shooting bullets are foreign to everyday Clayton, Missouri which is the county seat of St. Louis County. This week I heard it all. And I felt and heard the turmoil of several civil and police employees. I administer the employee assistance services, make sure counselors are there for any one of them … all my children.
It was the longest week I had worked. On Friday, my husband picked me up from my office building, our usual car-pooling routine. We drove out of St. Louis County homeward bound. Home sweet home. We decided to stop in for a beer and a bite to eat. Old Town St. Peters American Legion Hall, our destination. Americana at its best. Long-hairs and farmers celebrate in unison the weekend with a beer in one hand and a fried chicken wing in the other. All I could hear was happy conversation and laughter. Beer mugs clanging like cymbals. Music. Songs of joy. The most comforting sounds I heard all week. And despite it all, the Ferguson Farmers’ Market continued on Saturday and parishioners congregated and prayed in their churches on Sunday. Foundational truths do not change. Food and faith still remain the foundation of what man and woman needs. With today’s sermon I was reminded of the Biblical story of the Cannaanite woman that others would have ignored, but Jesus paid attention to this mother’s persistant request for her daughter. With faith I pray … Oh God hear my cry for all my children, youngest to the oldest, black, white, simple-minded, disabled, rich, poor. But if not for the grace of God, any one of us are unworthy. But God You give us each the gift of Jesus Christ. Accept and receive His forgiveness, so that you in turn can show the same towards others. So be it.
It has been less than a perfect week this week, actually very far from it! I helped put a fire out at work on Wednesday. Literally, and yes on Ash Wednesday, I played firefighter just before I was due out from the office. The ‘flight or fight” response came out, and I stayed to fight. I helped put a fire out that was on the rooftop, just outside my office. My building has been under construction for months, and the rooftop became the main project the past 2-3 weeks. Shingle tar was bubbling, a nearby plank board was glowing with red embers, with high winds blowing. After calling security and waiting for 5 minutes with no avail, I checked the rooftop door and it was unlocked. The fire hydrant was blocked with construction equipment, so my co-worker poured water from a pitcher onto the fire while I kept the door open. In 30 seconds it all was a smoking mess! Still cannot see clearly why we did the wrong thing. Authorities were notified, the site inspected, little damage, and no one injured. You would think, our superiors would be elated, right? Yet we were to set the fire alarm, escape, and wait for the local firefighters to show up or not. This past month, the firefighters never showed at 2 other fire alarms. Apparently, a complete investigation is underway to find out the cause. A local firefighter would have been a neutral party, to announce whether it was an employee fault or the fault of the contracted construction crew. I try to do the right thing, though what is right to me and 7 other people who were at the scene of the fire during and immediately afterwards, is wrong to the superiors.
On the way home from church today I saw a local shop sign that says, “I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect.” A humorous confidence booster, I would say. But it was just what I needed to remind me to laugh. And that confidence and esteem is a matter of perception, self-perception and God’s perception. God’s Word tells me that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14). If I listened to others, I am nobody. If I listen to God, I am perfect. Then I replace the “I am” with “you are fearfully and wonderfully made” to forgive and bless the less than honest people, when I really rather not. Right now, it is a process. My attitude and sarcasm about this smoky mess are simmering down. I feel like shouting on the rooftop, “I am perfect in God’s eyes … I did the right thing!” Though I will settle with just knowing how God feels about me, and that means everything to me. The grace of God …
Despite a miniscule budget and this season of grieving, by God’s grace I will create vignettes and will remain a perennial optimist (as Word Press blogger, Kate of Believe Anyway calls herself). Big is our God! He has big Forgiveness, big Grace, and big Love! There are no boundaries with His many gifts and blessings!