Last week I wrote about the stress of going shopping in Elkhart County and being recognized. Can you imagine being President of the United States?
I am filled with gratitude when I remember my childhood training on the topic of presidents. Wednesday night prayer meetings and even many meal prayers were incomplete without praying for President Bush or President Clinton, or, in farther reaches of my memory, President Reagan. My dad was well-read, and despite the decision to avoid TV and radio, he was well-informed. He had a deep respect for the office of President of the United States, but I don’t ever recall him looking to any of them for his security. He believed the Bible to be the Word of God, and that following it would likely be unpopular to any political persuasion. If you believe, for instance, that the Bible teaches that re-marriage after divorce is wrong and that you should love your enemies, two things Jesus was clear about, you will–like Jesus–not fit in too well with any political party. Most Republicans, it seems to me, support the Bible until it conflicts with their agenda. Most Democrats, it seems to me, support accepting all people, until those people conflict with their agenda. So, in my childhood, we prayed for them.
How much more relevant now!
“I can’t stand either candidate,” was the most neutral comment in the last election. In the last decade I’ve heard numbers of incensed conversations about presidents and parties, from people on all sides. I’ve developed a revulsion for such conversations, at least from Christians. I can see why people who don’t know hope in Christ might cling to this or that political leader, just as the people did in Jesus’ time.
I think maybe my strongest emotion for any U.S. President is deep sympathy. I mean, who would want that job, that life? To not have the autonomy to go alone to the grocery store? That is psychological poverty, in my opinion.
One evening earlier this week, I said, “It’s kind of nice having something nicer than what Bill Gates has.” Bill Gates came to mind, but President Trump would have been applicable. “I’m sure he doesn’t have an office he likes better than I like mine.”
“You’re a mess,” Marnell observed from the kitchen where he was installing a carbon monoxide detector.
In our living room, two windows meet in a corner that is wider than a right angle, like an ancient bay window. The trim is bumpy and scarred with frequent re-paintings. A student-size computer desk fits perfectly against the window and between the other two pieces of furniture beside the window. A folding chair fits perfectly beside it. You could argue that it’s really not even an office. I argue that it’s nicer than any office anywhere (including the Oval Office), because I love it more.
“We could move the couch if you want more room,” Marnell suggested.
“I don’t want more room,” I said. Why mess with perfection?
When it’s hot and the sun turns the corner into a greenhouse, I can open the air conditioning vent under the desk. When it’s cold and the frigid air wants to creep through the windows, I can prop my feet on the heating vent. The window curtains are hung on hinged rods that swing out, to reveal the full expanse of the sky and earth and neighbors on the other side of the glass. I move the curtains beside and behind me instead of in front of me and I feel the same thrill of the mysterious as I did when we were children making tents in the living room with an old blanket thrown over a card table.
The sky is the lovely, resurrected blue only seen in springtime. Our ornamental willow, beneath the window, is sending off green and pink shoots. The tulips are already past, but the roses and hydrangeas will be coming soon. On the sidewalk, the neighbor cat prowls by like a spirit, and Jen stomps home because I have no work for her today. Birds chirp, inspiring me to buy a feeder. A green truck drives by, going the wrong way on the one-way. A black squirrel makes small jumps across the cement across the street, balancing each movement with his impressive tail.
Around the corner, our community garden is taking shape, thanks to Larry and Eric who brought topsoil, and Devon and Lynn who loaned equipment and provided duck mulch. The spectators and volunteers are showing up, and I’m reminded that on some days, President Trump (or any of his predecessors) would probably give anything to disappear to a little garden and pass out geranium plants, and try to plan how to keep it from getting flattened by vandalism, and how best to get the various cultures and languages involved, and what to do if people just show up for ice cream. It would be a little bit like his job now, but more fun.
I invited President Trump to come plant a geranium since he was only a mile away, but he said a community garden was too socialistic for him. Just kidding. But I’ve been reminded to pray for him. And in a few years, if one of his arch-rival takes office, may I keep right on praying.
P. S. Any tips on a good bird feeder or where to buy one?