Though I truly believe that every day is a gift and that no day is a bad day, today I have not lived accordingly. My lack of appreciation began last night when I tossed and turned rather than sleeping soundly as I usually do. The myriad of thoughts racing through my mind refused to give way to my fatigue. Each time my eyes began to close, something came to mind that caused them to open wide in anger, sorrow, melancholy or sheer frustration. I must have slept eventually because I awoke this morning as my husband tiptoed out of our bedroom to the kitchen for his morning coffee.
The hour was early and I wanted to pull the covers over my head. Still, I dragged myself out of bed to do my morning exercises. This routine usually leaves me with energy and a smile. Today, however, it left me annoyed. The distractions that prevented my sleep caused me to lose count of my reps and to repeat some movements rather than to follow the program I mastered years ago. In spite of my poor showing, I headed toward the kitchen for breakfast only to be distracted by the pile of paperwork next to my computer. “Perhaps getting through email will give me a head start.” I told myself.
It was forty minutes later when my growling stomach alerted me to the passage of time. Already, I was behind for the day. Mind you, this schedule is self-imposed and of no consequence to anyone except me. This morning, I found this self-inflicted attempt to bring structure to my day to be aggravating at best.
Hungry as I was, nothing tasted good to me. Those pesky nighttime thoughts returned to distract me from a usually tasty breakfast, the beautiful flowers beyond our kitchen window and the trio of birds flitting about in the birdbath. For no apparent reason, tears streamed down my cheeks. It was then that I looked beyond the flowers and birdbath in our yard toward the sky. Though I know God is always with us, in us and around us, when pointing out my troubles to the Almighty, I habitually look upward. “This is too hard. I want things to be normal again, but they’ll never be normal again because everything is different. Everything will always different. As soon as I feel normal again, something else will happen.” I found myself too distraught to wait for a response. Rather, I headed to my keyboard to drown my sorrows in productivity. Fortunately for me, God responded in spite of the fact that I walked away from our conversation.
As I read John’s gospel (John 6:60-69) to prepare for this writing, I found myself in the company of Jesus’ followers who found his message to be too difficult. It was one thing to witness a few healings and miracles. After all, those present were fed well as a result. It was quite another to be told that they had to consume Jesus’ flesh and blood. Good Jewish people never cooked and ate the flesh of an animal until the blood had been drained from it. How then could they be expected to eat the flesh and blood of a man? “This saying is hard, who can accept it?” they asked as they walked away. It struck me that those who returned to their lives-before-Jesus did so a bit too easily. I wondered why they didn’t ask Jesus to explain further. He had done so much for them that it seemed foolhardy to write-off Jesus without more thought.
It occurs to me that I have been behaving just as thick-headedly on this difficult day. I’ve allowed my nighttime worries to cast a shadow on the God of all Consolation who has been with me all along. Rather than turning my eyes upward when I woke in the midst of misery, I allowed that misery to blur my vision and to distort everything in sight.
After Jesus watched his one-time followers walk away, he turned to his twelve closest friends to inquire, “Do you also want to leave?” Without hesitation, Simon Peter responded, “Master, to whom shall we go?” Though I refused to listen for most of the day, I find that the same question is posed to me. “Do you also want to leave?” Jesus asks. Without hesitation, I echo Peter. “Master, to whom shall I go?” Had I followed Simon Peter’s lead and looked heavenward for consolation, I would have sported my current smile and rediscovered the peace in my heart several hours ago.
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