A Place Prepared

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is SWIM. This is cheating, but in response I’m going to post a devotional article I wrote some years ago, back when I was keeping a betta fish.

Image by Rebecca Lehman — Pixabay

A Place Prepared

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Alphie was a millet-brained betta fish. What did he know? His one-gallon fish bowl was the only world he’d ever experienced and he was content there. He had no clue that there could be a better environment, or that I was preparing one for him.

I’d learned that betta fish deserve a better environment than a fish bowl, so I was setting up a proper ten-gallon aquarium where he could enjoy life to the full. He’d have a heater and filter to keep his water fresh and pure. Bliss, betta style.

But this preparation couldn’t happen overnight. An aquarium needs to go through a nitrogen cycle to develop the right kind of bacteria in the filter so it will purify the water passing through. Alphie’s new home sat on the counter for over a month as it went through this cycle; during this time I added driftwood and various ornaments that would make his new world so much more interesting. Meanwhile he circled round and round in his little fish bowl, relaxed in the world he knew.

Then one day his new home was ready for him. I set his bowl beside the tank, then scooped him out in a small ladle. Now he was really confined! And scared, too; he squirmed and fought this new situation. Just a little fish; he couldn’t comprehend the big picture, or imagine a place where he could swim to his heart’s content.

Though the transfer was uncomfortable and confusing for him, it was accomplished quickly. I placed him in his new tank and his delight was obvious. So much room! So many interesting things to explore. Constant warmth and pure water. For a little fish this was paradise!

Most of us are fairly happy in this world. Some content, some not so content in our little lives, but it’s the only space we’ve ever known. Like my betta, we’re not very willing to leave it. For sure we’re not enthused about being carried out in a small box! Our comprehension of what waits on the other side is so limited.

Unlike my little fish, however, we can know God’s plans for us. Jesus has revealed them to His followers; by faith we can believe His words. He has prepared a place for a people who have prepared themselves: those who have placed their faith in his promises and their lives in his will.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14: 2-3

And we can rejoice like the Psalmist:

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalm 23:6

A Day’s Journey

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is TRAFFIC. Here’s a little verse in response:

rush hour traffic
streams of weary communters
snailing homeward

Today We Bury My Sister

Donna died of a drug overdose on November 28, two days after her 66th birthday. Her middle son, James, had her cremated within days, but it’s taken while to arrange burial of her ashes in her daughter Barbie’s grave. Barb died back in 1989, from what likely would have started as cervical cancer. A sad time for us all; Barb was just sixteen and full of life.

Being a Saturday morning, the traffic on the highway between here and Moose Jaw will probably be light. We’re to meet at the cemetery at noon to bury the urn holding Donna’s ashes, then we’ll have a gathering in remembrance, which will take the form of a family picnic in the park. I don’t expect it to be a large gathering, as she lived in her own circle of friends so a lot of her nieces and nephews hardly knew her.

Donna and I were close when we were young — as close as siblings can be when they live in different homes over 100 miles apart — but as an adult she and her family lived here in SK while we moved East and lived in Ontario and Quebec. Coming back to SK, I was only able to locate her a few times. So, sadly I’ve only seen her four or five times in the past thirty years — mainly at family funerals.

I haven’t had anything to do with her Rob & Jason, her oldest & youngest sons, since I spent a few days with Donna when Barb died. Sad when families get so estranged, but my husband and I chose a different path — lifestyle if you will — and lost contact with them. Hopefully we can get a bit more acquainted today.

Beauty and The Beast

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was The Extraordinary in the Ordinary.

The idea behind this prompt was that there’s beauty in the simplest things and I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been amazed at times by the petals of a flower, the iridescence of a bug, the symmetrical shape shape of a tree, the strength in a mechanic’s hands as he twisted a wrench. But today my thoughts have gone in a different line.

Innocence
Beauty
Murderous

Last Sunday morning my sister Donna lost her life to drugs.

