Artist’s Lane: Finding faith in the contrary


By Betty Slade
PREVIEW Columnist

Every morning, I watch our son, “Precious,” coffee cup in one hand, watering hose in the other, make his rounds from the tomato plants to the fruit trees. This morning, I noticed something new. The tips of the leaves in the garden have begun to get bit by our cool night temperatures. 

As if written of Mary, Mary herself, our recent weather may be contrary to an expected harvest. Fortunately, we are living proof to the contrariness that has been this growing season.

On Sunday night at our family dinner, we all agreed that we would like to hurry up the year and have it over, sooner than later. Then again, we would like to extend our short growing season for as long as possible. After all, we are just now seeing the fruits of our labor.

Instead of seasons, this year has been partitioned as pre-COVID and COVID. As the leaves on the trees begin to turn, so too will we move from COVID to post-COVID. Just as with every other seasonal change, there seems to be no shortage of angst and temper to an otherwise peaceful people.

We went to buy carpet in our neighboring town. The sales person who wore a mask behind a tall sheet of plexiglass could barely be understood as we worked to place our order. Carpeting a house requires a detailed level of discussion. Try as we may, it was obvious that the person we were talking to didn’t care to be there, let alone to help us buy what we needed. The only thing we had to show for our visit, a heightened level of frustration.

Now more than ever, I understand why my family seems so rushed to end the year. While I can certainly share in that day dream, there have been some valuable takeaways to draw from at the three-quarter mark. I doubt this world will ever go back to how it was. So, for today, we embrace where we find ourselves.

My Sweet Al and I have had plenty of time to help each of our children clean out cabinets, clear out totes and haul away a hotchpotch of collectibles. Off with the hand-me-downs and the keepsakes, in with the clean surfaces and corners of the house we didn’t know existed. 

For me specifically, this year has seen the introduction of new technology and modes of communication. While many things have ground to a halt, I was able to enjoy continuity with meetings and workshops that I attend. There is something to be said for having a lifeline where others have been cut. 

One look at social media and we see where many have turned to kitchen table arts and crafts to pass the time. Home projects that have been shelved are finally seeing the light they deserve. 

Whether we are ordering groceries online or attending virtual doctors appointments, we are learning new ways of doing things. An important thing to keep in mind — we are still a social people. Even an introvert needs interaction.

When I think about human nature, I think about God’s nature. Jacob was a con man who wrestled with others. His name would eventually be changed to Israel, which means The Wrestler. From time to time, he may have thought he was wrestling man, but was likely wrestling with God. He even named a place to remember, Peniel, which means God’s face. 

The great news, no matter if we are wrestling with those things around us or times yet to live, like Jacob, is God is always in our corner. Genesis 32:30 tells us, “For I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.” 

Final brushstroke: During these contrary times, we think we are fighting circumstance, or maybe even people. Truth is, if there is a fight to be had, it is likely with God as we wrestle to take control of the uncontrollable. When will we learn that he has brought a perfect order, even to things that seem to be filled with chaos? When will we learn to face our faith and be preserved no matter in what season we find ourselves? 

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