Wish you were here . . .

“A friend of mine sent me a postcard with a picture of the whole Earth on it. And on the back it said, ‘Wish you were here.’”
— Comedian, Steven Wright

The first time we went to Disney World, Tim was 7 years old and Linda was five months pregnant with Matthew. It was late spring in Orlando, Florida — a beautiful, sunny, mildly cool first day out to the park. In spite of arriving at the park early, it was a really crowded day. And as the morning progressed, the lines to some of Tim’s favorite rides grew longer and longer. Linda was, of course, growing increasingly weary standing for 20, 30, 40 minutes and I was growing pretty impatient with the standing and the crowds myself. And then we looked down at Tim, jumping up and down excitedly, who looked up at just the right moment and shouted, “I’m at Disney World!”

There’s something to be said for perspective. Linda smiled and went to sit down and I laughed with some of the other folks standing in the turnstiles around us. He was absolutely right — at some point we have to step back from our immediate frustration or private sense of crises and admit, a frustrating, crowded day at Disney World is still a pretty good day in a life.

How do you get perspective on things? The book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, in one of the Bible’s most famous pieces of poetry, begins with the line, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . .” (Surely the song by the Byrds is rolling around in your head, “To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn.”  — you’re welcome!)

The author of Ecclesiastes offers some wise reflections on what it means to stand in the turnstiles of life, to live and die, to plant and reap, to face the seeming repetitive cycles of life with a sense of purpose in what sometimes can seem frustrating at best and senseless or lacking any purpose at all at worst. And the author’s point seems to be about perspective.

This Sunday is Earth Day and I am reminding myself what it means to be present and accounted for in the midst of our living, what it means to participate fully in Creation as part of creation. It’s easy to feel lost in this relatively short span of life we seem to have, to get overwhelmed by the business of life or health issues that arise, or family crises, or taxes much more so with issues of poverty, war, and global warming. How do you find your place in things? How do we find some perspective?

Perhaps it’s often less about not being able to navigate our way around and more about simply realizing we are precisely where we need to be to do the next right thing in that moment. Being lost and overwhelmed can truly be a matter of perspective.

Tim was always easy to find in a crowd, even in such a place as Disney World. His bright red hair made him an easy find in a Where’s Waldo world. Little did we know how that ultimately frustrated him that he could never “blend in” but always stood out in a crowd! Years later, he traveled to Germany and the Netherlands. He texted us a picture from Amsterdam where he was attending the International Redhead Festival. It was a picture of thousands of redheads! And the text simply said, “Where’s Tim?”

How do we gain perspective in our most challenging times personally and as a community?

This Sunday, Earth Day, we continue our series on Catching Fire: Living with Exuberance as we explore having a little mind or a big mind about things and finding perspective in life! I hope you can join us!

Sunday, April 22, Earth Day
“the whole shebang — kit and caboodle, too”
rev tom mcdermott
special music by our “Tiny Ukulele Orchestra”, Brad Thompson, the Revolution Band
and the music of Bruce Springsteen, Alanis Morrisette, and Ellis Paul

Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven celebration


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