Searching For Goodness In a Difficult Time

Meditations in MotionI don’t usually run the day after a long run. Yesterday, however, I needed to get out and move, even though Hubby and I had completed double-digit miles the day before.

We agreed beforehand we were only going to go three miles, our shortest distance. We also agreed we were going to take it easy, even though we both knew we were lying.

For some reason, after a slower warm-up, we usually get rolling faster and faster, increasing our pace without really trying.

Either I am trying to keep up with him, or he with me, but our pace gradually escalates until one of us (me) says, “I need to slow down.

But yesterday was different.

I felt good, strong, like I could run forever. Believe me, these days, I don’t get too many outings like that. I don’t even get too many minutes like that.

Yesterday, for 10 minutes, I felt like…well, like a woman half my age.

It was beautiful.

Meditations in MotionWhen I finished, I walked a short distance along a bike path, then began the steep climb to my front door. It’s a walk I take a hundred times a year. My hubby was probably already in the shower as I was still puffing up the hill.

I passed a large planting bed filled with tiny purple flowers my mother called “Indian Paintbrush” when I glimpsed a shade of green among the flowers that seemed out of place

I bent over for a closer look.

A praying mantis was perched on some leaves, grooming herself like a cat, rubbing one “hand” over her head time after time.

She turned abruptly to her left and was instantly still, focused, and almost quivering with anticipation.

Suddenly, she exploded in a clatter of legs and whirring wings and pounced on a hapless lanternfly.

I was so startled, I jumped back and yelled. My neighbor probably thought I was being attacked.

Laughing at myself, I recovered and thought to watch the final act of the gruesome drama unfold but I couldn’t easily find predator and prey and I did not want to disturb the scene. We need all the help we can get in eradicating the invasive lanternfly.

If an ally as formidable and spine-chilling as a praying mantis is on our side, I thought, lanternflies don’t stand a chance.

It was an image I won’t soon forget.

Meditations in MOtionI have been thinking lately about how we are all collectors of snapshots.

The photos on my phone and older ones stuffed into shoe boxes in a closet serve as triggers that initiate a flood of memories associated with the images we capture.

When I look at this picture of Colorado grasslands, I remember its green, vegetal smell after a brief summer rain. I recall the elation we felt as we climbed to the top of each rise on the trail and were rewarded with another stunning vista, the blue mountain background framing the sage-hued foreground.

I recollect the “Crrrr-iiick, crrr-iiick, crrr-iiick” sounds we thought were emitted by frogs in nearby ponds until we saw three sandhill cranes flying close by above our heads.

I remember the dozens of grasshoppers that exploded to our left and right with every step we took and feeling like Moses at the Red Sea. Rather than clearing a path of water ahead of us, grasshoppers parted as we strode.

I remember beautiful scenes from other times and places: ice crystals sparkling from trees in the pale winter light following a freezing rain storm, monarch butterflies flitting among milkweed so fragrant their heady scent filled the whole valley, a particularly striking slant of sunlight reflecting from a stream as it bounded over a rocky ledge, holding a baby in the quiet warmth of a bedroom late at night.

2020 has been a tough year. Painful and full of losses. Sometimes it feels like all the stories are sad ones.

I can’t help thinking, though, about the glimpses of beauty we are afforded even in this difficult time – the exhilaration of a good run, the incredible power of a praying mantis, the spare appeal of an arid landscape – and remembering that good still exists in this world. It exists in abundance.

Blessings are flung broadside all around us.

We must remember to look for them.

Maybe it is more difficult in this year of relative darkness, maybe our search must be more disciplined, maybe we will find only small examples of the grace we seek.

But, like exquisitely wrapped hidden treasures, they are the reward for our persistent search.

We must pursue goodness, and do so relentlessly.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 12:21

 

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66 comments

  1. “Blessings are flung broadside all around us.” Yes, Laurie they are indeed! Maybe especially so in these times of darkness and uncertainty. God is with us, still ready to show us His love and grace in the most mundane of circumstances. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear!
    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful – the image of the graceful preying mantis distracting the lanternfly. It reminded me of a time we were in a village in the middle of nowhere in Bali, had pulled up at the side of the road to stand and look over fields of green – rice – that seemed to go forever. As we stepped a cloud of dragonflies exploded into the air. I didn’t capture it on camera, all I could do was look on in awe. And then it was over. A snapshot in time.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Laurie – I was asked what the secret was to coping with these difficult times the other day – and I think it’s exactly what you’re saying here…..looking for those little glimmers of goodness/joy/positivity/grace. They’re all around us if we take the time to focus in on them – and if we don’t then the world seems a lot darker.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good does still exist in abundance. I’m glad you were able to get a glimpse into the goodness that really is all around us. Yesterday’s run revealed the seasons changing as the sunrise broke through a light fog. Colors too subtle for my phone’s camera to capture. The crisp morning air was a refreshing change from the thick humidity of last week.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love this, Laurie! First of all, I’m so inspired by how much running you do! Second, I truly needed this reminder to notice the beauty of God’s creation all around me. I plan to do that on this holiday with my husband! Thank you for this nudge!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. well, the smoke from wildfires was so engulfing here in Aurora Colorado yesterday we couldn’t leave the house.
    Burning out of control, at least 4 of them burning the state, ruining running for a lot of people I suspect.
    I agree, we should all do our best, seek to do the right thing not just defend a political party, but remember the common good. Whatever happened to that idea? The common good, one must sometimes consider others in order for all life to be better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, no! I didn’t realize the fires were so close to Aurora. When we were out in August, we saw the haze in the distance that our daughter-in-law told us was from wildfires. I am hoping for the best for you! I couldn’t agree more. We do need to fucus on the common good again. It is our responsibility!

