Artist’s Lane – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 25 Jun 2020 21:08:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg Artist’s Lane – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Artist’s Lane: ‘Love me, love my dog’ http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-love-me-love-my-dog/ Mon, 29 Jun 2020 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=206308 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

I call him “my Precious.” There is a bit of inside family humor in that name. Previously, he was known and prayed for by his more common name, the prodigal son. 

For years, I prayed, “Bring home my prodigal son.” And God heard me. Admittedly, I now pray, “Remind me why I wanted my Precious home?”

When a grown son comes home, things change. He steps comfortably into new shoes and grabs the reigns like an old pro. 

When my prodigal son moved back from the Philippines, he said, “I’m bringing my two golden retrievers with me.” He was testing the waters and saying, “Love me, love my dogs.” 

We didn’t know where he would end up once back on U.S. soil. The sensible thing to do was to try to talk him into leaving his dogs behind. I quickly realized that welcoming him with open arms meant making room for the addition of paws. 

I have come to accept that to a dog lover, it’s a dog’s world. And that is not isolated just to family. Friends call to say that they want to come for a visit. If not on the tip of my tongue, it is certainly on the top of my mind: “Please don’t bring your pets into our home … if you do, leave them outside.” To that all I can say, they always do, and they never do. 

I know all too well after years and years of trying to come between my Sweet Al and his beloved Whiskey, don’t! People and their pets are bound for life. And no matter how comfortable I am in being called heartless on this particular topic, I know that you just can’t separate a man and his beast. 

So, yesterday, “my Precious” told us his friend wanted to come and stay in the guest house for the weekend. And, by the way, she is bringing her dog with her. 

I said to him, “You know how I feel about guests bringing their animals into the house. They mark their territory, chew on things and make a mess in every room.” 

Famous last words, “She will just keep the dog in a crate.” 

Right, and the next thing I know, Pooch is lounging on a down duvet surrounded by a lumbar and neck roll pillow. 

I had to rehash the day’s conversation with “my Precious” to clarify how I felt about the dog topic. My son’s response, “The country is sick and on fire and you’re worried about a dog?”

Evidently, I wasn’t going to win this argument.

As much as I go around and around with my Sweet Al about his dog, when it comes to traveling, she stays put. We make arrangements to board her or ask family members to come over and care for her. 

Dare I ask the same of others, and I have committed the unthinkable. 

I know all about Lassie, the famous collie, the television star of the 1940s who ran to the rescue every time Timmy got in to trouble. To be truthful, I’d settled for an alert bracelet. 

This house has never been void of animals. My Sweet Al is a dog lover and so are three of our four children. From the day I married Al, he has always had a dog. One dog is OK, but when each child brings their dog with them and invites guests to do the same, I ask myself, “who is paying the property taxes anyway?”

Final brushstroke: It is not enough that I have to deal with My Sweet Al and his dog, Whiskey. Now, I have to put up with “my Precious,” his dog and his dog-loving friends. So, I have crafted a new plan. You can come and stay, provided you and your guest pay to send me away for a spa weekend. “Love me, love my dog” translated, “Let me escape, or go someplace else.” 

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Artist’s Lane: When the other shoe falls http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-when-the-other-shoe-falls/ Wed, 24 Jun 2020 11:00:04 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205874 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

For years, I lived in the shadow of what might come: a phone call, a knock on the door or an inconsiderate stance. I waited for the other shoe to drop. Something I knew was coming, but just didn’t know when or how. 

The problem with this line of thinking is that it can be embedded with fear, something that has taken me years of faith to combat. 

Faith vs. fear. A dichotomy founded by a god of love or the one who will do anything to destroy us. The outcome, the effect of the cause. We can either be renewed or broken down.

At no time has any of this been clearer to me. And as a culmination of my understanding, I believe that we are nearing the beginning of the end. 

Interesting how such words can cause some to embrace hope while blindsiding others. Words that can cause us to stand firm or to wallow in despair. 

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” But do we really hold these words to be true today? Can we even grasp the fullness of such a statement? I have come to the realization that walking by faith is to walk in the present. If we walk by sight, we do so based on the effects of something that has already happened, an aftermath. 

