A Word on Wednesday: Adventure

Having a spirit of adventure is one thing. Having the faith, courage, and confidence to act on that spirit is another. Lucky are those who have an adventure partner to share the journey. Luckier still, are those who have the same adventure partner for journey after journey.

adventure

As a noun, adventure is participation in an exciting undertaking or enterprise. It is an exciting or very unusual experience. As a verb, adventure is to risk or hazard; to take a chance of; dare.

When we think of adventure, we don’t necessarily consider it as a risky behavior. Especially, those who seek adventure when they are young. We seek fun: joy of discovery, pleasure of fine things, and thrills of exhilaration. 

However, the meaning of adventure — derived from Old French aventurer and from Latin adventura — was directly developed through risk and danger (a trial of one’s chances). The meaning later developed from “perilous undertaking.”

When we risk, when we adventure, what are we hoping to gain?

We seek sites of awe. We seek a glimpse of humanity displayed in an array of culture different from our own. We seek strength as we stretch beyond our comfort zones. We seek a break from routine. We seek a place to rest. We seek an interruption to complacency with the mundane of daily life. We seek meaning. 

In the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, we learn of the perils of his adventure. In Chapter 11, verse 26, he writes: “I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea.” Yet, Paul later boasts of the reward of visions and revelations of the Lord he received on his journey.

We all adventure to acquire. We gain perspective. That is why we take the risk. At minimum, souvenirs and stories and snapshots are amassed. Ideally, as we gain exposure to novel experiences, we learn peace through love and tolerance. We are unable to remain stagnant when we dare to adventure. There is growth as we witness new horizons and accomplish daring feats.

To you, today, I ask you to rejoice in all there is to be gained by adventuring. Perhaps the more roads you travel the more you will see they all lead to the Lord, our steadfast adventure partner.

 

A Word on Wednesday: Jeopardy

The Lord is our shelter in the storm. In the book of Luke (8:22-25), we learn of Jesus getting in a boat with his disciples. “So they set out … And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger.” The disciples, who were afraid, woke Jesus in a panic saying “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Jesus “rebuked the wind and raging waters, and they ceased, and there was a calm.” “Where is your faith?” He questioned.

jeopardy

I draw upon this story, because it is a tale of lives in jeopardy. Corona has put all our lives in jeopardy.  This virus has claimed, as of today, more than 122,000 lives in the United States alone.  That is one-hundred, twenty-two, thousand deaths.

Yet, I do not live with anxiety. I socialize with friends and family. I put my health in jeopardy. This is not because I think I deserve to survive because of some strong faith that I have. I do not delude that Jesus will spare me. It is not because I think I am healthy enough to survive.

I accept the risk, because I am tired. Tired of being cautious. Tired of living in fear. Also, it is because, I live in a rural area where I feel my chance of contracting the virus is less than those living in densely populated areas. However, I have been as close as two degrees of separation from tested-positive patients. This worries me enough to not jeopardize myself in large crowds. It concerns me enough to wash my hands excessively while at my day job.

Jeopardy is hazard or risk of or exposure to loss, harm, death, or injury. In this jeopardy, I consider my risk. I am comfortable rolling the dice, moderately, with caution.

However, as I consider this jeopardy I dance with, I must also consider my responsibility to others. To that end, I wear a mask in public settings. Yet, hypocritically, not with friends or family.

There are absolute life and death consequences associated with Corona. Should I resume sheltering in place and require my family to do the same? I am responsible for my actions and would feel terrible, guilty if my actions caused an infection to another.

God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai to serve as principles of moral behavior for the human race. The fifth commandment is thou should not kill, specifically, referring to murdering an innocent person.

Responsibility is the state of being responsible, answerable, or accountable for something within one’s power, control, or management. I suppose I take comfort that the virus and its spread is outside of my control, and therefore what responsibility do I really have?

Still I am left to ponder, what right do I have — even unknowingly — to put others in jeopardy?

Therefore, I pray. Pray for an end to this pandemic. Pray for life to resemble the normal we had known. Pray for the lives of my loved ones and me. Pray for the scientists to come to a solution. Pray for the families homeschooling their children. Pray for sensibility throughout the lands. Pray for our leaders at all levels to guide and protect us. Pray for economic recovery for businesses. Pray for financial relief for individuals. Pray for a new normal to emerge of greater compassion and gratitude.

A Word on Wednesday: Accolade

I always found doing something for the reward was less than. I found it better to forego credit and attempt to remain humble. It was my aspiration to be more altruistic, to do good work without recognition.

There is honor in notice. Accolades are not to be shied away from. The noun referrers to any award, honor, or laudatory notice. 

I think of the graduates this year, be it from college, high school, tech school, graduate school, or even the eighth grade. Their achievement is without ceremony. The applause is missing.

accolade

I think back on my own graduations. From high school, I wore a white gown and cap with an orange tassel and stood with the others from my small class. My parents were there, my teachers, my grandparents, my sister. I found the pomp and circumstance less than necessary. When, I graduated from college cum laude, I skipped the ceremony all together.  I shied  away from recognition, avoided the accolades.

