It’s In The Mail

“Usually if you pray from the heart, you get an answer—the phone rings or the mail comes, and light gets in through the cracks, so you can see the next right thing to do. That’s all you need.” ― Anne Lamott

Most people right now report having extra time on their hands. Having to get reorganized due to the quarantine, working from home, kids no longer in school,  grocery trips to a minimum, no more out of the house entertainment or eating out…

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know first hand. This is just to set the stage for today’s suggestion.

In addition to your expanding expertise in being shut up and socially isolated, some sort of suffering has probably marched through your life in some degree:

  • People are sick and some are dying
  • There are growing fears as the virus spreads across our country
  • Businesses have shut down and people are out of work
  • Small businesses are facing their own demise
  • Sometimes, necessary supplies are not available
  • Significant events are cancelled and postponed (prom, graduation, weddings)
  • Education in all forms is being remodeled and experienced in dramatically different ways – lots of stress on everyone
  • Families at home are having to strengthen their existing relationships and give so much more space to each other (how did people in log cabins do this?)

Be reminded that the normal problems of life continue even when there is a plague. Cancer, aging, heart disease, and addictions still plague us every day. There are relationship crises that were on fire before the virus came knocking. People problems don’t go away like magic just because a global catastrophe arrives. Sometimes they get even worse.

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” — Frederick Buechner

My point, you are probably wading through problems of all sorts these days. You surely know of others who are. Maybe there’s someone who’s in deeper than you.

My two-year-old grandson just dumped out baby powder and tracked it from one end of his house to the other. His mom filmed the confrontation, he admitted and backtracked the whole incident to her. He seemed to reflect in his expression, “yes, I made a mess, let’s just clean it up, what’s the problem?”

Some of the problems we all face do get better when we face them together. Others are not going to go away, at least not quickly enough. There are bitter and dark days ahead.

When you think of someone else who is suffering right now, to whatever degree, I’m suggesting you send a note or card in the mail.

  1. The postal service is still operating
  2. You can buy stamps at the grocery store (Amazon will even deliver)
  3. There are packs of cards at the grocery, Target or Wal-Mart

Sure, it’s so much more efficient to just send an email or text. Even a phone call is easier (and more personal!). Yes, yes, I agree. Please be efficient rather than not at all. But, over the years I have noticed in people’s offices and homes, cards received in the mail. They were saved and kept out – used for continued encouragement and inspiration. A card in the mail becomes an artifact that can give your gift day after day. I know that when we were fighting cancer at my house, we filled a whole wall with cards and notes. It hung there for years, building up our courage each day. It was like real people standing there holding us up.

Yes, it’s a little extra effort (what else are doing right now?)

Yes, you will have to look up a mailing address (updating your contacts instead of watching TV?)

Yes, there are multiple steps involved (actual steps, off the couch, out the door)

When we do things like sending cards in our digital age we are strengthening the ties that bind us together. This is certainly a time in history when we need that kind of strength. Now, start making your list of people in your life that need to hear from you in one way or another. Don’t put it off. Do it today. Get some stamps and send out a card (you’re allowed to buy cards at the store even when you don’t have someone to send them to!). Do something about that tug at year soul.

“I’ve always felt there is something sacred in a piece of paper that travels the earth from hand to hand, head to head, heart to heart.” ― Robert Michael Pyle

How Are Ya Doin’?

I’m hearing this a lot that these days.

I often think about that question. Sometimes I want to ask back, do you really want to know?  Some people do. Others are being friendly and are just passing by. I think most fall somewhere in between.

Most of the time the best answer is a polite, “just fine, how are you?”

Lately I tell people, “I made it to today, that seems pretty good so far.”

Rarely, but every now and then, I just tell the truth and say, “terrible, but maybe things will get better.”

It always depends on who’s asking, the look in their eyes, and the tone of their heart.

How are YOU doin’ these days?

Are you wagging more and barking less?

Are you keeping plenty of people to love very near?

Do you let all that bad stuff just run down and never soak in?

Are you keeping your eyes on today, never missing a chance that God puts in your path?

Smiling at every face that comes into sight, stranger or not?

Putting your problems aside and thinking about someone else as often as you can – telling ’em as quickly how much they mean to you?

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” ― Dale Carnegie (I couldn’t resist)

The holidays are right around the corner. That’s when some people feel really awful. When someone near to you (at work, down the street, in the next pew, at the end of a phone call) needs to hear, “how are ya’ doin’?” And somehow know that you really want to hear the truth.

Your own bad situation is going to fade away when you start to find ways to take care of someone else’s. It works every single time!

Someone needs you right now, but may never ask

So…how about instead of asking that polite question again and again…you just assume that everyone you meet is probably having (or soon will) a hard time about something. How about you find something encouraging to say that’s personal? How about you pray (really!) for people you pass on the road of your life? How about you find a secret way to lift up people you hardly know who may not hear enough good news?

“How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”  ― Rainer Maria Rilke

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“Look, if you sold a few sparrows, how much money would you get? A copper coin apiece, perhaps? And yet your Father in heaven knows when those small sparrows fall to the ground. You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. So do not fear.”  – Jesus in Matthew 10:29-31 (The Voice)

God needs you to spread the encouragement, blessings and love of friendship. He needs you to help drive out the fear that haunts so many around you. He needs you to help become part of the answer to “How Ya Doin’?”