Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." 
from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians

Surely the world has seen it's share of chaos and calamity, probably in much stronger doses, but right now there are firestorms of uprisings and violence erupting throughout the world, and to some extent, right here in the United States.  Now it is true, in one sense or another, the days have always been evil, but God has has never failed to make a way in the wilderness for those who love and follow Him. He asks us to listen to Him, to be obedient and to be prudent.  Now, perhaps more than ever in the last fifty or so years, we need to stick close to Him and to do what He tells us.

The world has just seen another horrible natural disaster, this time in New Zealand.  Today, Somali pirates killed four Americans who had been traveling around the world, passing out bibles.  A sweet lady at our church who used to do the scripture readings so beautifully, took sick a year ago with ALS, and the disease progressed so rapidly that yesterday she was given her last rites.  The upheavals in the Middle East are putting millions of people in harm's way, and threaten to destabilize the whole world.  Inevitably, the price of oil is rising sharply, and that means everything from gasoline to food to all other store goods will probably ascend in proportion.  The only things looking to tank are housing prices, employment and the stock market.

As to earthquakes and sickness, all we can do is trust God, and pray, but these are no small things! We could move mountains this way! God has put mysteries and challenges into His creation and it is our job to figure them out for the service of His creation. We must continue to put our minds and efforts into building safer structures in safer places, and work towards finding cures for disease, and better management of symptoms. Much has been accomplished in the engineering and medical fields (just think of the suffering before anesthesia!) and much more is needed.  I think we must realistically, however, look to the state of our own souls, and pray for the eternal souls of others every day, as indeed, we must all leave this world someday. Instead of feverishly trying to avoid that knowledge, we need to accept it, redeem the time we have and pray that we will run a good race, and finish strong! Accordingly, I appreciate the Catholic understanding of the need to pray for a happy and prepared death, for ourselves and others.

In the meantime, as God gives me another day and another chance to serve Him and others, I look at these world events through the prism of my vocation - that of wife, mother, soon to be grandmother, and all around home guardian.  What should the prudent keeper at home do in such times? Right away, bible verses come to mind and the Word of God gives me guidance.

Proverbs 22:3 says, "A prudent [man] foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." This tells me to pay attention. Observe and understand the times we live in, and be proactive. Now this can be something as simple as removing yourself from endless arguments over doctrine or beliefs, or distancing yourself from people who are very negative or angry.

You might not think this would be applicable, but I like to make a habit of always having a back-up item in store for use when the first thing is gone. For example, even though I go grocery shopping once a week and I have a market just up the street, I will buy at least two gallons of milk at a time, or extra bread for the freezer, etc., because I never want to run out of a staple (think toilet paper!), at any inopportune time, like late in the evening when it's not such a good idea to be going to and from the car in a dark parking lot.

Truth is, however, I never want to run out of something like milk at all, and one time I learned the hard way.

One school morning a few years ago, my husband had already gone to work, and I woke up to no milk for breakfast. The five children ranged in age from about 2 to 12. What I should have done was just made toast and juice, and of course, any normal person would probably have done that. But no, I jumped in the car and ran to pick up milk. Well, I was so hurried and harried that I looked one way and then another, or so I thought, and proceeded to go out into the intersection, hitting the side of a car that I just plain never saw coming.

Thank goodness no one was hurt, but my insurance had to pay a significant amount to fix the other person's car. That whole mishap could have been avoided if I had taken the time to plan better, and failing that, just make do with what I had.

Another verse that helps to guide me is in 1st. Thessalonians, where Paul tells us: "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing."

Ah, wouldn't it be a better world if more of us studied to be quiet?  This is one of the great joys I find in staying home, that I can enjoy the peace and tranquility of my own little sphere while I go about my duties and my times of rest and refreshment. There are traffic snarls and crowded stores, confrontations with coworkers and anxiety over bosses out there beyond my doorstep, but I am safe from all of them.  And I am available to keep order and stability here for all of us, and to add some beauty and comfort, too.  I take the word "quiet", as it is used here, to mean being literally silent or at least reserved in speech, and also to mean  minding my own business, which indeed Paul adds in the above verse.  