I get the boldness of that thought. It is almost too abstract for me to fully grasp. But, take the vastness of the universe as an example. When we see the brightness of a star, are we seeing it for what it is? Based on the speed of light, what we are seeing is something that happened long, long ago. 

I believe Jesus Christ is the true God -— certainly, a truth that is beyond anything I can see. Am I to just wait until that truth can manifest into something that I can see in order to believe? Or, do I live by faith, waiting for the one who lives beyond what I can see? 

We live in a visible world. Do we believe it because we can see it? Or do we believe it as the effect of something unseen, having a faith in the one who created it? 

Walking in faith, believing in a perfect loving God is enough to cast away my fear. I no longer have to wait in questionable anticipation for the other shoe to fall, but to believe that God has something incredible waiting for me when it does. 

Final brushstroke: We see things every day that cause us to ask why, or how, or even when. But we can rest on the belief that we have been prepared for such a time as this. Not because we see evidence of it, but because we believe in a God of love, the one who will deliver us beyond anything we can know. 

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Artist’s Lane: For such a time as this http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-for-such-a-time-as-this/ Mon, 15 Jun 2020 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205555 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

We operate in the currency of the day. I told my Sweet Al that each person’s currency is different, used to negotiate whatever we see is important.

After three months, we are leaving isolation and entering a new place. News reporters ask, “Do we know how to navigate our new normal?” 

A better way of asking the same question: “Are we stepping into a new country with yesterday’s currency in hand?”

For people of faith, our currency is the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to worry about an exchange rate because God’s word never changes. Deposit a few coins and we release the power of prayer. 

“For such a time as this.” A fitting quote that dates back to a time when Esther and her father’s family were facing death. Yet, she found the courage to look death in the face, saying, “If I perish, I perish.” Her journey was greater than the unknown before her. 

Twenty years ago, I found myself in a place that wasn’t familiar. It required a different currency, not to mention the use of a different language, both of which were foreign to me. 

Allison, one of my daughters, invited me to go with her to Brazil on vacation. She was flying from Virginia and I would be flying from Albuquerque. We were to meet in Rio de Janeiro. From there, we would catch a flight to Vitoria, a city on the southern shore of Brazil.

Delayed getting through customs, I didn’t have a way to communicate where I was or what was happening. Allison, not knowing if I had even made it to Brazil, waited as long as she could then boarded the next leg of travel without me. All remaining flights to Vitoria had departed by the time I cleared customs. My only option, take a bus to a small commuter airport on the other side of the city. 

Not being adept with international travel, I neglected to exchange my U.S. dollars for Brazilian reals in advance. I assumed it was something I could easily take care of once I reached my destination. Of course, I hadn’t planned on being detained, which altered what little planning I had done. 

In order to ride the bus to the other airport, I had to use Brazil’s currency. I ran from place to place looking for someone who would exchange my dollars. It probably wouldn’t have been that difficult had I known how to speak Portuguese. 

Exhausted and at my wit’s end, I finally found an American couple who was willing to exchange some money for me. I was relieved, until I realized what lay ahead. I still needed to figure out how to board a bus and explain to the driver where I wanted to go. 

Even now, I still attest to that day being one of the biggest nightmares of my life. I will never forget how I felt as I sat on that rickety bus next to people I couldn’t communicate with, traversing streets only seen in movies. This was before cellphones, my daughter was in flight, and I didn’t even know where I would meet her if and when I got to my final destination. 

Today, it seems as if many are going through the biggest nightmare of their lives. After all, who of us was prepared for such a time as this?

Although translated speech is important when trying to navigate foreign soil, cash is king. As Christians, our key to opening any door is our faith, Jesus being the only one who knows the shape and strength of the metal that unlocks the lock. 

Imagine having the faith of Esther, who was willing to risk even death, but had the confidence to say, “if I perish, I perish.” Her journey was not based on the difficulty of the time, but in her confidence to arrive where she needed to go.

Final brushstroke: My faith was tested in a foreign land. It was that faith that helped me to survive in the world where I found myself. Sometimes we have to be stripped of everything before we realize the power and value of the currency that resides deep within us. But once we do, we find the confidence to unlock the mysteries of tomorrow.

