For the last two or so years (maybe not quite that long) we have housed a Phodopus, more commonly known as a “dwarf hamster,” or as Amy would call it, a rat. Aaron just called him “Bro.” Bro was his idea, which probably comes as no surprise. He bought this nocturnal rodent with money he was supposed to use for school lunches. Speaking of nocturnal, Bro loved to exercise on his wheel starting at, say, 10 PM and would stay at it until about 5 or 6 AM. Each night I was lulled into sleep with the turns of the rat wheel and each morning it was still spinning to greet me for the day.
Then it happened. A day or so passed and I did not hear the wheel turn. Ah, a peaceful evening. By the next night I suggested to Aaron that it was quiet, unusually so, from Bro’s abode. Upon further inspection we both discovered that “Bro was no mo.” Since there seemed to be an unwritten but mutually assumed advanced directive that discouraged “extraordinary life-saving measures,” both boys (by now Clark was involved in the grieving process) commenced with funeral proceedings. This included the obligatory digging of the grave and preparing the headstone while accompanied by selections from the soundtrack “O Brother Where Art Thou.” If you think I am making any of this up I will gladly direct you to the gravesite where you can pay your respects to the earthly remains of the understated and brief life of Bro, a rodent of rodents.
Perhaps Bro’s untimely passing – although I have no idea of the lifespan of a hamster – will help us better focus on All Saints Day, this Sunday. We walk this earth gently and we hold onto things loosely – even rodents (or maybe especially rodents). In the words of the Preacher of Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (KJV 3:1) Leaves are turning, falling even, the air is wonderfully chilled, and autumn in all of its glory marks the ending of one season and will be our guide as we change into the next.
Some changes are welcome, but many changes leave us anxious and unmoored. When facing change sometimes we grieve over our loss, what use to be but is no more. Perhaps at work you find that there are additional responsibilities, or a new supervisor, or a change in business. Maybe you are reading this at home and you see your children growing up and out while your parents are growing old and frail. Not sure of what is ahead, it is tempting to look back nostalgically and think it was much better back then.
And then there are those times we pursue change thinking that something else is better. In the 1920s there was a folk song called The Big Rock Candy Mountain, (it is one of the songs on the soundtrack “O Brother Where Art Thou,” but I digress). Some sing in that wishful hope that a big rock candy mountain is just around the bend and say: when my babies can walk…when they go to school…when they graduate…when I get promoted…when I retire…when these changes take place everything will be better. Meanwhile, discontent stirs and change unfurls its surprises.
To be content is to trust that God will provide the security and strength to meet the change you are facing. Listen to Paul the Apostle’s words to the church in Philippi:
…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have…I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (4:11-13)
We walk this earth gently and we hold all things loosely and in all and through all of life’s changes God sojourns with us bringing about Holy transformation.
Being transformed with you,