Pandemic, what pandemic??

“The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable.
It is the way we look at them – through faith or unbelief –
that makes them seem so.
We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits
trials to come our way for our own good.

Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God.
The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him.
As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him.
We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Here’s to all the grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles as well as extended
family members, and or friends, who are on “lockdown” taking care
of the little ones or older ones, or simply the other ones, while all the others
can do this whole work from home thing!

I was talking typing with
Dawn Marie over on hugsnblessing (https://hugsnblessings.com)
as to how we were both coping with being a grandmother who was helping with our little
grandbabies while their moms were busy teaching from home
while we were all stuck at home…all together at the same time.

I’ve mentioned before that with all the parents now working from home…
someone has got to be helping with all those children who are also at home—

I told Dawn Marie that I wasn’t worried so much about a pandemic taking me out
as much as I was about stepping on the Lego that is now strewn all
around the house…all while I was walking barefooted through the minefield
that is now my home!

She told me how cooking was, becoming for her, almost monastic
as she recalled a prayer by Brother Lawrence.

Now I’ve written and quoted Br. Lawrence before.

And I too understood most clearly what she was saying.

In what seems to be a previous life,
I was once upon a time a mom who also worked outside of the home…
so I knew all too well about balance.
Sometimes I did a good job balancing, sometimes, not so much.

Yet as we fast forward a good 30 years or so, into this now surreal time
of pandemics and lockdowns and sheltering in place and working from home…
I think I’ve now spent more time in my kitchen in the past three weeks than
I have in the past twenty years…or so it seems.

And this comes from someone who loves to cook!

I understand pots and I understand pans… just as I now understand laundry.
Washing, fighting stains, drying, folding…all for many a big and little wee folk
living in my current state of lockdown.

Brother Lawrence spoke of the same sort of menial acts of our lives as being
actually large thank offerings to God.
Brother Lawrence was a simple monk who toiled in the kitchen and laundry of
a Medival monastery and so if anyone knew manual labor and mundae toil and trouble,
it was Brother Lawrence.

His was the work of daily menial chores.
And yet it was in those mundane chores that he could find joy in offering to God
the simple blessings of his life.

So as we each now labor in perhaps a different capacity than what we are accustomed to—
be it working from home while balancing a family,
or perhaps sheltering in place alone and isolated,
or working to provide needed services in this time of emergency…
may we each learn to look at our circumstance not so much as our own,
but rather as a thank offering of joy to our Heavenly Father who sees
and knows of our struggles.

Learning to shift our perspective from that of carrying out thankless and
backbreaking chores into one of giving selflessly with love can miraculously lift
and change our spirits…and if there was ever a time we needed to uplift our
spirits…it would be now!

Brother Lawrence is attributed with having written a small humble book
The Practice of the Presence of God.

You can read about Brother Lawrence here:
(https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/innertravelers/brother-lawrence.html )

This is the prayer attributed to Brother Lawrence,
the French medival Christian monastic who labored in the kitchen of a medieval monastery…
may his kind and gentle thoughts bring you peace during this time of uncertainty.

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.
Amen/em>

hands

“I take comfort in the fact that somehow,
in the mysterious resources of the human spirit,
even pain can serve a higher end.”

Dr. Paul Brand

“I don’t pray that you may be delivered from your troubles.
Instead, I pray that God will give you the strength and
patience to bear them.”

Brother Lawrence

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(the hands of Mother Teresa / A Photographic Record by Michael Collopy)

The other evening a visitor to my blog made a comment on a post that I had actually
written 3 years ago…

It was a post about feet.

And the feet in question were not just any pair of feet,
but rather the tired and worn feet of a relentless saint of a woman.

A woman, mind you, Pope Francis most recently declared a saint.

(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/these-feet-were-made-for-love/)

For some, especially my high school students…at the time I had originally shared the photograph,
the image of her feet were hard to look at…
for the image was that of a pair of feet that had not lived a pampered life
but rather a life of back breaking labor, toil and work….

And we are each the better for those feet.

In the commentary of the post, a dear friend of mine lovingly and sweetly reminisced
about the rough and worn hands of her grandmother.
Recalling the vivid details that had been etched on her young heart.