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Artist’s Lane: Called on the carpet http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-called-on-the-carpet/ Sun, 07 Jun 2020 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205097 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

This article was provoked, yes, provoked, by a conversation with my son. I asked, “When do parents get too old or too quiet for their voices to be heard?”

It has been said that some people lose their voice in the decisions made by well-meaning children. Maybe the elderly are too cantankerous and uncooperative to be reasonable.

My children often quote a favorite line from “the Golden Girls” warning that if I become too difficult, “It’s Shady Pines, ma!” 

I am sure that I have given them reason to want to ship me off. Probably more than once. I don’t consider myself elderly yet. So, in the meantime, I plan on speaking my mind, whether I am heard or not. 

The other day, I saw a spot on the carpet when I walked into the living room. My son said, “You’re speaking without saying a word.”

Yes, I am. In fact, without saying even a single word, I spoke very loudly. I’m not sure which of the many dogs who frequent my living room did it, but one of them had eaten something leaving a greasy spot on my carpet. 

My son said, “I’ll clean it up.”

I didn’t say a word, I didn’t have to. We both knew what I was thinking. Some conversations are better left unsaid. 

I came to a stopping point with something I was writing recently. I asked my son if he would critique my work and tell me what he thought the problem was. 

He quickly said, “Maybe it’s you.”

“Me? I just asked you to critique my writing. It doesn’t seem as funny as I imagined.”

“Mother, what you think is funny is really not that funny.”

“It is in my head. Besides, your dad thinks I’m funny. Well, at least he does when I tell him I am.” 

I like my writing style. I call it storytelling with artistic license. My children call it gossiping. I call myself an author. My children call me granny redneck. Is this what happens when you get older? You just can’t win.

Because of the relationship that my Sweet Al and I have with our children, relying on them to do things like being our personal assistant comes at a cost. We ask for help. They tell us what they think we want or need. 

I guess things could be worse. We could be left to make our own decisions. Poor Sweet Al. I can’t even imagine how much trouble I would get him into if left to my own devices. 

All things considered, maybe the lesson is one about balance, not about whose voice is heard. 

Besides, when it comes to my Sweet Al and his dog, he clearly hears me, spoken or not. And I am certain our children know how and what we are going to say before we utter even a single word. 

Our children respect us. And that alone gives value to our voices. We may not always make sense, but we are surrounded by those who give a nod in our direction and affirm us.

No matter if we come across senile or feeble, or make jokes that aren’t as funny as we think they are, we still have our voice. More importantly, our children are here to care for us, protect us. Yes, sometimes they scrutinize our decisions. But perhaps they are just saving us from ourselves. 

Final brushstroke: Love me, love my voice. You can even cringe when I say something out of place, but just don’t judge. I laugh at me; you should, too. And as long as the newspaper runs my articles, I still get to speak what I think, spoken or not.

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Artist’s Lane: The sum is greater than its parts http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-the-sum-is-greater-than-its-parts/ Tue, 02 Jun 2020 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=204585 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

I love feel-good movies. You know the ones, where the underdog becomes the hero and the unexpected happens. Everything in me jumps for joy when I witness an average “Joe” become a champion while competing in the race he wasn’t supposed to win. 

Have you looked around recently? Feel-good moments are happening right here in Pagosa. Good people doing for others, just because they can, sometimes beyond their own means. 

There is a display of goodness in our little town of ordinary citizens — those who rise to meet the day by seeing a need and filling it. I hear story after story about people picking up food and delivering it to the shut-in and the elderly. Then there are those who go the extra mile under less-than-favorable conditions, just to help or be there for someone in need. 

My Sweet Al and I have been firsthand recipients of the generosity, time and capability of others. We are blessed to be a part of the Pagosa family. Thank you.

I have always been grateful for the community in which we live. This was affirmed while watching the movie “Spare Parts.” It is the true-to-life story about four high school students who form a robotics club under the leadership of their school’s newest teacher, Fredi (George Lopez).

The students, challenged by perception and means, would have to beat the odds to find out who they are and what they are able to accomplish, doing so by becoming like the spare parts that would eventually become their masterpiece. 

