What could be better than a three-day escape to the North Carolina Outer Banks? Holding off on vacation plans a few summers ago, Sharon and I decided to book such an escape in late September. We arrived in the late afternoon of the only sunny day that week. Rough weather moved in with intermittent rain, high wind, heavy surf, and flooding in low-lying areas. There was not much opportunity to do “beachy” things.
Feeling crushed, we decided to make the best of the situation. From the balcony of our fourth floor ocean view room, we basked in the luminary brilliance of sunrises that cast prismatic brilliance through the clouds and across the ocean surface. The storms didn’t prevent us from enjoying wonderful seafood. It was also exciting to see how coastal life goes on regardless of weather. That was especially true with one man who stood several hours every day, his feet buried in the frothy foam of receding breakers, surf fishing. Although we never saw him catch anything, he exuded a sense of solitary contentment.
Fast forward. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Sharon and I have been staying home as much as possible, wearing masks and gloves when we do go out. For several weeks we did a lot of catch-up house cleaning, then I felt an urge to do a series of Pandemic Paintings I could share online. I have been an artist all my life. After retiring, I pursued art as a business until the Great Recession impacted the market. Gradually I moved away from painting. It feels good to come back.
Recalling the Outer Banks surf fisherman, I made his seaside venture the subject of my fourth Pandemic Painting. I titled it “Perseverance,” because I see in him a message for our time. As we experience raging storms of a deadly virus, explosive racial tensions, and global warming challenges, perseverance seems like a worthy watchword.
Persevere. Press on. Fan flames of hope for times of healing to follow the ravages of the three-way pandemics through which we’re living. I find the roots of that idea in scripture. During a time of suffering the Apostle Paul wrote about finding peace amidst discord and uncertainty. He counseled that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
That’s persevering by being centered beyond ourselves, beyond our circumstances, beyond imponderable forces that threaten us. If there was ever a time for people of faith to persevere, it is now. Keep casting your faith into stormy seas, trusting in the God of love who is greater than all contrary forces.