Both Sides Now

The world has narrowed for most of us.  

We used to go where we pleased.  We ate in restaurants, we drank beer at breweries and we went to see live music shows--packed like sardines into small venues.  

We traveled without caution.  We went to amusement parks and movie theaters without fear.  We stood in line for things right next to each other.  

But the world has changed and so have we.  

We might be able to see what's happening in Sri Lanka by touching the screen on our phone, but we either can't or won't drive to shop in our favorite store in the next town over. The world has narrowed. 

We've been quarantining for the past several days because my middle son tested positive for COVID, and we've got a few more to go before we can get tested again.  

Even the little bit of freedom we have had during COVID has been removed now as we're hunkering down in the house, retreating to our various corners... waiting it out.  

It's not a terrible thing, really.  We have everything we need, and then some.  

But I'm more aware of the narrowing of things than I was a little less than a year ago when all of this madness began.  I'm rawer than I was then, I  suppose.  I am more susceptible to feelings of helplessness.  

I heard an old song today, sung by someone new.  The song is Both Sides Now written by Joni Mitchell in 1968, but sung by a new artist by the name Luke Sital.  

Oh, but now old friends they're acting strange
And they shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day
I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

I've heard that song a hundred times over the course of my life, sung by a score of different artists, but for some reason today when I heard it, I was overwhelmed by nostalgia, wistful longing, and a good measure of straight-up sadness.  

That song is brilliant because it's so very true.  None of us really know life at all.  We never really did---even before COVID and all of its varied trials and tribulations.  Memory is an illusion that is based on our best recollections, wishes, and deep desires.  

Besides, the world is different now... life is different... we are different. 

And you have a choice as to how you live from this day forward.  You can choose to withdraw into an ever-narrowing way of living that makes the world around you smaller and more manageable... and you along with it.  

Or you can "screw your courage to the sticking place" and step forward into the unknown---certain only in your uncertainty, and this one very important thing:  

You are not alone as you move forward.  God is already there in the future... waiting in all of your tomorrows for you to arrive.    

For my part, I choose to cling to Jesus' words to his followers about "preparing a place" for them somewhere in the future---out there in the murky, misty fog of tomorrow.  

I also choose to trust that no matter what tomorrow might bring,  I don't have to live a small, narrowly focused life.  My world might be narrowed for now, but that doesn't mean that my heart has to follow suit. 

Let's make the choice to move forward and live bigger.  Let's trust that God is already fixing up tomorrow, or at the very least fixing us up to be able to face tomorrow.  

May it be so for all of us.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always.  Amen.  


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