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      • My son and DIL have been visiting from Oregon. They leave to go home today. In their town, residents have been warned not to leave their houses due to the smoke.

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  7. Your great feelings remind me of how I used to feel riding my bicycle.

    I lived in Georgia and rode my bike to and from work every day, twenty miles on the button. Most of the time it was just a workout. Sometimes, though, it was pure drudgery, forcing every turn of the crank and, for an hour I wondered what in the world I was doing. Then – maybe once a month – I would get on the bike and warm up for two or three miles and it all came in sync, like magic descended. I worked perfectly, my bike worked perfectly, and we were completely in sync, like a machine. It was pure joy to ride on those days, and I used to push myself on lousy days, telling myself that I was that much closer to a glorious ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laurie, What a beautiful rhythm in your life – the consistency of the run, the finding the details – like preying mantis’s and – something we don’t have here yet – lanternflies. God leaves us so many hidden messages and blessings in our daily – what He left for you had whimsy, excitement – and a message! Even in Covid – He doesn’t neglect us!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is the smallest treasures that sometimes hold the most meaning and leave vibrant memories imprinted on our soul. The story about the praying mantis – wow. I have been trying to learn about hummingbirds, since starting to feed them for the first time this Summer. I’ve been following a few hummingbird sites and learned that one of the enemies of hummingbirds is the praying mantis who hide, then springs and kills them. I will spare you the gory details I read. It made me not think too kindly of this insect, though I’ve never “met” one to date. I hold it in the same esteem as the Coopers Hawk that snatched all my sweet house squirrels … nature is so cruel sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Glad you liked that Laurie – I think more and more after this brutal 2020, we should all have a different outlook about life and hopefully the non-nature souls have fostered a deeper appreciation for nature’s gifts than they did before this last six months. I had just read the story about the praying mantises a few days before your post – I was horrified to hear that they hide in leafy areas then make their move on unsuspecting birds.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hope 2020 has changed our outlook on life too. We certainly did learn some hard lessons. I read a FB post asking for data from anyone who sighted a bird preying on a lanternfly. I just saw the praying mantis pouncing on one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it will never be the same again, no matter the type of spin you put on it. I wonder if the person collecting data would not think it possible that a praying mantis would be capable of preying on a lanternfly and blamed its demise on a bird instead.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Your vibrancy on that run–and subsequent grace that enabled you to stop and engage and be so fully present with the mantis…those are exquisite gifts. Bottle them up and dose ’em out when you need them again! Which is what it sounds like you did with those photo memories…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Laurie,
    Like you, I’ve found myself looking for simple goodness. Often, I’ve found it in my own yard. Three golden finches (I call them the three Sopranos) have come to my black-eyed susans everyday to feast on their seeds. It’s been great to look up from my work and just watch them – taking mental shapshots of this simple goodness from God. Like you said, it’s there…we just need to be persistent in our search.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Ahhh, Laurie. I so appreciate this post. We had a praying mantis on our front screen door last summer. It was an amazing thing to see! And I’ve discovered that if I am intentional about looking for good, looking for beauty—looking for God—even in the hardest seasons, I can find it. God’s fingerprints are all around us, if we’ll only look for Him.

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  13. I loved the joy and beauty in this post, Laurie. I felt I could have been there. I too, look for snapshots of my day and take a lot as well. The past 2 months have been annoying in that my freedom has been curtailed thanks to first a major abdominal surgery and then, after 3 weeks of recovery, a complication arose with part of the wound not healing. So, back to surgery and then home for more recovery time. I have had to PACE myself and accept that my lack of freedom is temporary. I made myself an drawing a day challenge for 30 days and am doing more mindful art. But today, I received the news I can drive again and I admit, I am soooo ready to be back out there.

    Thank you for linking up for life this week. Next week’s optional prompt is 37/51 Remembering Sydney 2000. 14.9.2020 Hope you link up Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so sorry you have been having a rough time, Denyse. I hope you are well on the road to recovery now. I am sure you will be back to “normal” (whatever that is!) soon.

      Sorry I missed the link up this week. My father-in-law passed away and his service was yesterday. Family was staying with us and I just didn’t get time to write anything. Hope to see you next week.

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  14. Hi Laurie, I love runs like that, but I too don’t get them very often either. I never ran with my husband when he ran, it was too much for me and he was very competitive with a much bigger stride than me!… I can honestly say that I came to appreciate the simple/ little things in life a long time ago and they make me happy. I don’t want lots of money and I don’t need new things (although a new camera lens every year or two is appreciated). I would have got a real thrill from seeing the praying mantis go for the kill!… I think times like these help us to really see and appreciate what is positive around us.

    Stay safe.

    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • When the magic happens during a run, I tend to hand onto it and replay the run over and over in my head. I love it! I wanted to watch the praying mantis go for the kill too but I didn’t want to scare her off her dinner by parting the flowers and looking for her. You stay safe too, Deb!

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  15. Laurie – wonderful poem!
    The closing verse was a nice ending and this was not preachy but heartfelt!
    And loved moving along with your descriptions – like this
    “ picture of Colorado grasslands, I remember its green, vegetal smell after a brief summer rain. I recall the elation we felt as we climbed to the top of each rise”

    Liked by 1 person

  16. i love your “run ponderings”, as a walker myself, I also love the ponderings that come as I walk. You inspire me to pick up the pace a bit 😉 looking forward to reading more of your ponderings…
    glad i found you from crystalstorms.me link up!

    mariel
    marieldavenport.com

    Liked by 1 person

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