Sports were never a part of my life. I wasn’t raised to be a competitor. I never stood on a podium for a metal or ribbon. I never learned the lessons of pride from an athletic achievement. Instead, I was an introvert, reading, writing. I did compete in Swing Choir and Forensics. But those activities drew few spectators and the state competitions were quiet and far away. We didn’t ride a bus with painted windows to the capital.

Somehow, at my middle age, I have yet to learn the poise of confidence. I have yet to become comfortable in others highlighting my professional, literary, and personal accomplishments.

Accolade originates from phrasing roughly translated to embracing around the neck. It was originally a word used for a tapping of the sword on the shoulders to confer knighthood. Extending meaning is as praise, award.

Certainly, what could I do that would warrant such a gesture as this!

I think of  The Parable of Talents from the Book of Matthew. Those who were able to multiple the talents given were given more. The one who buried his talent away had that too taken from him.

With confidence, I can sow what I have been given and reap what is possible. From this, I can hear the following verse: 

“His lord said to him, ‘Well donegood and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'” (Matthew 25:16-23).

A Word on Wednesday: Opportunity

Opportunity means conditions are favorable to achieve some end.

People say, “opportunity is all around us,” and they also say, “Don’t waste a good opportunity.” Which one is it? How many times does opportunity knock? How can you be ready for it?

opportunity

From Old French in the late Fourteenth Century, opportunitie, translates to “fit, convenient, or seasonable time.” Opportunity’s current definition does not deviate far from that root: “a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.”

Therefore, it stands to reason, that to seize opportunity, the goal should be top of mind and clearly defined. I recommend reading the late Zig Ziglar’s many motivational books on business, specifically sales, success.

Opportunity, in so much as having the occasion to succeed, is like luck. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The harder I work, the more luck I have.”

This expression used by farmers, “make hay while the sun is shining” reminds us to use the opportunities when they are present. We are not guaranteed endless days of optimal conditions. From the book of John when Jesus gave sight to a blind man, we hear the advice, We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” John 9:4.

The opportunity we must most be mindful of is the opportunity to live out Jesus’ will. What talents has he bestowed on you to use for the good of the world?

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10.

With this blog, I have the opportunity to share the word, albeit without the benefit of a theological degree. This is my quiet, subtle promise to be an evangelist. From 2 Timothy 4:2, I am reminded to “Preach the word; be ready in season and out to season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching.”“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5.

For me, it is the written word that has been bestowed upon me and developed through opportunities. What is your opportunity to please the Lord?

 

A Word on Wednesday: Appropriate

Appropriate, having the right thing for the right occasion.

appropriateA week ago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order, essentially leaving the state a free for all. There is no government policy guiding how to reopen with suitable precautions in place. 

Immediately after the action, the Wisconsin Tavern League issued a statement encouraging bar owners to open. And they did. Pictures of bars throughout the state packed with people shoulder to shoulder flooded the internet. As a resident, it was a complete source of embarrassment.

In the aftermath of the ruling, counties and municipalities put out their own guidelines, which also were overruled a day later. Now it is in the hands of business owner to business owner. And resident to resident to be appropriate. This is not the time to live with reckless abandon.

Politics aside, I believe it is inappropriate to ignore the pandemic, which cannot be legislated into extinction. I acknowledge Wisconsin isn’t the hardest hit. (As of today, 12,885 cases and 467 deaths in the state.) 

However, I will not buy into the idea that this virus only kills those who are “expendable.” Someone living with advanced age or an underlying health conditions do not deserve to die from a horrendous virus.

Therefore, I think the following guidelines, as outlined by the CDC, are appropriate.

  1. Wear a mask in public.
  2. Maintain social distance.

Of course, the list is longer than that, and you can read it here.

As I struggle to remain diligent in my behavior to slow the spread and flatten the curve, I pray that the lead researchers on this pandemic can be guided to a solution.

A Word on Wednesday: Daffodil

This concrete noun is a bulbous plant, Narcissus pseudonarcissus, of the amaryllis family, having solitary, yellow, nodding flowers that bloom in the spring. 

More than that, it is the sign of spring as sure as a fat robin here in Wisconsin. In my garden, I have seen these blooms as soon as early March. This year, it is late April, and the daffodils are stunted and sad, limp and weeping.

Daffodil

April can seem the longest month. Winter began last October with the children trick-or-treating in the snow! We thirst to be outside without bundled layers. After the calendar announced the first day of spring more than a month ago, we await Mother Nature to do her part!

The childhood rhyme goes, “April showers, bring May flowers.” This April, I still have down-filled puffer jacket on the hook by the door. How nice to think of an umbrella and rain boots instead.

However, this too, shall pass. Other years, the daffodils will be stronger, more vibrant.

 

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Exhausted

We are living through a pandemic. Here, in a rural, sleepy, Midwestern town, there are just a handful of cases, and as of yet, no deaths.

