A recent trip to an amusement park with my grandchidren bought parallel to our current situation I like a fast, swirling rides but I don’t do upside down and am not a fan of the “ship”. You know the wide, long, boat shaped ride that swings like a pendulum back and forth. I successfully avoided it for two rides until the little puppy-dog eyes and sad voice saying “please, please ride with me,” persuaded me to get in the boat. I have discovered a successful way to ride those rides that scare me. Fix your eyes on one spot in the car and never waver while you are flung to and fro. Don’t look outside the ride, keep your eyes lasered on one spot. On this particular experience, I was seated facing a little boy about six years old who was terrified, not scared, terrified, His eyes were wide and bulging and his face frozen in fear. As the ride gained speed and height, he wailed and turned his head from right to left. Over the din, I shouted, “Look at me, look at me.” He stared at me across the safety bar. “Just look at me,” I shouted again. “Don’t look outside or around , just look at me.” For a few seconds he and I rode peacefully with eyes locked; almost unaware of the movement and the laughter around us. Then he looked above my head and started screaming again. He gripped the safety bar and buried his head in his mom’s arm. The ride was over but not soon enough for he and I.
The first parallel is clear. In the midst of a wild ride that terrifies us and the wonder if it will ever end, we have to focus our eyes on one thing. Jesus. In the midst of Covid, riots, upcoming elections, “distance learning” misadventures; turn your eyes upon Jesus. The things that terrify us become strangely dim. The old chorus has more meaning today than every before. I love Francesca Battistelli’s take on this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjmZ2v0niCI
However a second application occurred to me. As I became aware of the little boy across from me and his fear, I focused on him and his needs. In the wild ride of our moment, I noticed someone else who seemed to be in more need than I. I found my deliverance from fear in looking at his fear and striving to help him. We are surrounded by those who are in worse situations than we. Many of those around us have no hope, no where to look for peace. When we focus on the needs of others, our fears seem more manageable.
In the midst of our current crisis, upcoming election and social unrest, I’m going to remember that boat ride and that little boy.
I’m thinkin today about focusing on Jesus and others.