• cherylsilver

A SIGN FOR THE TIMES by Ellen Donker

It helps me check in with my soul

It’s fall and by now I thought I’d be writing about easier times. But as the pandemic is still with us and so many of us were flooded by Ida and schools started later than planned, the air seems heavy. Half a life ago, I had asthma and I remember that it felt like a brick was on my chest – that it was hard to breathe deeply. That’s how I feel now.


Yet we are all still carrying on. During and after the flooding, neighbors texted each other for updates; SOMA Loungers offered sound advice to those watching raw sewage erupt from their sinks and toilets; others pulled out their mops and towels and shop vacs to help friends clean up basements and haul sodden furniture and debris to the curb. This is what we do, and in Maplewood and South Orange we are particularly good at helping our neighbors.


In my kitchen I have a felt board that came with plastic letters for making a sign. I like to change the message on it to make my family laugh. Often it is from Skipper, my cat. (We do a lot of pet humor in our house.) Or it might feature a welcome home message when one of the kids returns from college.


About six months into the pandemic when we were past spending our days trying to mastermind grocery deliveries but still hunkered down in a pre-vaccinated world, I changed the sign to read, “The Lord Provides,” and it has stayed that way ever since.


For me, it’s a reminder of my foundation and an invitation to breathe deeply. And for my family it’s a statement about what we hold true. With the verb in the present tense (provides instead of provided, or will provide), it speaks to me as an acknowledgement of the “right now,” and what already has been, as well as reassurance for what’s next, be they hard times or good times.

It’s hope. And it gives me courage.


At some point I’ll change the message on the board. But the timing isn’t right yet. I still need the reminder that it is well with my soul: that I am cared for regardless of the turmoil around us and the plans that continue to be turned upside down. The pandemic and Ida and life’s uncertainties are no match for a promise like this.


We all have our sources of hope – the “something” that gets us out of bed each morning, ready to show up for another day of life. What gives you hope? What keeps you positive? What invites you to continue to notice beauty in the world?


Promise me you will keep looking for that beauty, because it’s all around us. And while we may have different ways of finding it, we all need to remember to breathe deeply, and know that it is well in the depths of our souls.