As we watched this story unfold, we applauded the determination of the underdogs as they discovered and used their God-given talents. Seeing others reach beyond themselves, reminded us what we are capable of doing ourselves. 

Four young men, carrying the weight of life on their shoulders, found a way to stand tall and proud to the dismay of those around them. Only one teacher, who carried baggage of his own, would provide the support the teens needed, even if it was nothing more than to believe in them. 

With little more than a dream in their heads, the youth set out to create a robot that would compete against high schools and colleges nationwide. Their budget was a mere fraction of what the other schools had, forcing the team to scavenge for old cars, plumbing and electrical parts.

Each of the four boys had something that the others were missing. One had the tenacity and drive that kept everyone focused. Another had the skills and creativity that made the impossible possible. Still another had the physical strength to carry the team. Lastly and most importantly, one of the boys had PlayStation skills that would take the project to the top. 

The complexities of life can stall even the greatest of efforts. But when just one person exercises a unique talent that others are void of, the effort becomes a stop-gap measure that provides needed momentum. 

This movie, as well as what I see around me in our community, provides an important lesson about how beautiful something can become when a missing part is substituted with a spare. This gives true meaning to the saying, “the sum is greater than the value of its parts.” 

On a personal level, I have been able to experience the sum being greater than its parts through the introduction of a new friend. I met “the good doctor” after reading an article in The SUN newspaper about curly horses. As a writer, I needed to understand the life of a rancher, which is beyond anything I know. Through collaboration, I am able to create a protagonist by walking in the footsteps of someone who knows that character better than I do. 

As a result of our efforts, we will be able to bring awareness to the Sulphur horses which are near extinction. My next novel is about a frontier family and the effort of one young man to save the Spanish equine with its unique genetic traits. 

Final brushstroke: It doesn’t matter if we need to run an errand, find means to care for ourselves or if working on our favorite project. We live in a community that is as diverse as the landscape around us. Let’s continue the beauty of the day by being the spare part that others may need. It only takes a minute or costs a few dollars to complete where others have need. 

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Artist’s Lane: Color the day with laughter http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-color-the-day-with-laughter/ Wed, 27 May 2020 11:00:06 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=203902 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

It seems as if everything around me has become too serious. My usual colorful spring days seem pale in comparison to what I expect of the season. I tend to live my life in full color. But even as the trees bud, I find I am missing something. Perhaps it’s the absence of laughter. 

In my world, laughter is like a palette overflowing with colorful paint. It doesn’t matter if it is held up against a winter gray sky or spring crisp blue, laughter has a way of adding a rainbow of dimension to any moment. 

Maybe I am contributing to where I see myself. I have noticed that my articles have also become too serious. So, at the tail end of our two-month isolation, I am ready for my faded legs to see the light of day, and to give a hearty howl.

Our electrician came by to work on a cut power line. Just as I knew to do, I stood 6 feet away and watched him work. I couldn’t help but laugh about the predicament we were in. There he was, down in a hole the size of a swimming pool, dug out by our son while trying to fix a 2-inch water valve. 

I told our son to fix something else, just so I could have another laugh. Besides, paying a repair man for a needless fix has to be more entertaining than being abused by public broadcasting. 

Now, my newest friend, a 77-year-old exercise instructor, shows up with a press of a button on the remote. She trots around the television screen and yells at those on my side of the camera about frozen shoulders and swollen joints. Now that’s funny. How did she know? 

She is constantly asking me if I feel great and feel the burn. I tell her, “No.” Thankfully, she promises that there will be no floor work today. I wonder if it’s because she knows that I will not be able to get back up once I’m down. 

My Sweet Al and I have graduated from Hallmark movies. Either that or we are waiting for all the Christmas shows to begin in July. 

Binge-watching a series has become our new date-night out. I’m on season five of “Poldark” on PBS. Sweet Al is learning all of the tricks of the trade from Eustice on INSP’s “Mountain Men.” We are getting to know these characters so well, I almost feel like we need to have them over for dinner. 

I finally figured out the meaning of stir-crazy. While counting out all the pills and vitamins that my Sweet Al and I are taking every morning, I wonder what would happen if we mixed them all up. 

