“So we do not lose heart …. as we look not to things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16a, 18
Late winter, I read the delightful book, “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating” by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. It chronicled the year of a woman who was incapacitated by a neurological disease that left her bedridden. She writes, “There is a certain depth of illness that is piercing in it’s isolation, the only rule of existence is uncertainty, and the only movement is the passage of time.” One of her caretakers decided to bring a little of the outside world into her room by placing a wild snail in a pot of violets on her nightstand. As she recovered, Elisabeth observed the life of this ordinary snail. Her writing extolled the virtues of this simple creature, including the amazing properties of its slime. That is right, I used the word amazing and slime in the same sentence! By the end of the book, I was half tempted to get a terrarium and create a habitat for a wild snail to live in for a year. This often happens to me when I read books that delight me (because of reading the book, “Running with Sherman”, I have seriously considered running with goats).
It is summer now, and I have planted a huge pot of assorted basil, dreaming of Caprese salad, pesto and margherita pizza. To successfully grow basil, one must trim the basil plant at certain spots on the stalk to help the plant bush out. A few weeks ago, I had my first harvest, pruning my plant carefully, anticipating even more abundant future harvests. The following week, I noticed that my basil plant had a few leaves with holes. I didn’t think too much of it, still having pesto dreams swirling through my head. A few days later, I saw that my beautiful bouquet of basil was full of holes from some creature trying to destroy my harvest dreams. After a little internet research and trails of not-so-amazing slime, I discovered that a slug, a cousin to the snail, had been gorging on my basil at night while I was sleeping. No longer enamored with any gastropods, I quickly found a way to protect my basil and remove slime trails.
I find this dichotomy of perspective in all areas of my life; from the enchantment I have watching the birds at my bird feeder to the clamor of noises I make to get the birds off my blackberry bushes. I even find that with people I love, we can have different perspective on the exact same situation. A few months ago, I was peering out over my daughter-in-law’s backyard and saw a roly-poly groundhog ambling through her yard. I immediately grabbed Joel to not only show him the groundhog but to help him give the groundhog a deserving name like George. Rachel immediately piped up saying, “Joel, tell Mimi we don’t name the woodchucks; they destroy our gardens.” Even her different name, woodchuck, for this seemingly innocent furry animal seemed harsher than my groundhog that remained nameless.
Perspective is defined as a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something. Often, this is based on our personal history, faith, and culture. It also shapes our responses to situations, sometimes causing us to react in fear, anger, or joy. But no matter what our perspective is, God sees all and has a different perspective, and according to his Word it will work out for our good. It is so easy to read scriptures and believe these principles in the abstract, but so much harder to apply them when life is hard!
Terry’s unfortunate accident has caused some ripple effects in our life. We’ve had to cancel some plans due to loss of vacation and finances, including our 25th anniversary trip. I will be honest; this has been a little hard to swallow. It was something that I had spent a lot of time planning and researching. I am profoundly grateful for the blessings God has given us during this time, including us being able to meet all our financial obligations despite loss of income. Yet, when I think of our upcoming anniversary, I do not see the amazing properties of slime I discovered in reading. Instead, I see the trail of slime near my basil plant ruining my future pesto.
I had to throw out some basil before my slug problem was completely solved. This is a real loss, just like my anniversary plans. There is nothing I can do to rectify this situation, except plan for next year. But I don’t have to live with the slug invasion, and I don’t have to live in a place of loss. I have spent the last three weeks taking daily walks with my husband, talking, and dreaming about our future. I will have six more weeks of these daily walks. I am choosing to look at this time as a blessing, trying to see things from God’s perspective. It’s not always easy, but what we may see as a woodchuck, He might see as a groundhog that needs a name!