It is 5:30 in the morning. And here I sit in my bedroom praying. Suddenly I feel chilly. So I get up and grab the afghan from the foot of my bed. It is the one my mother crocheted for me years ago. And it is beautiful. It is a herringbone pattern in bright yellow, oranges, and browns. I sit down and drape it over my lap, legs, and slippered feet. Immediately I begin to feel the warmth—as if the afghan were an electric blanket.
But, I remind myself, the warmth I am feeling is not coming from the afghan. It is coming from me. It is my body that is generating the warmth. The afghan is merely “trapping” my own heat and turning it back upon myself, thus preventing that heat from dissipating into the chilly room.
Conserving self-generated heat is a trick human beings have employed since prehistoric times. Humans used this little trick to stay alive in very cold weather or to be more comfortable in chilly places. In my mind’s eye, I can see people in a cave huddled together under animal hides, or a family in a mud hut curled up beneath a blanket woven of pliant grasses, or small children in a log cabin sleeping beneath a goose down quilt. This morning, huddled beneath my mother’s bright afghan, I feel I am one with all of them.
There are several lessons here. Here’s one: Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have inside ourselves. Sometimes we don’t appreciate our own gifts, capabilities, or powers. When we are facing a difficult situation, for instance, often our first instinct is to reach out to someone else for help. Don’t get me wrong. It can be a good thing to seek help from others. But let us not forget the powers that reside within ourselves. Each of us has been
given gifts and abilities. Sometimes it is precisely the challenges in life that bring these gifts to the fore. The so-called “hard things” can reveal or develop our inherent powers and capabilities.
Jesus commanded us to love others. That is a difficult challenge to be sure. But Jesus also told us to love God and ourselves. My experience has shown that the more we love and appreciate ourselves, the freer we are to reach out to others in selfless loving. That’s a paradox, I know. But Christianity is filled with paradoxes.
Today we might ask ourselves: what are some of my gifts, abilities, or powers? How have they helped to sustain me in the past? How might these same gifts and powers help to sustain others as well?
Let us pray:
Gracious God, Source of all warmth,
give me a greater awareness of my inherent gifts and powers today.
When I encounter difficulties or hard times,
help me first to turn inward and see what gifts you have already given me
to face the challenges in my daily life.
Please remind me to carve out time to love You, others, and myself. Amen.
Today’s song is by Carrie Newcomer. I want to thank Justin Huyck, the pastoral minister at St. Michael’s in Canton, OH, for introducing her to me. This song is entitled “You Can Do This Hard Thing.” The first time I played this video, tears welled up in my eyes. It was the combination of the words, the music, her mellow voice, the images. The song recalled some of the “hard things” I have already faced in my life and the “hard things” I see coming in the future. It also recalled friends or loved ones who reassured me that I could do “this hard thing.” May this song bring you hope no matter what hard thing you may be facing at this time in your life.
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PS: I have tried to response to all your responses, but I am having technical difficulties with my blog… I’ll try again later. Sorry.