I have not sent Shabbat encouragements for the past couple weeks. My special time with HaShem, the times when these weekly thoughts often arise, has been disrupted due to the sudden death of my aunt and our unanticipated early trip to Florida to attend to her affairs. I have not been in that special space where I can hear Him amid so much distraction.
That is, until this morning when I jogged on the beach, not up in Maine but down here in Florida. As I ventured forward, a small group of small shore birds attempted to stay ahead of me, which is not difficult to do since I am a very slow runner. I was able to watch them for quite awhile and was amused at their antics. As the waves would withdraw from the shore, each tiny bird would run to peck at yummies beneath the freshly revealed wet sand, trying desperately to outrun the returning sea’s next wave onto the shore. Back and forth they ran toward and away from the waves, gathering their food, then quickly running ahead to do so over and over and over again.
Although they were managing to eat, I was watching a real life example of fight or flight, for sometimes the next wave was faster than they had anticipated so they would take to the air and fly away to avoid the sea crashing to the shore. All were in a group together, creating a beautiful choreography of movement.
We are not unlike those tiny creatures, busy, busy, busy with our daily tasks, running to stay ahead of the unseen forces that complicate our lives, not seeing the big picture but focusing on the bugs in the sand in our lives. In a way, I have been caught up in that space, myself, for the past several weeks. There seem to be an inordinate number of fires to put out on various fronts causing me to easily miss the fact that our Abba has everything totally in control. The sea never leaves and the waves return like clockwork. So, too, does He never leave us and is always waiting for us to return to Him.
I am in Florida to help my uncle and cousin who have just lost their loved one, as have I. And the mission is deeper than just that. For as a child, due to family dysfunction, my siblings and I were not allowed to know this side of the family. My time here has been spent having meals with cousins and other family members with whom I was deprived the sweetness of sharing their lives earlier in our lives. I am hearing stories of grandparents I never knew, other aunts and uncles who are no longer with us, meeting cousins. I am cherishing the time I did have over the past 15 years to know my departed aunt and my uncle as the bridge was being built between our families, perhaps only now budding into newly discovered branches of our family tree.
There is deep redemptive love at work here and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
As you take on the week’s challenges, I encourage you to not lose sight of the bigger picture, that you are part of a world designed to foster love for one another. Work to overlook thoughtless words said by another and focus instead on the beautiful soul HaShem has put into him or her. Recognize that we all say things we wish we hadn’t said. Don’t dig in on the negative, but rather, bask in the positive. As you engage in your weekly routines and activities, I encourage you to minimize the bug pecking in the sand, and just love.
May your week be filled with love.