Notes from Jan

The Good Old Days Weren’t So Good

April 25, 2020

Cabin fever’s spreading like lies and misinformation in parts of the country.  Some tote guns, wave signs and assorted flags to show their support for the President, and others to express their frustration with how things are.   Everyone’s impacted, some more than others. Those of us with resources need to look for ways to help feed the hungry and support the most vulnerable during this health and economic crises. It’s encouraging to see creative and sacrificial ways many are doing this, exemplifying the best  for the rest.

For those of us who live alone, and miss human touch and voice, it’s challenging to hold onto sanity, even for an introvert.  We need to hug and be hugged.  Some hungers are greater than food deprivation.  I’m almost ready to welcome robocalls.

The world’s upside down, as a neighbor and friend recently reminded me.

“Old people are trying to sneak out of their houses and  young folks are telling them to stay inside!”

Many long for  a return to life before Covid-19.   Bring back the familiar, normal life.  The issue is, “normal was the problem,” said Dr. Dorothy Boorse, in last week’s Adult Bible Study. She’s teaching on  Covid 19 and it’s impact on creation. Fascinating to Google some stunning visuals of before and after the great deceleration of normal days on this planet. Seeing is believing and breathing better, when it comes to climate change. To hasten back to normal is to do irreparable harm to people and this planet.   So why hanker for what was?

Remember the story of the children of Israel on the other side of the Red Sea?  They’d experienced some mighty miracles but sometimes miracles aren’t enough. They were sick of manna and before long, yearned for the good old days.

The story’s old, yet new.

“The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but manna!'”(Numbers 10:4-6, NIV)

That’s the problem with normal.  It’s costly. We think all the food we enjoyed from throughout the world, tons of  trash dumped into our oceans or piled atop or under the earth, energy greedily consumed,  came at no cost , other than a statement on our monthly credit card.  Worst of all, we undervalued and underpaid the ones who absorbed our costs with their lives, even children in faraway places, stitching with small fingers to provide the cheapest price possible for goods we didn’t always need but wanted.

God, I pray we don’t return to normal. May caring and kindness spread like a holy virus.  I hope we’ll choose  face to face mealtimes(no phones allowed) and be truly thankful for the food we eat.  Not just grateful for the hands that  bought or prepared the meal but for those who planted, picked, packed, drove it to market.  We’ll remember to thank God for folks who unpacked, shelved, or stood on aching legs for hours to work a check-out lane, while wondering how they’d pay the rent or babysitter. It’s a rare clerk who hasn’t handed me the receipt, smiled and said, “Have a good day.” All I did was swipe my credit card, nothing deserving  a good day.

Goodness survives in this world, often through names like Pablo, Maria, Aleksandr, Fabiola, Guadalupe, Widelene, Mateo and Katarina.  Some undocumented. We need them, not for their service as much as their goodness. They, like we, are God’s image bearers in this world. Jesus called the poor, the meek, blessed. What do we call them?

Count me out of the push to return to the good old days.  With tough choices, the best can be ahead, not behind.  We’re called to work for the common Good.  This is a Good day to begin and come November to add an exclamation point!




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  • Reply Daphne Key April 25, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you, Jan. I am so thankful for your wisdom and clarity— and thankful for my dear friend, Barry Loy, for “introducing “ us. Stay well. Daphne Key, Raleigh, NC

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Oh, Daphne, you keep good company with the Loys. They’re two of the Good ones. I miss them.

  • Reply Jenny Milligan April 25, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Jan, I don’t know if you remember me, but I wanted to say thank you! I have been quietly following your blog for a few months and your words have been balm to my soul! Thanks for all you taught me at Gordon and for all the ways you continue to minister for Christ. Love, Jenny (Pinkus) Milligan ’02. P.S. Margaret (Taylor) Feit, Rachel (Simons) Dyenchanko and Erika (Day) Roberson met with you during our Senior Yr if that helps.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      What a sweet surprise. Yes, I remember you and feel like you sent me a big hug. So happy we’ve connected through this blog. I love all “my”Gordon girls.

  • Reply dale April 25, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks Jan,

    i am fascinated by the “new normal,” as if everything to date was good and this will be bad. This situation actually gives us the opportunity to make normal what God always has intended it be – loving the Lord your God and your neighbors as yourself.

    Blessings, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2020 at 1:53 pm

      You, dear friend Dale, are one of the Good guys. We are a fearful lot and often cling to the familiar, no matter how bad it was or is. Faith dares to tip-toe into the unknown.

  • Reply Gail MacDonald April 25, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    You always enlarge our hearts and minds, Jan–to think, cajole, convict, encourage, take action, repent, and love more sacrificially. We are so grateful.

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    And I am grateful for you, my Forever Friend.

  • Reply RUSS BISHOP April 25, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Well said, Jan. Robohug com
    ing your way….

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2020 at 3:08 pm

      Accepted, gratefully, Russ. Hope before too long our Breakfast Group can gather at the ipswich Inn to solve some of the world’s ills with a side of crispy bacon or bowl of oatmeal.

  • Reply Dan Rus April 25, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    “Everything Is Waiting for You”
    by David Whyte

    After Derek Mahon

    Your great mistake is to act the drama
    as if you were alone. As if life
    were a progressive and cunning crime
    with no witness to the tiny hidden
    transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
    the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
    even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
    the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
    out your solo voice. You must note
    the way the soap dish enables you,
    or the window latch grants you freedom.
    Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
    The stairs are your mentor of things
    to come, the doors have always been there
    to frighten you and invite you,
    and the tiny speaker in the phone
    is your dream-ladder to divinity.

    Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
    conversation. The kettle is singing
    even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
    have left their arrogant aloofness and
    seen the good in you at last. All the birds
    and creatures of the world are unutterably
    themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

  • Reply Jan Carlberg April 25, 2020 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you, Russ, for this tender-wise poem. There are sounds and sights that comfort like good friends.

  • Reply wendy lane April 29, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Again such wise thoughts.
    “May caring and kindness spread like a holy virus.” Yes please Lord God!!
    It is so wonderful to see how many are rising up to help others, and so sobering to see such hurt, pain, and anger.
    I cried when I watched this video – such a beautiful combination of joy and sorrow, with The Lord’s blessing over it all.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg April 29, 2020 at 11:35 am

      Eventually, both posts worked., Wendy. Thank you for praying and cheering on the Good that’s happening.

      • Reply wendy lane April 29, 2020 at 11:42 am

        Yay 🙂

  • Reply Wendy Lane April 29, 2020 at 11:28 am

    A little late in replying, but wanted to really read this thoroughly. Such good thoughts once again.
    “May caring and kindness spread like a holy virus.” Yes dear Lord!!
    So wonderful to see a lot of kindness and love, but so sobering to see all the pain, suffering (physical and emotional), and anger… I cried through this video done the song “The Blessing” – a powerful combination of the sorrows and joys.
    I hope that link works for you.
    Love, Wendy

  • Reply wendy lane April 29, 2020 at 11:30 am

    Thank you Jan.
    Especially love this “May caring and kindness spread like a holy virus. ” Yes Lord!!
    Love, Wendy
    (PS – the first 2 times I posted it didn’t take, hope this does!)

  • Reply Nancy Sheys May 6, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Preach it sister! What clarification and encouragement you declare! Sending virtual hugs your way! Keep up declaring!

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