Regarding the first meaning, there is so much to be gained when you don't talk.  You have time to listen, and time to think.  As the writer in Proverbs warns, "Where words are many, sin is not absent." If you have ever blurted out something that you wish you could take back, then you know how precious being silent is.  If you have been prone to this sort of thing, as have I, and finally with God's help, begin to heed the Holy Spirit's nudging you to hold back, you know the utter joy and sheer blessedness of making the decision not to blurt! It is a gift to yourself (to say nothing of the other party) that continues to pay dividends and gives you joy and relief each time you remember how you almost said it, but then refrained.

Regarding the command to mind our own business, well, I know that the government leaders felt they had good reasons to involve themselves in the affairs of other nations, working to promote one leader in one country, while working to undermine the leader in another, but I think that the error of this is proving itself very obviously now.  Perhaps if we had stayed home, and worked on producing energy and goods in this country,  letting others sort out their own existence, we would have been a lot better off, and so would they.  Of course there is a time to step in, but I think we have way overdone it.

It is the same in our own lives.  I truly believe that the world is better served by my organizing my pantry and freezers than for me to be out in the street, "community organizing" while shrieking incendiary remarks into a microphone. By keeping my food storage organized and inventoried, I can make the most of my budget, which helps our family take care of itself without having to burden anyone else.  When you are not a burden to others, God is glorified in your behavior, and you are indirectly benefiting your fellow man.  It's like Paul said, "That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing."  Now, "them that are without" refers to those outside in the world, outside of the community of faith. They see your good works, which are the fruits of your faith, and they glorify your Father who is in heaven, as it says elsewhere in Scripture.  When we quietly, without trying to draw attention or glory to ourselves, go about our business, working to take care of our own needs, and allowing others to have their own "space", we are sowing the seeds for great peace, both without and within.

Here is one more very politically incorrect point I wish to make.  Again Paul says it so well, in 1st. Corinthians 10:23: "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."  That means that something might be correct or good, according to the letter of the law, but it might not be the most helpful, or best thing to do in certain situations. I am thinking here about women and girls, and the horrendous situations they insert themselves into, expecting no harm to come to them because they have a right to be anywhere at anytime without fear of physical harm.  Yes, the should be safe from harm. What a word "should" is.

They are correct in maintaining that the responsibility for others to restrain themselves from doing them harm resides with those others, and not with the women themselves.  It is also right that we should be able to leave our cars and doors unlocked all night or when we are away, and not have to worry about people going in and robbing and ransacking our property.  But do we leave everything open and unguarded?  Most likely not.  Why is that?  It's our property, and the law recognizes our right to own and hold private property, does it not?

Ah, but we do lock up, keep our valuables out of sight when possible, insure them and even install alarm systems to keep our homes and cars secure, because we are wise to acknowledge the reality of a fallen world and the thieves and vandals who inhabit it.  We are not going to gamble on losing these things.

We might be outraged that it is necessary, but is it not wise, then for women and girls to keep themselves out of less than desirable environments, or maybe not be out alone at night, and take care not to invite others to dwell on their sexuality by dressing so provocatively? I mean, say you saved up and bought some gold coins or precious gems. Would you deliberately put them on display in the front window of your house, or keep them on the front porch, unguarded?

As women entered the workforce, crimes against them rose precipitously.  I do not advocate burkhas and a prohibition of women being seen in public - I just long for us to use some common sense. And to be realistic about our physical limitations (most women cannot beat the snot out of men as the heroines do on TV), and for prudence. Especially now, when it seems that people are becoming positively unglued and lawlessness is in the streets. 

My hope and prayer is that the mommies could stay home with their babies, that women and children would have strong, loving men to protect them and provide for them, and that as individuals and nations, we could be peacemakers instead of mobs of rude and violent people.

For those who share these beliefs, but are feeling distressed and frightened of events unfolding in the world, I would suggest taking some practical steps to position ourselves in the most advantageous circumstances, as we are able, and leave the rest to God.  Along with the foregoing examples, there are countless other things we can do.

Start going through your house, keeping the most precious and/or useful things, and clearing out the rest.  When you have order, you take a lot of stress out of your life. When you have order, you can actually keep your home clean and healthy, which improves quality of life for all who dwell there. Stock up on food, and other necessities. Shop for cotton clothing at thrift stores and start laying in some new cotton underwear and socks, as this commodity is rising fast. Learn how to cook, bake, mend, do small repairs, use things around the house to fix up other things - for example, years ago our dryer quit on us.  My husband remembered seeing this funny little gasket thing on the ground in the grocery store parking lot, that he realized might work in our machine, so he rode his bike up there, and sure enough it was still there.   He was able to use it and we had the use of that dryer for years to come.

