4 Questions to Protect Yourself

Our family has been on a mission ever since Monday.  Monday afternoon at precisely 2:20 PM, I look out at my beautiful garden and smile at the huge squash, the cauliflower, the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the eggplant, the herbs.

Then, I see him.  He’s literally looking up at me with a smirk on his face, holding a juicy cucumber between his paws.  I start screaming and waving my arms in front of the window.  I run like a mad woman down the stairs and out into the yard.  The groundhog merely saunters off and finds refuge under our back porch.  He’s huge.  He must look like this groundhog by now.  He’s eaten all my cauliflower, stripped the green beans, destroyed the squash, and decimated the cucumber.

We gather the family together and set up garden surveillance. My children watch from the window and begin making a list of questions like:

1. How does the thief enter?
2. When does he come?
3. What attracts him to the garden?
4. What will keep him out?

My dear, dear husband puts up a beautiful fence that very night.  But the thief knows how to tear through the wooden fence.  He can also dig underneath it.  So my dear, dear husband returns from the store with chicken wire that buries deep into the ground and ascends up high around the garden.

Finally, we can sleep easy.  What’s left of the garden can grown in peace and produce a bountiful crop.

All day, I’ve been considering the vigilance of our family against this intruder.  It was silly.  But what isn’t silly is real threats against the garden of my own heart and the hearts of my family members.  Scripture teaches us that there’s an enemy of our souls, and my daughters’ list of questions sparked a new awareness of ways I protect myself from “anything that contaminates body and spirit.”  That groundhog contaminated our garden, and we found a way to protect it.  We learned to recognize the how, the when, and the why of harmful intruders.  When things intrude and contaminate my own heart, might I ask myself that list of questions and devise a plan to ensure safe growth and a bountiful crop in my life?  What must go deep and ascend high about my life to ward off spiritual, physical, and emotional contaminates?

Living with flair means I protect and defend against contamination when I need to.


Bring on the Whimsy

This morning, I saw my neighbor’s dog, Murphy, walking in a bright yellow doggie raincoat. He stood up on his back paws and greeted me, looking more human than canine. Then, I saw a little girl carrying an umbrella shaped like a dragon over her head . Huge pointing scales, triangular and menacing, slithered down her back. I felt like I had temporarily entered some whimsical world where dogs act civilized in bright yellow rain gear and little girls enjoy the protection of dragons atop their heads. I looked up just in case an owl should swoop down to deliver my mail.

Why do whimsical things delight us so much? Why do we recite The Jabberwocky or go see Alice in Wonderland and Avatar? Why are we so entranced by the world of Hogwarts or Narnia or Neverland?

The little dog turned human or the girl with her dragon ripped open the rational world for me this morning. All at once, I thought of a fantasy world, an alternate reality existing parallel to my own. In this world, the rules are all different. It’s the Mad Hatter’s tea party on this side of things, and I barely know how to get my footing. It’s dangerous, weird, and most of all, wonderful.

Whimsy refers to something playfully odd, something unpredictable, childish, and given more to imagination than reason or experience. Whimsy indicates a suspension of the rational and predictable. It opens a doorway into another realm, another way of thinking.

In this way, whismy helps my spiritual growth.  It’s a whisper of the supernatural.

Whimsy and fantasy—the odd, the seemingly impossible–give spiritual truth a plausibility structure. I want to encourage the type of living where we can believe in what we cannot fully fathom. Whimsy, which makes me stop and reconsider, tears apart the structure of my otherwise orderly and rational day. And in that sliver of space—that wrinkle in time—a life of faith blooms.

So bring on the dogs in raincoats, the dragon umbrellas, the fantastical, and the absurd. We are made for more than we can imagine, and to stop and consider it—the flair of it—ushers in the spiritual.

Whismy lets in the crack of light that pushes me onward to truth. Living with flair means I consider the crack of light. It opens my eyes to another reality–the kind of reality where God tries to get my attention through the out-of-the ordinary thing.  Living with flair means to be attentive enough to see and respond.