In a meditation this past week, the writer Nadia Bolz-Weber used the image of a circuit panel to describe her experience of the pandemic. I remember the circuit panel in the basement of the house where I grew up. The house, built in the post-war years, had a very rudimentary electrical system and the circuit panel had 15 amp glass fuses. There were one or two electrical plugs in each room. By the nineteen seventies, our need for electricity had begun to outstrip what the circuit panel could handle and there were times when it seems we were continually screwing in new fuses. There seemed to be a limit, and when you plugged in the toaster or a hair dryer – pop – the fuse blew and we were plunged into darkness. We were very careful before overloading the circuits.
These days, I feel a little bit like that old circuit board. How much more can be added to what we take before we sizzle and pop and burn out? We were dealing with the pandemic. Then we learned of the children’s graves at the Residential School. Then we had a heat dome (I had never heard of that before!). Then came forest fires, evacuation alerts and orders and smoky skies and difficulty breathing. Once of twice I have joined the Old Testament whiner Job in a lament: “Okay God, how much more can I take?” How much before my circuits burn out?
Then I am drawn back to one of the earliest pieces of scripture I can remember: Psalm 23. I see Sunday School days when we had to memorize this psalm and had to recite it to Mr. Watson, the church treasurer. (I have no idea what being church treasurer had to do with the one to approve our memory work, but I do remember standing in front of him and how stern he seemed as I recited the psalm.)
I stammered out: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. I am so glad that I had to memorize these words because I have found them on my lips a number of times in life when my circuits are getting close to the melting point. Green pastures and still waters seem so opposite to these past few months, but clincher of the verse is the fact that God restores our souls.
The apocalypse might be breaking out around me (I thought apocalypse some nights when I looked at the setting sun or saw the pictures of Lytton.) and God is there. God is just there. No miracles. No waving of the magic wand. Just the presence of the divine. When we are ready to burn out, God is there. The words of the song that my kids learned at camp come to mind:
Like a rock, like a rock, God is under our feet.
Like the starry night sky God is over our head.
Like the sun on the horizon God is ever before.
Like the river runs to ocean,
our home is in God evermore.
When our home was placed under evacuation alert, I wondered what it would like to lose all those material possessions and then I thought what does it matter because I have God. My earthly home might be in Kamloops, but my real residing place is in God’s love and care, my home is in God evermore.
As I deal with the ongoing pandemic and all the variants that have arisen and might arise in the coming days, I find peace that my soul rests in God. Yea though I walk through the deepest valley, thou art with me.
Like a Rock (click on this to hear BC songwriter Linnea Good sing this)
Image Credit: Kent Simmonds