The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild
“Peace, Be Still”
By Julie Terry Cartner
By the creek at my favorite spot where rippling water flows over mossy rocks, I often sit on the leaf-covered bank and write in my journal. Sheltered by towering trees, some of which have probably stood there for several generations, I lean against the smooth bark of a beech tree and soak in the tranquility of nature. Peace. Be still. The words echo through my brain. Nearby, my two dogs, Linus and Lucy, lie patiently, waiting for me to finish my prose. They are patient; they’ve already had a mile or so of walking and at least one or two dips in the creek, and they are content to find a ray of sunshine filtering through the trees to relax and enjoy. Overhead, birds converse with each other, and chattering squirrels scurry across varied branches. Below me, on the sandy beach I see tracks, deer, raccoon and heron, all too shy to appear while my dogs and I are around.
In the tense environment of the coronavirus, it is wonderful to have a place where I can go and just be still, to be one with nature. I feel sorry for people who live in places where they don’t have anywhere they can get away, and wonder, once again, how anyone could choose a city over the rustic beauty of Davie County or any small, rural area. Like everyone around me, I feel the stress of the unknown, the fear of the rampant spread of the virus, the uncertainty of not knowing how long our lives are going to be so impacted, and unutterable sorrow for those who have lost loved ones from this epidemic.
But as I sit, I also think of the unprecedented byproducts of this time of social distancing and sheltering in place. Environmentalists and other scientists tell of the major reduction in air pollution with fewer cars on the road and the massive reductions of air travel. Venice’s water is clear for the first time in longer than most people alive can remember. The reduction in energy usage and the reduction in disposable plastic consumption, again, due to people staying home, is unparalleled, and even the earth itself is calming down. Seismic noise is lower than scientists have recorded in years.
People are staying home; families are re-connecting; children have time to play. We have a much greater respect for nurses, teachers, essential store employees and delivery people. Of course, it’s not all good, but there is good inside of the horror of Covid-19.
So as I sit beside my creek and ponder the positive facts of our current way of life, I think of several scriptures, some of my favorites, actually, that have a new and deeper meaning for me right now. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Mark 4:39 tells us of Jesus’ words to the disciples, “Peace be still” And finally in one of my favorite hymns, “Hymn of Promise,” the composer and lyricist Natalie Sleeth reminds us, “There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.”
There is much we have no control over, but as the weeks march onward in this pandemic, let’s take control over what we can. Let’s make the choice to appreciate the beauty around us. Let’s take the time to be still. Let’s seek our own personal peace. Let’s hold on to hope and make the most of each day we are given.
“A Child’s World”
By Gaye Hoots
Our present world is one in which adults are having a difficult time getting their bearings. Faith is our anchor, but it is hard to adjust to all the changes and to make sense of them. Imagine what it is like for a three-year-old who hears the concern in adult voices.
Last week one of my twin granddaughters saw the president speaking on TV. “Guys be quiet. This is important. The whole earth has shut down.” There was excitement and puzzlement in her voice as she named the places she and her sister could no longer go, restaurants, grocery stores, preschool, dancing lessons, swim lessons, or church.
“It’s because of the virus,” they told me. I reassured them by saying that no one in our family is sick and that if their mom got sick, I would take care of them, “We are still getting takeout pizza and cupcakes from Maddie’s, so we are good.”
That cheered them up and reassured them. I told the girls that in a few weeks, they would be able to go places again and see their friends. They stopped talking about it, so I think they are going to be alright now when they hear adults talking about it.
A few nights ago, they faced a different challenge. While they were playing in the yard at my sister’s, a strong wind whipped, up blowing a cloud of pollen. Everly shrieked that a tornado was coming and ran to my sister, who got her inside the house safely. “I was scared to death. I thought I was going to die. Nanny Faye saved my life!”
That was how she experienced the windstorm. Her twin wanted help finding her kite so she could fly it while she had a strong wind. They reacted differently, but both know family is nearby to ensure their safety.
The night before Easter the twins told me of an animal making strange noises that awakened them. He was in their front yard. “It was a coyote.”