The new visitor added to that very train of thought with her own poignant memories of the rough and worn hands of her aunt…and of the very touching response from her uncle to her aunt’s weary anguish over her “ugly worn out hands”…

There is a post unto itself in her very touching words…

And it was today that I read the most beautiful tale of hands that I thought most appropriate to share with this most current thought of hands…

“What practical effect does Christ’s identification have on the person who actually suffers?
A dramatic example of the effect of this truth was seen in
the ministry of Dr Paul Brand while he was working among leprosy patients in Vellore, India.
There he preached a sermon, one of his best known and best loved.
At the time, Brand and his workers were among the few in the area who would
touch or closely approach a person with Hansen’s disease—townspeople quarantined them.
Brand slipped in late to a patients’ gathering,
sitting on the mat at the edge of an open courtyard.
The air was heavy with combined odors of crowding bodies,
poverty, stale spices, treated bandages.

The patients insisted on a few words from Dr Brand,
and he reluctantly agreed.
He stood for a moment, empty of ideas, looking at the patients before him.
His eyes were drawn to their hands, dozens of them,
most pulled inward in the familiar “leprosy claw-hand,” some with no fingers,
some with a few stumps.
Many patients sat on their hands or otherwise hid them from view.

“I am a hand surgeon,” he began and waited for the translation into Tamil and Hindi.
“So when I meet people, I can’t help looking at their hands.
The palmist claims he can tell you your future by looking at your hands.
I can tell your past.
For instance I can tell what your trade has been by the position of the
calluses and the condition of the nails.
I can tell a lot about your character,
I love hands.”

He paused and looked at the eager faces.
“How I would love to have had the chance to meet Christ and study his hands!
But knowing what he was like, I can almost picture them, feel them.”

He paused again,
then wondered aloud what it would have been like to meet Christ and study his hands.
He traced the hands of Christ,
beginning with infancy when his hands were small, helpless, futilely grasping.
Then came the hands of the boy Jesus, clumsily holding a brush or stylus,
trying to form letters of the alphabet.
Then the hands of Christ the carpenter—
rough, gnarled, with broken fingernails and bruises from working with saw and hammer.

Then there were the hands of Christ the physician, the healer.
Compassion and sensitivity seemed to radiate from them,
so much so that when he touched people they could feel
something of the divine spirit coming through.
Christ touched the blind, the diseased, the needy.

“Then,” continued Dr. Brand,
“there were his crucified hands.
It hurts me to think of a nail being driven through the center of my hand,
because I know what goes on there,
the tremendous complex of tendons, and nerves and blood vessels and muscles.
It’s impossible to drive a spike through its center without crippling it.
The thought of those healing hands being crippled reminds me
of what Christ was prepared to endure.
In that act he identified himself with all the deformed and crippled
human beings in the world.
Not only was he able to endure poverty with the poor,
weariness with the tired,
but–clawed hands with the cripple.”

The effect on the listening patients,
all social outcasts,
was electrifying.
Jesus—a cripple,
with claw hand like theirs?

Brand continued.
“And then there were his resurrected hands.
One of the things I find most astounding is that though we think of the
future life as something perfected,
when Christ appeared to his disciples he said,
“Come look at my hands,’ and he invited Thomas to put his finger into the print of the nail.
Why did he want to keep the wounds of his humanity?
Wasn’t it because he wanted to carry back with him an eternal reminder
of the sufferings of those on earth?
He carried the marks of suffering so he could continue to understand the needs
of this suffering.
He wanted to be forever on with us.”

As he finished, Paul Brand was again conscious of the hands as they were lifted,
all over the courtyard,
palm to palm in the Indian gesture of respect, namaste.
The hands were the same stumps, the same missing fingers and crooked arches.
Yet no one tried to hide them.
They were held high, close to the face, in respect for Brand,
but also with new pride and dignity.
God’s own response to suffering made theirs easier.

T.S. Elliot wrote in one of his Four Quartets:
The wounded surgeon plies the steel
the questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart

The surgery of life hurts. It helps me, though, to know
that the Surgeon himself, the Wounded Surgeon,
has felt every stab of pain and every sorrow.

Philip Yancey
Jesus’ Reminders

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https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/these-feet-were-made-for-love/