Like all of our children, our son looks after us. I asked him what he was thinking the other day. He said, “Just living the dream.” He paused, then said, “Did you want me to tell you how painful it is taking care of you?”

Turns out that we are finally getting sweet revenge after all of those midnight telephone calls from when he was a teenager. Now that’s funny. 

I heard something that truly applies to today. “If you want to get to the place that you aren’t, you have to leave the place that you are.”

I never thought we shouldn’t take life seriously. I guess the lesson for me is to keep myself from getting stuck there. And if that means laughing will give me freedom from the day, then listen for my voice all the way out on the Blanco. 

Final brushstroke: There is too much going on not to add a bit of color to a dull day by laughing. Whether we audibly grunt as we walk up a flight of stairs, or have a humorous appreciation for the reality of TV personalities who haven’t seen a bottle of dye or a coiffure in months. Just laugh. 

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Artist’s Lane: Helping others find their calling http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-helping-others-find-their-calling/ Tue, 19 May 2020 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=203598 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

A friend called and asked my advice. She wanted to know how to help her 24-year-old son, a creative soul who is exceptionally talented. Of course, I felt obliged to share with her what I knew. 

From one mother to another, I could relate to the ask for help on the other end of the line. 

I told my son about that conversation I had. Maybe I had a new calling. Since he was the recipient of years of my great wisdom, I asked him what he thought. 

His response, “I think your friend called the wrong number.”

I remember a time when I sought council when I didn’t know what to do with my children. I’m sure I even received some great advice, although it came at a time when I was developing my selective hearing skills. 

I was too much in my own head back then. As a creative type myself, I was busy trying to write my own narrative to hear from anyone else. 

I know all about the artist temperament. You can push, but they won’t move until they are inspired. Until then, you’re just provoking them. Push too hard and the artist will dig their heels in deep. 

I told my friend, “I made a lot of mistakes. Don’t make the same ones.”

When our children are young, we want to help and guide them. When they grow up, we have to let go. If we don’t get out of their way, they will never know which direction they are designed to go. 

There is nothing wrong with standing in the wings to help, just don’t clip them. 

While my Sweet Al and I were having our Bible study this morning, we discussed a passage of scripture where Moses placed his hands upon Joshua. He was passing on his calling, an anointing, a spirit of wisdom.

Joshua received his calling through an anointing that provided him direction. He could have chosen not to lead the Jewish people into the promised land, but then they would have not received their inheritance, the land given to them.

No matter the label we wear, we have the ability to help others find what can be theirs, by helping them to listen for their own calling. 

Why do we push and pull those around us to go in the direction we think they need to go? All we can do is share a vision. It is up to them to take the journey. 

I am reminded of a story that a dear friend shared with me long ago. Each year, her family traveled to a specific camping retreat in New Mexico. They would play games and swim in the nearby river. They were creating memories. 

Eventually, her children grew up, married and started their own families. It wasn’t long before the next generation was camping at the same retreat, playing in the same field and swimming in the same river. No one had to tell them where to go or what to do. They were provided with a vision, then made their own decisions to go where their hearts took them. 

Passing on knowledge comes as a great responsibility. The true test of our effectiveness is not in dictating where a person should go, but that they can receive the vision to get themselves there. 

Final brushstroke: As mothers, we think we know what our children need, but we don’t. I am reminded how Saul offered to give David his armor before going into battle. Never mind that it didn’t fit. David had enough understanding of his vision to know he didn’t need it. 

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Artist’s Lane: ‘Don’t force the river’ http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-dont-force-the-river/ Tue, 12 May 2020 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202913 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

After a virtual leadership meeting, one of the board members said, “Don’t force the river.”

I hadn’t heard that term before. Apparently, it’s an old country saying. 

Our weekly writers’ group has been very successful in building an online network. We now include writers from six different states.

How far do we want to extend our boundaries? Do we want to continue meeting outside of our customary four walls post-virus? 

A guest speaker from New Mexico gave a presentation recently. We have others scheduled, including agents and publishers. Virtual technology has given us the ability to reach outside of Pagosa in a way we didn’t know we could.

As we come out on the other side after being shut in, I asked, “What will things look like? Have we changed? Did any of us grow from the time spent in isolation?”