The close reaching effect on me is nothing. I have not lost my income, earlier I wrote about my essential day job. I am young enough to recoup my lost investments. And, most importantly, I am not ill with the virus. 

I mostly stay home. When venturing out, I social distance. I veer from the path of others on my late afternoon walks, wait politely at the grocery store aisles for others to pass, gather virtually with family and friends, and worship by watching a live stream. Online discussions replaced book club this month.

I long to see my friends; I need the gabbing giggles of the sisterhood! I do not have my gaggle of gal pals to fill me with belly laughs and encouragement and fellowship.

In Wisconsin, we have a “Stay at Home Order.”  Its end is threatening into an unknown future date, word of its extension on the horizon. My action, is inaction.

Yet, I am exhausted. I hesitate to use the word depressed, but I fear my state is skating to that edge. For now, I am content to concede, I am exhausted, nothing more, nothing less.

Exhausted

Just last month, I was writing about being busy, so busy! I wonder how inaction can cause such exhaustion. Perhaps, it is the news I consume, the horror from the hot spots. Perhaps, it is my daily wine, drank in boredom. Perhaps it is over consumption of food, baked to pass the time.

Regardless of its root, I declare, I am exhausted — drained of strength or energy, worn out.

It is time for me to replenish that which has been lost. It is not that which depleted my energy, which is of importance. It is how I can restore it that matters. I must stretch beyond, the obvious — sleep, fresh air, movement, and nourishment. These things have not alleviated my exhaustion. I remain mentally and physically weakened.

If I’m being honest, I am also depleted spiritually. My last thought, is to turn to my faith. I know this season will end; it is all temporary.

I look to the following verses to replenish what has been lost, to relieve my exhaustion.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10.

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:12

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Essential

Essential: adjective, absolutely necessary; indispensable.

I live in Wisconsin. Schools are closed, non essential businesses are closed. I am grateful for the Stay at Home order from Governor Tony Evers.

For me, there is still the day job. I feel like I won a booby prize being considered “essential.” I work in health care, but not as a front-line worker.

Essential

It is great for my mental health to be out and with people doing work that is meaningful. It is great to take a break from the devastating world news that I consume ravenously.

Yet, I worry about the exposure from the symptom-less carriers I could be interacting with. Everyone who enters our hospital is screened for symptoms and fevers. Those who are exhibiting them are redirected to a quarantine-ready location.

I wear a surgical mask. No one can see my smile. Yet, my tears will be obvious when I become overwhelmed.

A Word on Wednesday: Sociable

Sociable: A character trait.

sociable

Sociable, as an adjective, describes someone who is inclined to associate with or be in the company of others. It describes someone who is friendly or agreeable in company; companionable.

It wasn’t that long ago, that I was highly sociable. We hosted thirty people at our house for Christmas day. This included eight children and one newborn. It was a wonderful day!

In January, we hosted more than twenty friends for a birthday party. It was a buzzing success.

In February, I attended my two monthly book clubs, one with wine, both with laughter and discussion with the sisterhoods.

In March, it came to a halt with the advent of “social distancing.” Was a walk okay? Should we still have book club? What about extended family? Who is compromised? Who is a carrier? What should we avoid?

While, I have always been grateful to be connected with many, many sociable people, I have always been just as grateful for snow storms that shut me into my Wisconsin home.

Now that staying in isn’t a choice, I appreciate my more sociable friends who have reached out with technology to host virtual happy hours and family gatherings. We have used Facebook Messenger and Zoom applications.

I look forward to the day when we can again socialize with a return to normalcy, which will undoubtedly be different from the normal of yesterday.

 

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Fellowship

Fellowship is a community of companionship.

fellowship

When I think of fellowship, I think of coffee hour after worship on Sunday mornings. It is one of the meanings of the word, and the most obvious place I put the concept into practice. “Communion, as between members of the same church.”

As a noun, it originates from Middle English 1200, feolahschipe “companionship,” from fellow + -ship. Sense of “a body of companions.”

Taken to modern day, the noun is the condition or relation of being a fellow: the fellowship of humankind. It also is defined as a friendly relationship or a community of interest. 

In a secular sense, I have great fellowship with writers, with readers, with card game competitors, with family.

In a faith community sense, I was slow to adopt to this behavior of connecting with others at my church. As a Catholic, I very much just attended Mass, where I said silent prayers, chanted and sang together. Beyond exchanging peace, my interaction with other congregates, was limited. I did not gather in the church basement or some other fellowship hall.

As I transitioned to worship at a Presbyterian Church, I continued to dodge the social hour and made way for the parking lot as soon as the benediction concluded.

I felt my faith was stunted in this way. I was unable to grow in community. By saying yes to fellowship, I have experienced the power of symmetry. Meaning the sum of its parts are greater than the whole. Alone, I can do little. With fellowship of believers, I can sustain a greater affirmation of the Word and carry it through the week ahead.

Knowing my neighbors in the congregation and connecting with them, I can hold them and their concerns in my heart. And, even more humbly, I can rely on them to hold my spiritual needs in theirs.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together , they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone. And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12