Some years ago, in the days between Christmas and New Years Day, a handful of us took the train from Warsaw, Poland to Berlin, Germany. In addition to taking in charming Christmas markets and glorious coffee, we took a walking tour based on Berlin in World War II. We met our tour group at the gates of the world-famous Berlin Zoo (but didn’t go in, so I want to go back) and walked around the city for the next three hours.
Our guide was a passionate college history student. Among many things, he showed us the Reichstag building, the enormous Hauptbahnhof, remnants of the old Berlin Wall, and ended at a parking lot under which Hitler had his last bunker and killed himself.
I often think about part of the tour where the tour guide had us stand on a sidewalk and look at the shops lining the street and apartments stacked above us. He told us to imagine how it was for a housewife who lived four stories high during the war when the Allies’ planes dropped bombs on the city. The housewife would cook and take care of children and do the grocery shopping with ration cards, but every minute, she had one ear open for planes and the air raid sirens.
When she heard the sirens scream, she’d turn off the burners on her stove, bundle up her children, trundle them down the steps, and head down the block to the nearest bomb shelter. She would wait there in the dark with strangers and sick, terrified children until they heard the all-clear sirens. Then she could go back home but never knew what time of day or night the sirens would go off again.
The level of stress, fear, and traumatic memories had to scar that generation beyond what we will ever know from history books.
These days, another era of devastation is happening in Syria, Turkey, and Greece, with traumatized men, women, and children running away from fire and bombs and being refused a safe place to stay. They’ve left everything they love and own, but people shoot at their boats to keep them from landing safely.
When I see those pictures and hear those stories, it makes me cry and feel like the richest girl in the world. Our current distress of endless disrupted plans and shelter-in-place restrictions is nothing like the trauma of being homeless and escaping bombs.
There’s a valid sense of loss and grief, but let’s keep some perspective. I don’t want to be glib because this IS real hardship for a lot of people, but we have food (not rations), soft and warm beds, electricity, and WiFi to connect us to our loved ones. This is hardly trauma–not the kind that rearranges our neural pathways and transfers to the next generation. It’ll be in the next history books, and it’s taking awhile to find our way, but MOST of us aren’t fragmented and devastated like a country in war.
A couple weeks ago, before the social distancing restrictions, a sweet friend hosted a painting tutorial party. It was the best way to spend an evening, and our teacher said she enjoyed it more than anyone, which was hard to imagine because we had so much fun.
While we painted, we talked about words we could put with it. Everyone had different ideas for words they could use. Several days after painting it, I cautiously wrote some light, feathery words on mine then took it to my office.
Now with the COVID-19 upheaval, I keep thinking about how we’re in a nest. It’s a little dark and prickly in spots and confining, but we’re utterly safe. We’re fragile and clueless, but the enduring nurture, tenderness, and gentleness of God’s feathers cover and carry us. We have access to healing and rest and comfort beyond words.
We’re not going to do this crazy era perfectly. We’ll get impatient and frustrated and feel odd compulsions, and it’s ok. Crisis brings out the worst and best in us, and we can give each other space to fail.
But what I love about this is that, unlike World War II, this is not one nationality pitted against another. The pandemic is global and it’s unifying humanity like we were created to be.
Christians should be leading the way to model what Kingdom citizens do in crisis: respect, serve, love generously, sacrifice, create, work in tandem with God to make His power and glory visible.
Like a great stage master behind the scenes, He has already been working to put the broken world to rights. We are covered with His feathers, and He had this wild idea that we could partner with Him in that enormous work. (Ok, the metaphors are getting muddled here, but think about it!)
I don’t know everything that partnering with the Almighty means but I’m in! It will probably not include heroics. It will probably mostly involve little, hidden decisions to do the next right thing and push against comfort and toward love for others.
14 thoughts on “Nested and Ready”
Thanks, Anita. My thoughts were running along similar lines, but you’re much better articulating them. It is so important to express these unchanging truths and shape our lives around them rather than being shaped by the many expressions of fear around us. I’m personally finding it very important to do intentional community in a time when we can’t meet for services. Today we had several neighbors from church over for a short service.
Yes, Nathan. This really highlights our deep need for connection! Among other connections I’ve enjoyed this week, my family had a conference Zoom call on Sun for 2 hours. It was great! 😊
Thanks so much for this. It’s so helpful to have some perspective! And I love the thought of it not being nationalities against each other this time. Jesus is so good to us. Love you!
So good, and such truth!
“Unifying humanity”, yes. Excellent perspective. At the deli, it’s like we all have a common goal–stay healthy.
And yes, we are utterly safe. Just last night, I prayed that as Christians, we could be agents of peace in this panicked world. And yes, I probably have as much germ-a-phobia as anyone. Part of me does just want to stay in my house for awhile. Yet as long as I have work at the deli, it seems I should go. I don’t know how to think about these things. But I want to be at peace….and I want to offer peace in the anxiety and frenzy.
I love this. May I share this, Anita?
Sure, Tabitha. Thanks!
Thank you, this is beautiful.
Yes, we are spoiled rotten no doubt! We wail and whine, and want cheese with our “whine”! Thank you for putting it all into perspective! I so love that verse, ” He will cover us with His feathers…” This morning as I was walking, a wee egg shell dropped right in front of me. I looked up, way up into the pine tree above, I couldn’t see anything, but I could imagine the activity in the nest. Can we similarly get out of our shells and trust God for His protection? Sending love from North Port in the Sunny South🌴
Thanks for showing up here, Sarah! I’d have loved to be taking that walk with you this morning!
Being an ER nurse, I don’t feel safe. I feel like I’m swinging on a thin branch high above a chasm and could drop any minute.
But God is still my refuge. And at this point, I’m healthy and my family is healthy. We have plenty to eat, a cozy home, and many people to love. I’m thankful for each day that I have!
You really are on the front lines, Rosina, and God’s eye is on you. Bless you and yours!
Such beautiful words, Anita. Especially these, “I keep thinking about how we’re in a nest. It’s a little dark and prickly in spots and confining, but we’re utterly safe. We’re fragile and clueless, but the enduring nurture, tenderness, and gentleness of God’s feathers cover and carry us.”