I was so tempted to change the tablecloth in my kitchen this week. I have continued my mother’s practice of having seasonal decorations throughout the house and after living with the bright summer-yellow tablecloth these past few months, I wondered if it was time to move on to the autumn themed table covering. After all, the neighborhood kids went back to school, the nights are getting cooler, and the sun is setting sooner.
Yet I’m reluctant to acknowledge the change of seasons. Though the pools are closed, the trees are still green, the summer flowers are still in prolific bloom and the daily gift of garden tomatoes tell me it’s not quite the time to change the colors inside.
We’re in the awkward in-between time where there are mixed signals with regard to the seasons, but this is not unlike the life moments where there are also mixed signals, and the mixed feelings that come along with the decision to change.
One generation faces questions such as: It is time to stop driving? Is it time to downsize the house? Is it time to hire an aide? An earlier generation asks: Is it time to retire? Do we leave Long Island for a less expensive place to live? When are we going to get around to making a will? A younger generation asks questions about raising children, evaluating career paths, home remodeling, and car purchases. Still younger folks concern themselves with choices of schools and careers.
These moments can be times of anxiety and paralysis or times of adventure and hope. We think, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a playbook to let us know when to change and what direction is best for us?” While such a book doesn’t exist, we can find guidance from the wise people in our lives. We live in an age where we can research things online in minutes. And there is a source of wisdom that exists throughout the generations, a source I often turn to when considering change.
You won’t be surprised to know that I turn to prayer when I need to figure out what’s a good direction to take. Some people are reluctant to pray when they need guidance because they are afraid that God will be annoyed that they only turn for divine guidance when they need something. They approach God with embarrassment, or forego praying altogether because of a sense of guilt that they haven’t been going to church or synagogue. This notion of the “disapproving God” is so far from the truth.
Imagine you had a child who rarely turned to you for advice or support. And then he or she finally reached out to you. Would you look the other way, or joyfully give whatever guidance that was sought? Most parents would feel validated and complete when their children turn to them. So much more with God. God waits for us to reach out and rejoices when we do so — especially when we do more listening than talking.
If your child called you for advice, and spent the whole time telling you of the problem, and then hung up before you got to share your support and wisdom, you would feel quite frustrated. The fruit of prayer comes when we are open to listening to divine guidance. We can be surprised by the wisdom that comes from above, if only we develop our heart to listen and hear what God wants us to know.
I’m not going spend a lot of time seeking out divine direction with regards to my kitchen table cloth, but as I face other changes in my life, you can be sure I’ll be seeking and listening.