Build relationships with your neighbors. Talk about how you could help each other out in the event of a natural disaster. Start helping each other out, now. If your neighbor is away at work when the garbage man comes, and the empty can is sitting out in the road, go get it and bring it back up by his house.

Go to the library and get some books out on hobbies you would like to pursue, or skills you would like to acquire.  Little by little, acquire what tools you can in order to be able to build, repair or maintain your home and property.  Tools and maintenance of  your home are sensible, terrific things to invest in. I might not be able to buy a $1,600 gold coin, but I can shop around and spend 160 dollars on food and tools or upgrades to my home environment that will add immense benefit to our lives.

Little by little, build a library of your own with your how-to books, your spiritual books and books to read to your children and grandchildren.  And do take time to read to a child, whenever you can.  Have a quiet cup of coffee or tea with your husband. Have lunch with a friend.  Go to the dollar store, and without overdoing it, buy some simple holiday and seasonal decorations to brighten your home with. Plant herbs in flower pots, and tomatoes, too, if you don't want to, or cannot have a larger garden in the ground. Savor these simple activities that make life rich and rewarding.

As the weather gets warmer, try hanging out a load of wash to dry in the fresh air and sunshine.  Pick up an iron and start pressing some clothes now and then. When you have a minute, from time to time, take some window cleaner and make a mirror or a window sparkle and shine. You do not have to do everything, and certainly not  all at one time.  But the things I am suggesting help you to achieve dominion over the little piece of earth and time that God has lent to you.  This is your time to shine for God, and to create good habits and patterns that will bless those around you and even your descendants after you!

God charged Adam and Eve with taking dominion over Creation and I believe He still desires us to do that. Under His guidance, we take some control over how we live our lives, and that tends towards peace for us. So let us redeem the time, walk circumspectly, not foolishly, but with wisdom, for though the days may indeed be evil, we must do the work He has given us to do while it is yet day, for night time cometh, when no man can work. Our days may see some trouble, yet we are children of the kingdom and it is a kingdom of LIGHT!


  1. Anonymous10:45 PM

    Good to read your suggestions & musings, Emmarinda. I also took a look at a couple previous posts (Jamesetta's article in your newspaper, & the list of recipes from the Rumford cookbook) & enjoyed them too. And I'm sorry as I can be about how nerve-wracked you feel over the whole atheist issue! It seems to me that the book of Romans aptly explains a few things here. Chapter 1, verses 18-22 for instance. And how about verse 28? "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind & to improper conduct." I guess there is nothing new under the sun! :o/

    You must be thinking more "spring-y" thoughts lately, eh? I'll bet you can't wait to get out & start scratching around in your flower beds! Enjoy the rest of the week.


  2. It's posts like this that make me dread going blog-free for Lent!

    This is by far one of the best posts I've ever read. Lately, I've been feeling very out of sorts and I know it is from too much fretting over a world I simply cannot change. I can change my corner of the world, though. Thank you for the tips. I'll be saving this for future reference and inspiration.

    Thank you!

  3. Thank you Brenda. As for the atheists, they are pretty rigorous debaters, but in the end, both of us are left with big question marks as to the origin of things and what came before. It is just as implausible to accept that the whole creation came from nothing as to say, well, where did God come from? "Who made God?" is the same question as "How can there be nothing before the universe and it's atoms; how did they come to be?" We cannot comprehend either concept, but I feel love coming from God, and if I am totally deluded, at least I get to keep Christmas!

  4. Today was a beautiful 70 degree plus day here. I do feel "springy", but I won't be having a big garden this year, and the reason for that deserves a post all it's own!

  5. Jenny, thanks so much for letting me know you appreciated this post! It was really late at night when I wrote it, so I have gone back and added a few thoughts and tried to correct some errors. As well as our own little corner, which is the best thing to focus on, we need to always remember that prayer changes things! And our prayers and actions do have a ripple effect, so at the end of the day, we can influence the entire world!


Please feel free to comment by clicking here.