Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Eerie Feeling...

There is an palpable eeriness that I feel as I move around and through my life right now. An unsettled feeling. The gas shortage continues with no end in sight. The financial markets are crashing and burning still. Again. Banks are gobbling up other banks and financial institutes. The presidential campaign is mind-boggling in its inanity.

Like most areas of the country, this part of North Carolina is suffering with a glut of houses on the market to be sold. One family of neighbors recently bought a house - before selling the house they currently live in. Now they own two houses, and it doesn't look likely that either will be sold anytime soon. It's eerie.

A townhouse complex being built nearby. Progress is slow, but steady.

Like most areas of the country, here in North Carolina there is the baffling continuation of the building of houses and shopping plazas. One friend recently explained it well when she said that the housing and building market is a huge machine that is hard to get up and running and at least as hard to slow down and bring to a stop. Kinda like a freight train rolling downhill with a brake failure is how I understood her example.

The neighborhood pool is covered and the pool parties are over.

The extravagant shopping sprees are over too. A woman I know, someone who buys $1500 handbags every quarter (yes, every three months), who thinks nothing of buying dresses in the same price range, who wears shoes that cost anywhere from $200 - $700, she told me that she got a $500 gift card from a local store. A unsolicited and unearned $500 gift card issued from the store to entice her to come shopping! She said she gets two or three emails a day from a certain salesperson from a store she frequents letting her know that there are great deals to be had. She said she is simply not shopping these days. At all. I don't know which part of her story shocked me most: that she received a gift card in that amount from a clothing store, that she gets that many emails from a single saleswoman, or that she isn't shopping these days.

I, one of the least likely full-price-paying shoppers on the East Coast, got a call from Nordstroms last week informing me that, because I had bought a Donna Karan item in the past, they wanted to let me know that there was a sale of DKNY clothing. Did I want her to set anything aside for me? Are you talking to me, GailNHB? The only DKNY items I can imagine ever having bought from Nordstroms would have been underwear or tights on sale for less than $8. "No, Crystal, there is no need to set anything aside for me" I said. "But if I am in the store and need help, I will look for you." What I didn't say is that I won't be in there anytime soon.

The excessive, wasteful, greedy lifestyle that has come to define much of American consumerism is over, folks. At least for now. These times they are a'changing. And it feels eerie.

Out for a walk this morning with K and D. We walked past this woman and her dog as she talked with the gentleman in the van twice during our round-trip journey. They were talking about the Sarah Palin - Katie Couric interview. I liked what I heard.

In the midst of the eeriness, the quiet in the midst of the storm raging around us, there is peace, there is beauty, there is neighborly contact and conversation. As a threesome, we walked and talked and opined on politics and smoothies and books and travel and tea and photography and the turmoil in the world. We gave thanks that all is well for us at the moment and that we have access to peace that passes understanding and joy that is unspeakable and full of hope. We reveled in the freedom of homeschooling and marveled at the beauty of our neighborhood.

And with my tiny but rather talented camera, I recorded some of that beauty. I was reminded that the flowers and the ants and birds and dogs like Maya, in all of their splendor and simplicity and quiet, fear nothing. They live and breathe and eat and drink and make messes and reflect the beauty that emanates from their core. Their colors, their brilliance, their resilience - it comes from within them and beyond them.

Yes, there is an eerie feeling around.
But there is also a joyful feeling. A hopeful feeling.
A deepening of roots and opening of buds.
A widening of smiles and warming of hearts.
And all of it comes from beyond us.

Perhaps the eeriest thing about all this eeriness is that it hasn't seeped into my soul yet.
Instead, it has caused me to give thanks,
to remember, declare, and remind all who will listen that
hope floats, peace is possible, and love never fails.

Again the words of Jesus resonate.

If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds.

Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion - do you think that makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like that. The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers - most of which are never even seen - don't you think He'll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Taken from Matthew 6, The Message.

The challenge is and always has been to believe and live out the truth of those words when the hard times come - and they do come.
They have come.
It's eerie.


Lori said...

Well said Gayle, I was in the airport going to Virginia over the weekend and it was empty going and coming. Now that's eerie.

Lisa said...

Yes. Yes. Indeed.

A time to give thanks. And to live out our faith. To be compassion in action to a world full of hurt, fear, and confusion.

May it be so.

jmgb said...

amen, amen, amen.

may this season be a reality check for all of this...

kat said...

a lovely post and a much needed reminder