So many of you noticed I did not send out a Shabbat encouragement last week. First, please remember they will be when they will be. Second, however, thank you for letting me know how much they mean to you.
Yes, last week was beyond my capacity to stay in long enough, or even find, that special time with Him. Even carving out daily prayers is not the same as those longer times really away from it all, in nature with my Abba, my Yeshua. Within 36 hours we had unpacked our Florida home, packed the RV, and cleaned our home to the level of welcome we wanted for our renters coming a few days after our departure. Then began the 1500 mile drive back to Massachusetts culminating in another 100+ mile drive to Maine to drop our pups off and back to Boston before catching a flight to see our newest grandbaby, our first boy, in Chicago. This was all accomplished in less than a week from our leaving Florida which had been our home for the past three months. Translation: lots of stuff to pack, shlep, unpack, and repack in part for yet another trip!
So it’s taken me awhile to decompress, which I have, sitting here so peacefully looking out the window from our children’s home as the newest member of our family sleeps so sweetly giving all of us a chance to rest. And so, I took the opportunity to jog, with Him.
Where we are now is the opposite of the beach, or even a place in nature where I can so easily connect with His created world. Our kids here live in an industrial part of inner city Chicago that has begun a revival in part that has attracted this generation as a very interesting place to live. And it is! We literally look across the street at a beer brewery which is fascinating. Most of the area is still not residential, but rather, 19th century industrial buildings, some vacant, some in use, some being converted to new uses. A few blocks behind us is a beautiful greenspace, a spacious state of the art playground and park. We can admire the Chicago skyline from the kitchen window of our kids’ 3 story storefront home.
So I set out taking in the beauty of the diversity of a new place while listening, of course, to my favorite Messianic Jewish music. The bright sun and cool breeze filled me with Him as I took in the sights of urban Chicago. It just felt so invigorating, truly life giving, to have this precious time, which yes, I had to deliberately seek out given the many tasks of the day. Doing so here, even with a new baby, was nothing compared to the activities of the past week!
As I anticipated my jog with HaShem, I was reminded of the importance of taking this time. Days of more physical and emotional challenges than usual derail our best efforts to have the deep time we so desperately need to spend with God. Even Bible reading and praying, though critically important, cannot take the place of the even more intimate times we need to sustain that special connection we have been given to Him, our Abba, our Yeshua.
As I pondered these thoughts, I passed – cannot make this up – a store called “Jerusalem”!!! What! Right here at this moment!!??? With empty industrial buildings all around me??!! In my head, it was as if I could almost hear Abba saying, “Yes, you understand. I am with you. I am with my people everywhere, and with those suffering even today in My holy city. Always with all.” I could palpably feel the intimacy of His presence. Then, while still reeling from that “random” timing of affirmation of my thoughts of the importance of making these times with Him, a monarch butterfly appeared. Just one. Just there. Right in inner city Chicago. HaShem was on a roll with me, as if to say seek and ye shall find!
I have shared with you in the past the connection I have with this magical creature. So many stories, yet the one that resonates with me the most is its connection to certain memories of my father. There were times when we lived in separate states in his later years when he and I would experience monarch butterflies interacting with each of us at exactly the same times on the same days although he and I were separated by so many miles. So after he died, when I would see a monarch butterfly in a place that was unusual I would say “Hi Dad” and would just feel he was somehow there, with me, looking out for me. I’m making no claim to understand or go into any explanation other than I feel that our loved ones who go before us are somehow still connected to us as are the many angels daily looking out for our well being and guiding us in our journeys.
So there, the only butterfly I’d seen in days appeared, flying just ahead of me, darting back and forth as I jogged and smiled, so interacting with me that it flew toward and landed on a sticker on a fire hydrant that said “Slow down”. And so I did.
As I was marveling at the morning’s adventures and feeling deeply connected with my Abba again, His essence enveloping me with love, in my path was a cast aside chicken bone lying on one of those little helicopter seed pods that fall from maple trees, also called winged seeds. The “random” placement of the bone and winged seed together visually reminded me of the dry bones He breathes into life and rebirth, as He had done for me so profoundly this morning. How appropriate that thought was delivered by the wings of the butterfly and winged seeds, so suggestive of His angelic forces working in our lives.
Slow down. Breathe deeply. Be aware in the unexpected places, and be surprised at His omnipresence.