Beauty For Ashes In A World Full of Chaos…

Take one day at a time. Today, after all, is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.” ~Billy Graham

I think it’s safe to say we are all different today than we were when we rang in the new year. The visions of flowing champagne, noise-makers and party hats seem like a thousand years ago now…each of us, so full of hope and eager to begin a fresh start. None of us could’ve foreseen where we are today, filled with fear, locked in our homes, hiding behind scarves, masks and gloves.

We are afraid of everything now. We’re frightened to leave our homes in search of necessities and are forbidden to hug the ones we love most.

The threat of this virus is real. And it has brought us all to our knees. We are filled with sorrow, fear, frustration and worry. No one could’ve have predicted this blanket of darkness that has descended upon our world the way it has…no one.

Because of this momentous event in our lives, we are forever changed. Things feel different. And it’s safe to say, we’re living in a whole new world.

Each day, I turn on the news for an update on how we are holding up. Determined to remain positive, I try my best to look for the silver linings of our situation.

The reality is, there are desperate families out there who are unable to say goodbye to loved ones, and poor souls left to die alone. Families are locked away in small apartments with children to homeschool and no clue how to do it. There are businesses that will never recover. Parents who wonder how they will feed their families tonight. Healthcare workers who are exhausted beyond human capabilities… It is unfathomable to most of us, the pain and suffering people around the world have endured and will continue to endure for the unforseeable future.

But in the midst of this unimaginable devastation, there is beauty for ashes if you choose to look closely. All storms bring fresh, renewed clarity. And I believe, someday soon, we will recognize that there have been immeasurable blessings associated with this difficult time as well.

In our world before this virus, we were all in a hurry. We raced to Starbucks for our coffee’s, speed-walked to our offices, logged into on our computers and turned the beauty that surrounded us, OFF. We locked ourselves away in PTA meetings and high-rise offices, crunching numbers, cramming down sandwiches for lunch at our desks and sprinted for the elevator while praying traffic was light in order to get Johnny to baseball practice on time.

Rush. Rush. Rush. And never once did we notice, that the flowers on our patio window sill had bloomed and the fragrance was intoxicating if only we had taken the time to get up close.

Rush. Rush. Rush. Never realizing that the sandwich we were eating was our favorite, Chicken salad with walnuts, made by our loving mother who dropped it off in our frig the day before. We never even bothered to tell her thank you.

Rush. Rush. Rush. Never realizing that we missed the note little Johnny had left saying “I love you, Mommy” on the kitchen counter that morning.

Rush. Rush. Rush. Never realizing that when we came out of Starbucks, the man who opened the door was actually our high school teacher who tried to flag us down to say hello…we never even noticed him. We were running late for our yoga class.

Rush. Rush. Rush. Never realizing that our husband had just signed a big contract with a company he’d been working on for a long time and wanted to take us out to a fancy dinner to celebrate. We said we couldn’t because of the heavy load of paperwork to look over that night. We never even noticed how disappointed he was..

Rush. Rush. Rush. Never realizing that we had stopped praying at night. We used to pray. We remember being grateful for our blessings, but somewhere along the way, we stopped. It’s not that we aren’t grateful anymore, but who has time to pray? By the time we fall into bed, we’re out cold. Surely God understands, we’re crazy busy, right?

And then… the virus hit. And everything and everyone just.. stopped. It was as if the whole world came to a standstill.

Just like that; nothing was more important than the well-being of our families.

Now, we’re “stuck at home” doing yoga in the living room with our husbands, trying to show them the pose, Downward-Facing dog and laughing until the tears roll down our faces. We suddenly realize in that one moment, how much we’ve missed them.

Now, we’re playing go-fish at the dining room table with our kids while the homemade spaghetti sauce that we made with them that afternoon warms on the stove. We’d forgotten how heady the aroma of fresh basil smelled while simmering, or how absolutely delicious their giggles were…

Now, we’re calling to check on friends, our mom’s and dad’s, old relatives that we haven’t spoken to, really spoken with, in a long, long time. We’re rehashing old memories and catching up on their lives. We’re creating virtual happy hours on the computer over a good glass of wine. It becomes blazingly clear how wonderful these long, slow conversations are and we vow to make it a weekly occurance to stay connected.

Now, we scour the internet to find ways to help our community. We get our family involved in making facial masks for local healthcare workers. Together, we cook meals for the elderly and it makes us feel good to give back. All this makes us proud of the American spirit that still exists within us all. It’s gratifying to see our own children so willing to help others. It is the stout reminder of how impressionable they are and how much they truly need us to help mold them into good and decent adults for the world to share one day.

Now, when our head hits the pillow, we pray. We thank God for our healthy family’s and ask Him to continue to protect our loved ones. We pray for strangers, those who are afflicted with the virus and their families. And for the first time a long time, we feel God on the inside again. We feel whole and rested. We’re breathing slower, as if the true race is finally over. It is in this stillness that we grasp just how much we’ve missed the calming peace He brings our life.

Each of these scenarios provide beauty for ashes if only we choose to make them so. We don’t have to go back to yesterday. We have the ability to start over, renewed just as the sparkling, clean ending of a rain storm…dare I say, born again?

Unfortunately, it is painfully true that some will continue to suffer incomprehensively. This virus has, no doubt, brought us to our knees. But maybe it is only on our knees that we have been still long enough to recognize that we needed to change? Maybe it was the only way God could get us away from the noise of our lives in order to hear His voice…and to reaquaint us with the precious beauty He has so lovingingly provided for us? The uniqueness of our loved ones, the precious gift of time, the colors of the garden, the laughter of our friends, the smell of freshly cut grass, the wind on our faces…

Maybe we were missing it all, racing from one “non-essential” event after another and we never even noticed? Maybe the message for some of us is loud and clear…

Here’s what I hope you’ll take away from this as you begin the Easter weekend with your families:

*That life is indeed beautiful. Time is precious. Our families deserve more. That we need to learn to be still and listen closely to what others are trying to say.

*There is reassurance by the many random acts of kindness we have witnessed recently, that regardless of the severity of this virus, we will not only prevail, but we will be a better world than before.

*God is good, always. He will never forsake us. He is with us always. There are survivor stories of miracles happening each and every day. His messages are clear reminders for all of us each and every Easter season: He loves us. He holds us in the palm of his hands and will never let go.

Christ Is Risen…there is Beauty for ashes.

God bless you and your families. I hope this Easter will have a special, unique meaning for all of us this year. And I sincerely hope you will look closely for the beauty in your lives…because it’s there, waiting just for you.

Deuteronomy 31:8 “He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

As always, thanks for stopping by..

Love to all,

Michele E. Mathews

I welcome your feedback and if you’ve enjoyed my blog, please feel free to share! 🙂