For me, I almost feel like I have been placed in a box that has reduced in size. Not because I have been sequestered away from the world, but because I am experiencing my passion in life on a much larger stage.

When all is said and done, do we go back to the same familiar classroom setting? What about those who opened us up to things we didn’t know we were missing. We have welcomed people in from home offices around the country.

I have enjoyed experiencing dialogue from a wider body of writers. The virtual world has allowed me to meet and learn from industry professionals and fellow laptop authors alike. 

We all know the phrase, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” So, does that mean that when we come out of our houses, that we go back to how it used to be? 

My writers’ group is asking this same question. Do we continue to use technology to expand our opportunities? There are some who want to continue building on where we are today. For others, the thought scares them. We have had our fun, but it is time to go back to where we were, where we are most comfortable. 

I asked the writer who made the comment, “What is our next step?”

“Why do we need to take the next step? Why can’t we grow organically? Let the needs of the group move us forward.”

In my younger days, we used a lot of Miracle Gro to get the job done. Whether it was to force grow the biggest tomatoes or encourage a late bloomer. As far as that goes, whether we were trying to increase church membership or find a way to bring community together, we followed the same process. Make some noise, then watch things grow. Isn’t that what it means to be organic?

I was compelled to look up the definition. It said as elements of an organized whole — gradual or natural development.

Life is unfolding before my eyes. What I didn’t know yesterday, I am clinging to, with an anticipation for what I may learn today. But had I become someone who would row a boat against any tide, just to feel like I was moving? Yes. 

Had I become restless with allowing a current to move me to where it wants me? To let that happen sounds like drifting aimlessly. But it’s not. There is no reason that we can’t adjust our focus as we move in a natural direction. There is also nothing wrong with pulling out the paddle to push ourselves beyond where we are. 

So, what happens next? Will we see people running from their houses to get back to where they were just a few short months ago? I imagine that there will be those who never look back, while others find a comfortable balance that they didn’t know they needed. 

Final brushstroke: My writers’ group has evolved, although we still don’t know where tomorrow will take us. But that is OK. There are conversations we are having, that we never knew we would. I think about families who are sitting down for dinner again or going for walks off the beaten path together. Tomorrow doesn’t have to create confusion, it just needs to remind us that potential develops, if we take time to let it grow. 

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Artist’s Lane: Avoiding being ‘whale done’ http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-avoiding-being-whale-done/ Tue, 05 May 2020 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202580 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

Isolated — and still getting into trouble. An island unto myself, I am staying at home, social distancing from the world, outside of the occasional virtual meeting. Yet one thing remains: I haven’t learned how to keep my mouth shut.

“There’s a reason you’re you.” That was a line I heard from a movie that reminded me that its OK to be me. Thankfully!

I told our son about a recent video call. “I think I have become an Isaiah-with-a-message. Or, maybe I am just running through a virtual sea with my buttocks showing.”

Our son said, “It’s probably the latter.”

I heard myself tell the Tuesday night prayer group, “I’m sorry.” Then, after a brief moment, I spoke again and said, “No, I’m not sorry, and I’ll take it to my grave.“

I’m not usually so emphatic although I felt I needed to take a stand when asked a question recently. It was something that came from our group leader, a Messianic Jew who shared that congregations are “updating” the Torah. She asked us all what we thought. 

Without skipping a beat, I voiced my opinion and managed to come unglued during the delivery. “No,” was the operative response — something I should have left alone until I knew more.

I didn’t wait to understand the question that I was being asked. Nor did I consider the word selection used. My only comment, as I expressed to those on the video call, “Don’t touch the Word of God.” 

In a world of change, there are some things that don’t — God and His Word.

Something else that doesn’t change: the line I walk. I had, however, assumed that someone was questioning if the first five books of the Hebrew Bible should be changed. I would later come to know that wasn’t what was being asked.

When did God appoint me the keeper of the universe? He didn’t. We are told in Deuteronomy not to add or take away from the things that we are commanded to do. 

In this case, I interpreted a question, then rushed to share my view. 

I realized this when someone told me, “You sure are hard on everyone.”

