Temporary Havens

Like so many others everywhere, we are self-isolating at home during this unexpected and truly frightening threat. My husband and I find ourselves in a “high-risk” category, not just because of our age (we are “elderly” on paper, it seems).  Russ has been on a blood thinner since 2002, and my battle with septic shock last year puts my immune system at risk. So we are paying close attention.

We knew we would not be able to help in concrete ways. We are usually ready to jump into the fray. We are among those who will help best by staying home.

Our grown daughters have instructed us not to go out . . . an ironic twist from their teenage years. THEY are checking on US.

When we built this home twenty-seven years ago, we knew we were creating a special place for our family, a sanctuary of sorts, just outside our small town on the shores of an East Tennessee lake. We have the best of both worlds. Small town roots near an amazing city.

We know how blessed we are. We can “self-isolate,” and still take nice long walks in our neighborhood. We spend time on our dock and around our firepit, reading and feeding our souls in the stunning beauty of this restful haven. We are safe from this scary pandemic, and so are our neighbors. We are all well aware of the necessity of making sure we are not carriers. We trust each other.

We have become noticers.

There is a road nearby with few homes. When we turn the corner, a gorgeous natural area, wooded and low-lying, greets us.  It is considered a “green area,” still untouched. The natural growth is stunning.

Since we had more than our share of rain this winter (and lately), this stretch has been home to many temporary puddles and small ponds, where lake water from the cove has drifted in from heavy rains (the joke around here is that we only lost an hour of RAIN when daylight savings changed). It is actually beautiful.

Today something new occurred.

Something surprising and lovely. There were ducks swimming around in a makeshift pond/puddle. Yes, ducks. Pretty far from the water in the cove. As Russ walked there this morning, he saw them happily paddling around. This is a temporary site for them, at best. We see these same ducks often in our cove.

Got me thinking.

Since God often “speaks” to me through His creation, I took note. Ducks . . .in such an unlikely place, seemingly undeterred and completely at peace.

As these seasoned ducks were exploring, they found a little temporary haven. They were happy and content in this new and unfamiliar place, just as if they were in the open water that is home. Or maybe familiar water, but in a new and limited space. It struck me that God often does this for us.

Temporary havens.

Places God prepares for us that take us by surprise. Safe places where we are still protected and cared for, but new and unfamiliar. For a time.

Perhaps God gives us temporary havens, designed to provide new lenses to see the world through fresh eyes.

Perhaps narrowing our lives will widen our perspective.

Perhaps temporary havens are for the purpose of narrowing our sight and opening our hearts.

To rest . . . renew . . . and refocus.

This shelter-in-place directive has been a gift. Targeted focus. Staying connected without the frenzy of calendars and schedules

We have regarded this as time to settle down, to settle the soul for a while. Time to be genuinely sensitive to God’s voice and to what really matters. A chance to tune out the voices of our culture that seek to distract us. And be open to what’s next.

Spiritual heart surgery.

Life is now unpredictable. We are all limited. The ducks embraced the limitations of the small temporary pond and relished it. The boundaries gave them rest.

Perhaps that is our “aha” moment from all of this. God is showing us that we can be at home wherever He plants us. Perhaps we will emerge as different, more compassionate people. For those of us forced to slow down, my hope is that this very real threat changes us all for the better. And that it will last.

Temporary havens. Perhaps we should search for them.

After all, what our Father really wants from us is our hearts . . . and our time. A heart willing to follow Him and trust His Word. This challenging time is a treasure, not a burden. An opportunity for spiritual transformation.

Temporary havens. Sanctuary for the soul. Golden time to get to know our Creator, and ourselves, better.

Roberta Frost Simmons is a retired teacher and child development specialist and a seasoned volunteer. She and her husband of 44 years, Russ, live in Kingston, Tennessee. She loves the outdoors, hiking, traveling, and digging into Scripture. She has two grown daughters, one in Nashville and one in Denver, and two adorable grandchildren.