Let’s talk about our messes and our blessings

solarbirdlantern-sm10:21 p.m.

I sit in the very yellow space that serves as my office. My book collection lines one wall. The books I hope to read, the books someone recommended I read, the ones I bought for their artwork or bindings, those that hulk there for a rare reference, the ones I keep because I know they’re good and a few I’ve actually read.

This room’s a mess tonight. It attracts extra clutter like fly paper attracts flies. Cat baggage. Cots for the Beans. Toys. Odd assortments. I can’t seem to keep it tidy.

Through the garden doors I see only the light from two solar lanterns. I hear things, though. Songbirds singing the dark down. Swamp frogs croaking a steady percussive buzz. An annoying catbird whining. A great flapping of nearby wings – the mallard pair nesting in the neighbour’s yard, returning from their evening dip in the slough.

The roar of a souped-up motor and the happy whoop of the neighbour’s boy speeding home on his quad startle me. On our unpaved street, gravel crunches under a passing vehicle. Highway noises, long swishes mostly, float to me from four blocks over.

Sometimes at night I hear coyotes. Cattle. Fireworks. Sweet sounds that remind me why I love my countryside village, in spite of our spring-soupy streets and erratic internet.

I had a happy day today. Worked a bit in the garden. Spent time with the grandbeans. Washed windows. Laughed. Fed a few people.

But between all that happy, sad crept in. The world’s a mess tonight.  Overseas, famine hollows nations. The Enemy has released the hags of war, greed and infectious disease. Radical Islamists commit unspeakable atrocities against people Jesus called my neighbours. People who once had homes as comfortable and familiar to them as my own home is to me. Those loved by family and friends. Precious lives. Too many children. Devastated.

Adding insult to grievous injury, a beloved clown dropped his mask and left the stage. Without saying good-bye. When clowns grow sad, when laughter dies, can hope be far behind, some ask.

Friend, such chaos doesn’t surprise God. Since Adam and Eve, sin, sorrow and destruction have plagued earth. This we know.

But I’m feeling guilty. Maybe you are too. How dare I love my life? Count my blessings here in my yellow room? And that’s exactly what Satan wants. To start war in hearts too, by growing bitter stuff. Guilt. Anger. Envy. Revenge. Worry. Mostly, fear.

Let’s refuse. From my untidy room, I send this affirmation to my fellow believers. You and I can’t keep the world neat, but we can remember that God still loves it and gave his own Son to redeem it. We can pray less for serenity to accept the things we can’t change, and more for a surplus of courage to change the things we can – while we still can.

Want to make a difference? Start with prayer. Contribute to humanitarian agencies that send aid. Write federal politicians, requesting that our government hold more overseas governments accountable for human rights abuses.

Above all, refuse cowardice. Light up the space you influence with Jesus’ love. Stand boldly for Truth. Celebrate life. Cultivate gratitude. And listen for sweet sounds in the dark. God always sends them.