Maybe I am. I’m hard on myself, too. Time is short and the world is getting darker and darker. First, unrest. Now, fear. In the mix, believers are falling away. We shouldn’t act surprised. The New Testament tells us over and over that there will be those who depart from their faith. 

Could it be triggered by someone wanting to change something of historic record from over 2,000 years ago? Maybe it is triggered by me not listening, assuming someone is jumping off the written page without clarifying intent. 

Jonah did the same thing. Well, he didn’t jump off the page, but he was thrown off a boat. He was told to go to a people who were waiting and willing to hear from him. His response? To run in the opposite direction as fast as he could. He missed the most important part of the message. People were “waiting” and “willing.” They weren’t equipping themselves for battle. 

Had I become a Jonah, positioning myself for a fight instead of opening a door for a meaningful discussion? Maybe I had set someone up for a fight, not taking a minute to see an opportunity for exchange. 

I stand by my convictions, but perhaps I need to wait until they are breached before rushing into the water like a battleship. 

Final brushstroke: As Christians, we are called to be messengers. By action, that means to be absent of judgment, to deliver a message in a way that can be received. How important it is to conduct ourselves with the same mercy and grace afforded to us. Otherwise, like Jonah, we will find ourselves in deep water or worst yet, “whale done.”

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Artist’s Lane: The ingeniousness of isolation http://www.pagosasun.com/artists-lane-the-ingeniousness-of-isolation/ Sun, 26 Apr 2020 11:00:38 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202015 By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

Have you noticed how determined people are becoming as they spend time in isolation? We are a social people who need to be around others; it’s how we flourish. Absent of that, people are reaching within to find new ways of expressing themselves, new outlets for community. 

During a video exercise class, the instructor said, “Don’t look at your body as separate individual pieces. Stretch, relax and feel your whole body.”

It’s amazing how one little phrase about exercising the body can make one realize how connected we are, even if alone at home. 

My Sweet Al and I honor the law of the land. One of our daughters picks up our prescriptions, food and necessities as we stay attached to the Blanco. Even though we stay isolated from the public, we still feel very much a part of it.

Because of social distancing, my Sweet Al and I are experiencing many firsts. Our granddaughter and husband planned to go to Japan to celebrate his birthday. With travel canceled, they decided to have a Japanese-themed party from home instead. It was complete with handmade cherry blossom trees. 

Friends and family were invited to an online soiree. I wore a kimono and my Sweet Al sported a velvet noragi and a felt bowler. 

We are advised to wear a mask if we need to go out in public. A member of my video conference writing group gave a demonstration of how she uses everyday items to create a protective respirator.

An artist friend started an online exchange. Those accepting the challenge posted a different picture or painting each day. It has stirred the artistic bent in me to begin painting in watercolors again.

A writer friend emailed me about a book of miracles that she is compiling. I submitted my entry, a miracle story that came straight from the heart and home. The experience challenged me to be steadfast in God’s faithfulness, even during times of uncertainty. 

There are hidden talents that would have never been known had it not been for this time of isolation. I’m amazed at the ingeniousness of people. It seems that staying at home has forced many to come up with inventive ways to get their message out. 

Keith, our “low-tech” son-in-law, is a history teacher. We thoroughly enjoyed watching him become more and more comfortable in a digital classroom. We learned all about the Civil War with him dressed in soldier attire, using a cavalry sword as a pointer. 

Like something on PBS, we sat mesmerized as we watched our own mad professor roll out his lesson plans. He was animated with background music for effect. He became a German soldier, a nutty inventor and even Wild Bill Hickok.

Pagosa even has its own online characters. I recently watched a video of the elementary school principal as he played his guitar and sang a Garth Brooks song. He changed the words of “Friends in Low Places” to make students laugh. 

It is evident how much school officials and teachers love their students and their jobs by the amount of effort and creativity they put in to their work.

By the way, my Sweet Al has been using his down time to brush up on his sleight-of-hand magic. He keeps coming up with new ways to use an old T-shirt. I throw it away, then it reappears in his closet.

Final brushstroke: Whatever occupies you, do it with all the color, texture and purpose within you. Be it in video, online or in a text or email. How many times in life do we get the chance to stop time to find the creative warrior that lies inside. And if it all becomes too much, just get a ball of yarn and learn to knit. 

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