Before I could tell them how to handle this crisis, they said, “If he comes back to our yard, we will shoot him.” Their mom told them she would keep them safe. “We will shoot him and take him up to Papa Nick’s so he can see him.”
Today they became aware of another possible danger. A large tree uprooted by last night’s storm lay in their yard. They watched as Papa Nick took his chainsaw to the tree. “That is cool,” they said as they watched him cut limbs off the tree and load them to haul away. They learn how to deal with adverse situations by watching the adults around them. If we have a plan, they feel safe.
When it is safe to travel, they want to go to the beach, and we plan to take them. “I want to live at the beach,” Everly added. Aubrey had a better plan, “I want to live at the beach with Miss ‘Rene.’”
She was referring to Mrs. Lorene Markland, whose husband Charles is related to them. She has invited them to their home here on several occasions, and that is the ultimate in entertainment to them. We are still having fun and looking forward to many things we took for granted before.
By Marie Craig
Sometimes, I have difficulty deciding on a subject for this article. Once chosen, I can write pretty fast, but the topic evades me sometimes. The word “comfort” was repeating itself in my mind this morning when I awoke. Perhaps it’s one of the most important words ever. As we think back to our childhood, we can remember a family member helping us over a stumped toe, a case of the chickenpox, or a disappointment at school. Bad things happen to everybody, but with some sincere words and affection, they can be lessened.
As we grew older, we learned that we could cope with trouble by remembering the comforting words we were given earlier in our lives. Then we became the ones who gave comfort to others. It’s a progression of learning and sharing.
But what about the children who never received this helpful example of comfort and patience? Our life now is full of hurry and short tempers. That’s not what will get us through this time of isolation, following directions, and apprehension. I watched a video online that my financial company sent me. Their closing remarks were, “We’re handling this rough time by being calm, deliberate, and methodical.” Their words were well-chosen and gave me comfort. I decided these were three very helpful words that can be applied to matters other than investments. I wrote these three wonderful words where I’ll see them and remember their message.
One of our greatest accomplishments is to be able to share and give comfort to others. It must be at a distance now, but phone calls, texts, and emails are needed for people who are upset and hurting.
One of the many benefits from having a strong religious belief is the comfort that is acquired and given. Praying for others and yourself will give you peace. Being a part of a church membership is a great sharing experience. I send this message of comfort to you.
“Resurrection – Social Distancing”
By Shari Keller
Looking at our pastor preaching to empty pews Easter morning via the internet and seeing pictures of thousands of churches with empty pews across the world, I came to realize several things. Social Distancing has had the opposite effect on Christians, as I watch the world come to grips with a new reality. I see those who never saw themselves as leaders step up to the task without reserve. I see a multitude rising up, putting them in harm’s way to care for others, and sometimes with the sacrifice of their own lives. Blessing after blessing, some large, some so small they might have seemed insignificant several months ago, but now are received with so much gratitude and virtual hugs.
As a world, we are learning that all the extra trappings of life: social esteem, titles, privilege, and fame, mean nothing in the light of an invisible enemy. If one believes, or at least hopes there is a Heaven, then one must also believe that Hell exists, and therein lies the unseen enemy. It has been said by more than one that we, as a nation, will come out of this time of loss and sorrow forever changed. Our world will never be the same.
My view is that as Christians, we are commanded to “Love One Another”, (as Christ has loved us). That will never change. The importance of that Commandment has been magnified during this time of uncertainty, and as I heard the Gospel stream over the unseen World Wide Web, I realize our charge to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” is being accomplished, just as a world is brought to its knees by an unseen force. I firmly believe that day is coming when empty pulpits and vacant church pews will be all the unsaved will find. They will be just as empty as the Tomb on Resurrection Morning. It will not matter if you attended a mega church, or a small country church. All those of faith, who are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, will be gone.
The importance of having had the freedom to sit in one of those pews for many years weighs heavily on me. Social distancing has come with a price, but I also see it as an opportunity, allowing us time to reflect on what is truly important, or may be missing in our lives. How we proceed in the new reality that awaits after COVID-19 is an unknown. It is a decision to be made by each one of us, alone.
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