The Perspective of Looking Up

looking up

“After Jesus had said this and while they (Jesus’ disciples) were watching, he was taken up into a cloud. They could not see him, but as he went up, they kept looking up into the sky.” Acts 1:9-10

Four years ago we moved to our present home that is near the base of the foothills. Since then a number of new homes have filled the space between us and where the hills start going up. Yet, on most days of the year, all we have to do is look out our window and look up at these (mostly) splendorous “little mountains!”

What a gift God has given us to live in this place and be a part of God’s creation that in a moment can bring joy to our lives!

Yet on many days in this time I discover myself wallowing in all of the fears and worries brought into our lives by the pandemic. And then I do not spend enough time looking up.

I wonder if Jesus’ disciples grasped what a gift he left to them that Ascension Day in that the last glimpse they had of his person was there as they stood looking up.

To me, when I stop to think of it, the gift of being able to look up at rolling foothills so much more expansive and majestic than I am is the gift of perspective, a gift that I need to keep close by these days much more than I do.

Perspective frees me from seeing my life only through the way in which the life I am living affects me. In The Book of Joy, Bishop Desmond Tutu told of dealing with his frustration as he was caught in a traffic jam by taking on the perspectives of those around him. He wondered if the person who cut him off might be rushing to the hospital because his wife was giving birth or because a loved one was dying. As he considered the many situations around him that might be fraught with worries and fears, he lifted up a prayer, “Please, God, give each of them what they need.”

“The very fact of not thinking about your own frustration and pain does something,” Tutu went on to say. “I don’t know why. But it makes you feel much better. And I think it has therapeutic consequences for your own health physical and spiritual.”

As I look at the life I am living right now, I recognize that there are some experiences of nurturing relationships and going freely about daily activities that I cannot do (at least for a time). Yet, if I pause, look up, and consider all of those things I still can do, I am humbled. I realize there is still so much that I can do that fulfills the life God gives me to live. I can find ways to bless others. I can be generous in sharing my life and resources in ways that I still can do. I can see opportunities now that have never appeared to me before to contribute goodness to the lives of others and this world.

It makes a difference to be able to look up, take a deep breath, perhaps catch a new thought of touching someone (at a distance), and say with Bishop Tutu, “Please God, give each of them what they need.”

I hope you can discover ways in your life in this time to gain perspective and see God lifting you and showing you ways to reframe your life positively to bless others and sense God’s loving care for you.

Prayer...

Gracious God, help us all find moments and ways to look beyond ourselves to find perspective in this time.  From all of the pain and suffering many are feeling, let us see there are still many good and helpful ways we can respond to be a part of your healing and goodness.  Keep us all sheltered in your love every day.  Amen. 

Keith Hammer

Keith Hammer

Retired ELCA Pastor

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Penelope

    I’m reading Book of Joy right now. It’s lovely. I do recommend it.

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