Covid-19 Devotion 7 from Pastor Bill

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein…”– Psalm 24:1 “My message is simple: keep looking up!”–David Lindo, famed British Ornithologist, from his building’s rooftop in Spain where he’s in quarantine. (1) A pair of cardinals is making a racket just outside the window where I’m typing this devotion at 5:38 a.m. this morning. Perhaps they’re bickering about where all the humans have gone and why it’s so quiet. Recent monitoring of ambient sound around the planet has shown the same conditions as on a typical Christmas Day. Planes, trains, and automobiles are so still, and with it–the earth. Animals are wandering around the streets of the world’s cities–wild turkeys in Oakland, pumas in Chile, even highly prized species of orchids are coming back with fewer people to pick them by riverbanks. And let’s not forget the spotted salamanders! Cooped up indoors as we are, people are beginning to miss nature, and nature is glad we’ve been indoors. Nature is having a field day.David Lindo is recommending birdwatching as a Covid-19 treatment. “Keep looking up,” he urges. That’s an interesting bit of advice, both literally and idiomatically. “Keep looking up” to see the birds of the air reminds us that the losses we’ve experienced in this experience are not all bad ones. While unable to pursue our ordinary pursuits, we have time on our hands to begin new routines and to fulfill longed-for desires to start new pastimes. Psalm 24:1 is a calling to take notice of all that God offers in nature. Fewer of us currently occupying the space outdoors has prompted animals and birds to reclaim land once their habitats. Don’t wait for Earth Day on April 24th! Let your everyday habits shift a little to take in the fullness of God’s good earth! “Keep looking up” is also a calling to practice “bounded optimism.” Professor Albert Mehrabian of UCLA coined the phrase as part of his teaching on the importance of verbal and nonverbal messaging. Bounded optimism is like hope attached to realism. Pollyanna’s optimism is harmful in a crisis like the one we’re all enduring. Magical thinking and romantic platitudes about God are unhelpful. The disruption is severe. The suffering is real and tragic. People may feel that God is absent while we’re in our greatest need. Keep looking up! … And to my listening ears
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres
This is my Father’s world… Realism promotes fruitful optimism, one that acknowledges we’re in a season of unfamiliar disruption, which requires us to behave and perform in healthy ways. Keep washing those hands! Start wearing a mask! Practice spiritual disciplines, the means of grace, which fortify the body, heart, and soul. Be an exemplar of the bounded optimism, which says, “Not everything may go well, but everything will be okay in the end.” Keep looking up! Isaiah 40:26 (CEB)–“Look up at the sky and consider:
Who created these?
God! The one who brings out the people one by one,
summoning each of them by name.
Because of God’s great strength
and mighty power, not one is missing.” Isaiah 40 is a chapter of comfort to all people in exile–in all kinds of exile. We, too, are an exilic people for awhile–exiled from people, from work, from school, (from baseball!), and from the church itself. It’s normal to feel discouraged, despondent, and even a bit defeated. But then Isaiah 40 comes blaring its trumpet: “Comfort! Comfort, my People!” Read the chapter! God’s voice rings out from the absence and into the world, promising hope! The exile will end!Keep looking up! Prayers continue,Pastor Bill. (1) Daily Monitor, April 3, 2020