Finding beauty in the midst of chaos

I just came back into the house after dragging my garbage can back into the garage. Strange. It felt good! Some years back I used to rib my husband (now deceased) that I would never throw the garbage. He and my son would take turns. But today – why did throwing the garbage seem like a pleasant chore? Actually, the day’s so lovely outside. Very blue skies with nary a cloud but the beams of a glaring sunshine, and a mild breeze blowing the branches ripe for spring. But there’s something out of place in this glorious picture – the awful anxiety over an invisible enemy called COVID-19 gripping communities. A battle is raging, and there is chaos in the world.

Yet, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, using the words of a legendary TV host, Mr. Rogers, long gone but still much beloved and celebrated. Maybe, if he were alive today, he would still be singing that catchy song. Because in these anxious times, we look forward to hearing something cheery and good.

My point is, there is beauty in the midst of chaos. We take every effort to find beauty, and in finding it, we find hope, we find God.

The splendor of God’s beauty in nature, even in the clutch of chaos — blue haze on the mountain adds mystery to this breath-taking view from Jeanne’s Spanish hamlet (photo courtesy of Jeanne J. Ashkenazi).

This brings me to last Sunday’s live-stream worship online, the third due to mitigation efforts to fight the spread of the virus. Pastor Paul started his teaching with relating that recently, he and his wife sat on the beach at Santa Cruz, California. Breathing in the fresh ocean air, his attention was rivetted toward the ocean waves hitting a boulder close to shore. He observed surging waves that violently splashed and ricocheted around the rock, while some gentle ones shyly touched it, others, just pirouetted. Somewhere around the world, there were factors that induced how these waves behaved, he said. Somewhere out there, is a force or event, maybe cosmic, maybe earthly, that contributed to these enchanting foamy motions. Pastor Paul picturesquely conceptualized the notion of connectivity. Things – people – we – are all somehow connected. We are always affected by what happens in other parts of the world.

Quite a powerful reminder in this chaotic period – when we all are fighting the invisible enemy – together! Even the new norm of social distancing is a weapon that we all are doing, together. And together, we can overcome, with God. For with Him, nothing is impossible. Our fight is His, too.

I have heard numerous remarkable insights — spiritual, philosophical, logical, even practical — from the live-stream worship services that I’ve watched online. My Palo Alto church is in the middle of a seven-week series on the life, travails and lessons of Job in the bible. If you haven’t yet read his narrative, I strongly suggest it – it’s a story of redemption from the depths of pain and suffering. Actually, a story about God and His sovereignty, compassion, mercy and love. Nothing and no one is more magnanimous and powerful.

Now, why did I start this blog by sharing with you that I dragged the garbage can outside. Perhaps, there’s a message there, that there can be joy even in the very mundane tasks. At the very least, it brought me outdoors during the shelter-in confinement — where I could gaze directly at the blue skies, glint my eyes against the glorious rays of the sun and feel its warmth kiss my cheeks. I found beauty, and I thank God for it!

Linda P. Jacob