David's Monday Morning Musings, Post-Irma
From the desk of Dr. David Swanson
"I will be with you always, even to the end of the age...." Matthew 28:20
As Hurricane Irma bore down upon us days ago, I found it sobering to hear Emergency Management Officials say, "If you need help during the storm, you're on your own until it's safe for our people to be out." In other words, for this period of time, you're alone. Certainly, some of us had family members or friends huddled with us, but even then, it was a lonely feeling. We can all experience such seasons in life - periods of time where loneliness is our constant companion - and it's painful. Studies have shown that loneliness is part of the same human systemic reaction as hunger and thirst. When essential food is missing, we get hungry; when essential relationships are missing, we get lonely. Unfortunately, our culture is forcing us into patterns of behavior that increase that loneliness. The New York Times recently called it an epidemic. We are losing the important relational connection of face to face relationship and replacing it with a screen - a smart device - and it's not at all the same. If we want to fight those feelings, or help others, it's time to look up from those screens and pay attention to the PEOPLE around us every day.
Scripture also offers us some hopeful words through David's wisdom in Psalm 25. David was a "man after God's own heart," yet he went through a season of loneliness - and he admitted it. I hope that will blow up any social stigma associated with being lonely. Unfortunately, some think such an admission is a sign of social weakness or a character flaw. Nonsense. David recognizes the problem and then recalls what he knows: God is with him. It is the underlying drumbeat of the Bible: I am with you. The advent of Jesus Christ is its fullest expression. God IS with us. Further, he has given us an earthly solution to the problem: His covenant as expressed through His Church. God makes a covenant with HIs people - not one person - but a corporate body - which now has its expression through the church. By faith, we ARE part of that body and as such, we become the incarnation of Christ to others. It should not surprise us that an epidemic of loneliness has arisen at the exact same time church attendance and commitment is dwindling. The church is God's gift for essential connection to Him and to others......so plug in!
FUNNIEST HURRICANE MOMENTS: The news reporter standing outside in Miami talking about the horrific conditions, only to have two bikers ride down the empty street behind him completely unaffected - pretty much negated his point; and the guy standing on the sea wall taking the photo who then gets taken out by a wave. #alwayskeepyoursenseofhumor
PROUD OF The Church: As we all know, the Church of Jesus Christ is made up of flawed, broken people. That's why we're there - we realize we desperately need a Savior. Even so, the Church has always seemed to be at her best in times of crisis. It's been true throughout history, and it's been true in the past month during both Harvey and Irma. First Pres has been one of hundreds of local churches that have served in the manner of Jesus - humbly, tirelessly, sacrificially - in order to help others. #shiningJesus
MARATHON METEOROLOGY: I am grateful for the meteorologists, both nationally and locally, who worked for hours on end to keep us informed. The local crews on most stations were up for at least 24 hours, and were right back on the air the next afternoon. I was grateful to have power in my home so I could watch them - all night.
THERAPY DOGS: I'm a dog person, and I was certainly glad to have her around during the storm. Our pets are often a source of calm, so it was good to hear a recent study that showed they indeed love us - and AT LEAST as much as they love food. #doesshelovemeorAlpo?
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF: All week, I heard people speak about the emotional whirlwind of the past two weeks. I call it "hurricane hangover." We had five days of buildup, growing anxiety as we watched the track shift. We then endured a frightful 36 hours as it roared over us. Then we had to clean up, assess the damage, check on family and friends, sleep through powerless nights and endure exhausting days - only to be expected to go right back to normal life as if nothing had happened. Something DID happen, so don't require that you be some sort of superhuman. You are emotionally and physically spent, so take some time where possible to process it with others, pray through it, journal about it, get some exercise, take a nap, or find a corner to have a good cry - whatever helps you grapple with hardship. Give yourself a few weeks to recover your sense of equilibrium.
In this new age of stainless steel appliances, I miss refrigerators that were covered with photos, children's artwork, invitations, honors, ribbons and notes. It was the chronicle of a family story. I could visit a family, look at the fridge, and learn a great deal in an instant. #bringbackthemetal
This is an excerpt from David's regular #MMM Monday Morning Musings on Facebook. Read the full post.
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The Rev. Dr. David D. Swanson is the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. In his spare time, Dr. Swanson enjoys reading, running, playing pick-up basketball and golf. More about David.