I’m reading Station Eleven, after having watched the series on HBO. Something about the story pulled me in and inspired me and the more I think about it the more I know it is because of one of the main themes of the book is “survival is insufficient”. This book, this story, had soul.
Sometimes survival is sufficient. During a season of complete lack of basic needs (emotional, spiritual, physical), survival seems like everything, the main thing. “Survival mode”. “I’m just trying to survive” “I need to keep my head above water”. “One moment at a time”. Survival itself can be a full-minded and full-time job because something within us is telling us “You aren’t safe yet”.
Once those basic needs are met, during a season of safety and plenty, survival has now become…… insufficient.
Some would argue that EVEN IN A SEASON OF LACK SURVIVAL IS INSUFFICIENT.
My own little life, my own ordinary story, my own history, my own past and my own “now”, deep deep within my heart, mind, and soul, I’ve always known that just beyond survival is something grand, something sacred and beautiful.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” ~Jesus Christ
“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Anderson
Just a moment ago…….. I looked out the window. We live on a slight hill, the road runs by but the house faces not the street, but the woods. I see part of humanity each time a car goes by, but facing forward I can see trees and sky. The birds are singing (not every bird has a beautiful song, and yet……every bird does indeed, to those of us who listen with more than our ears). The sunshine is bright this morning and because the trees are frozen and frosted, they glitter gorgeously in the sunshine. The sun is golden and the trees are silver. The ground is coated with snow, in shades of blue and gray and white.
I invite the world in every time I turn on the news. Every time I open my computer. I myself am of the earth, fully human, ugly (and beautiful) all the time with such variety that it’s next to impossible to even guess what sort of day I will have even without stepping outside or turning anything on to see what the rest of humanity is up to. We are a mixed bag of situations, emotions, work, and even our science and logic is often tipsy.
My great grandmother told me that the basic patchwork quilt looks it’s best when the squares alternate between light and dark fabrics. One light piece, then a dark, another light piece, then a dark.
good, bad, good, bad, good, bad
easy, hard, easy, hard, easy, hard
Just a moment ago………. I imagined the beauty outside my window gone. Instead, it’s rubble, or sand, or disaster.
There would still be the sky.
What if? what if? what if?
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
I find it pretty amazing that almost without fail, a person will naturally find something to be thankful for and enjoy, even when going through a truly tragic and difficult experience. And these people shine brightly in the darkness.
Because mere survival is not enough. We were made for more.
Tasha Tudor said she would read Shakespeare while making jam in her kitchen.
wildflowers in a tin can
a ribbon in a ponytail
a smile to a stranger
leaning close to admire the tiniest of insect
the taste of a fresh crispy salad
a child playing happily in a sand box
a handicapped girl, always fighting infections, often near death, yet ever-learning and ever-loving (I know her) living on her own, having a dog as a pet, taking care of herself the best she can
a man who lovingly remembers and honors his son-in-heaven every year on his instagram account
a friend who works from home alone during the day, yet lives faithful and honorably, minding his own business, yet reaching out to people he loves to make sure they are okay.
a poor man, with only a little lamb, but he loved it
a rich man, with everything he could ever want, but only wanting what he couldn’t have (that little lamb)
Will I be content with what I have? Will I hold sacred what I have been given? Will I act with a loving heart?
We’ve read of mothers raising children in poverty, and yet keep their children clean, continue to patch the same dress over and over, and why? Why bother when no one else will see and everything else is falling apart? Maybe because this woman craves something beautiful and desires something more. It’s important to her. Her children may not have enough to eat, but they are scrubbed within an inch of their lives and their hair is combed. They may not have shoes, but they are loved.
When I scrubbed the upstairs bathroom the other day, I found myself thanking God and blessing my own children who use the shower, who dirty the sink, those whom I mother and care for. So you see, even the most humble of chores can be sacred. Any task can be made meaningful.
I want to have what I have, and love it.
I don’t want to be caught up with a life of always wanting more, or worse, wanting my own way and being selfish.
We are living in a pandemic. And many of us are thriving.
“This strange and awful time was the happiest of my life.” Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel