Notes from Jan

The Heart of the Matter

November 5, 2021

The child cupped his hands under the outdoor faucet. Water trickled down, filling quickly the small container formed by his palms. I watched the scene unfold, a curious onlooker from a land faraway. Cautiously, he brought hands to mouth, drinking, then licking his fingers dry. No drop wasted. For a brief segment, ABC news turned viewers, like me, from small and national concerns to a world suffering from global warming. As I watched hungry, thirsty children and adults in a barren and bleak part of Madagascar, my heart hurt.

During this week I viewed segments of COP26 in Glasgow, thanks to Dean Robert at the Canterbury Cathedral. Global leaders, under the umbrella of the UN gathered in Scotland to deal with our ailing planet, reduce use of fossil fuels and aide those most impacted by our choices. Queen Elizabeth reminded us “what leaders do today for the people is politics and government. What is done for the future is statesmanship.” Then, Sir David Attenborough, another 95 year old, reminded us, “Those who have done the least damage to the planet are most harmed.” And then challenged us,” to rewrite our story and turn this tragedy into a triumph.”

Today was youth day, when young people spoke and reminded leaders to lead. Some came from Uganda, India,Samoa and the Amazon. Their messages strong, yet hopeful. How much does their future and that of our fragile planet matter compared to our personal needs and wants?

Well, as a grandmother, I care. Like many of you. It impacts how I vote, shop, use water, fuel and food. These are matters of the heart. Ultimately it demonstrates what and who I love. Some days it’s easier to settle than wrestle.

During these past few years, we’ve listened, watched or engaged in debates on faith versus science. The Church, like our nation and many families, remains divided on masks, vaccines, climate change and other issues. As one of my friends said,”What’s most disturbing is learning we’re not who I thought we were.” Maybe it’s time to rewrite the story.

Two nights ago, friends and I saw the film, A Most Reluctant Convert, on C.S. Lewis’ journey of faith. At the end of the film, it’s Christmas and they’re singing Christina Rossetti’s, “In the Bleak Midwinter.”

The song begins plaintive and as true today, as then.

“In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.”

And I thought about Jesus coming into a bleak and hurting world because God loved the world, even if the world didn’t care all that much about God. Both are still true. Then I thought about a little boy in Madagascar, where “earth is hard as iron, water like a stone”, and mostly cacti survive. And so the mamas do their best to de-prick the plants they feed the children. Which leaves bellies hurting from more than hunger.

Before long, Christmas will be here and we’ll sing again the rest of the carol.

“What can I give Him?

Poor as I am

If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb

If I were a wise man, I would do my part

But what I can I give him

Give him my heart.”

And isn’t that where it begins, whether faith in Jesus, food for the hungry, care for our earth and all creation? Or getting vaccines for the love of God and all God’s children?

The heart.

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  • Reply Mrs Toni Lovingood November 6, 2021 at 10:58 am

    I am starting my third month of “The Hungry Heart” and enjoying it so much. Thank you for teaching me this week that Amos was written by a shepherd. I am blessed by your notes as well.


  • Reply Jan Carlberg November 6, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Thank you, Toni. You encouraged me, again. God loves to feed hungry hearts. And God startles me, often, with who’s chosen to help the rest of us grow up and grow beyond where we might wish to stay. Odd ones, like Amos, a shepherd. Then again, King David, started out as a shepherd boy. He was the least likely, yet nudged by God, David was picked by Samuel to follow King Saul. God fits no boxes. Nor should we box each other into our notions of who someone can become. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond, Toni.

  • Reply Dale November 6, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks Jan. I have been educated (i.e., convicted) of creation care through BioLogos – God’s world and God’s Word. And recently, John Piper reminded me that all acts of obedience are acts against our will. We are not naturally naturalists but materialists. 🙁

    Thanks for sharing, Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg November 6, 2021 at 4:49 pm

      Yes, thank you for reminding readers of the important work of BioLogos. We are “prone to wander” and squander. I always love hearing form you, my forever brother. And as much as I appreciate aspects of capitalism, it does push us to buy new more than re-use, recycle or do without..

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