Brushes, Candles & Drugs

Hello Everyone! I wonder what sort of a day you’re having?

So far this day has brought me a mixture of relief, celebration and sorrow. I’m relieved and relaxed because our Craft Sale is over. On Friday I was at my table at the Villa from 10am-5pm setting up, chatting with other vendors and customers, and selling a few of my pictures. I didn’t sell a lot, but then mine weren’t Christmas-themed like most of the items for sale. I should do some snow scenes to fit the season.

I’m putting my brushes away for a few days, but am happy in retrospect to have done the work even though I didn’t sell many paintings. Every bit of painting works toward improving. Also, I photocopied a dozen with the thought of sometime making note cards. And here’s one:

I did add more sky colors to the water on the left before I varnished it.
I have much to learn about reflections.

Re: the candles mentioned in my title. Today is our grandson’s 11th birthday, so there’ll be cake and candles and presents for him this evening.

Sad to say, a few tears have dampened the joy when I got the news that my sister Donna was found dead this morning. She turned sixty-six two days ago.

When we got home from church there was a message on our phone from my sister Wilma, saying she had to talk to me. Wilma has been living in Alberta for years; she and I have chatted a few times a year since our sister Rose died. So I knew this call was serious and suspected a death or accident — never dreamed it would be Donna, though. But then, I haven’t had contact with Donna for ages and had no idea she’s been a heavy drug user for years. The drug paraphernalia found with her indicates she likely died of an overdose.

I’m very sad about this. When we were younger I was close to Donna and have always cared very much for her in spite of our lack of contact. At our sister Rose’s funeral three years back Donna gave me a big hug and then disappeared, didn’t stay to talk with anyone. I knew her life wasn’t at all stable, but thought alcohol was the main issue. Her youngest son is apparently also heavy into drugs and is currently doing time at the correctional centre. So the authorities had no trouble locating him when his mom was found dead. An autopsy is pending.

Her oldest son is working in northern Alberta and can’t be contacted, so all the planning is falling on son #2, the one who has his head together. I talked with him this afternoon and we both grieved over his mom and their messed up home.

The Brevity of a Dash

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word this morning is BREVITY

And I suppose a person’s thoughts automatically go to “the brevity of life.” At least mine did, so here’s my response:

“Pleasant View” – what an upbeat name for a cemetery! Definitely a “Rest in Peace” note to that. I suspect half the cemeteries in this country are named Pleasant View, Rest Haven, or some slight variation.

I stroll through the cemetery searching familiar names and came across two identical tombstones, side by side. Small flat marble slabs, the first bearing the name:
James A Thorlakson
1933 – 1956

I pondered for a moment how much living is represented by that brief dash:
The baby in his mother’s arms, lovingly welcomed into the family
The small boy growing up in Aunt Sadie’s large family
The rough and tumble of childhood antics with three brothers
Sitting in school day after day, learning the three R’s –or daydreaming?
The teen years with their whirl of picnics, socials, weddings
His marriage to Margaret; the joys of setting up a home
Finding work in the oil fields, moving to southern Saskatchewan
Then the fatal car accident that etched the final date on his tombstone

The dates and the dash do tell me about the brevity of his life. Likewise with the next marble slab:
Walter F Thorlakson
1933 – 1956

I know that this single young man was killed in the same fiery car crash, together with their brother-in-law. Thank God cars have a better electrical system nowadays that they don’t burst into flames after a crash!

The dates don’t tell you how the three young men, all employed in the oil field, jumped in the car one Sunday afternoon – headed to a store? – and died on the highway near Weyburn. A family tragedy.

Their father couldn’t bear his loss. Depressed, he took his life in 1958. Another life abbreviated by this tragedy. His tombstone rests here in Pleasant View Cemetery as well.

Aunt Sadie carried on, bearing her losses and raising her other children as best she could. Sadie lived to be 92; her dash represents many years lived before and after these heartaches and others. For all her suffering, in her older years when I knew her, she was the sweetest, kindest person.