Joel and I recently watched a news segment about wine being grown in Tuscany. It had drawn national interest because of what they use to grow sweeter and bigger grapes. Their secret? The music they play in the vineyards. Classical music plays and the vines and grapes respond in a positive way. The vines even grow towards the sound, leaning in to it so to speak. One man decided to play music over his well cared for vineyard and they responded. For what ever reasons they responded....this one act by one man changed how vines produced. Scientists are now studying this phenomenon. I love it!
Sunday morning I watched a story about a "crusty old man" who had befriended a horse. The horse was not eating well, so he was slowly wasting away. The man spent a great deal of time getting him to eat and discovered in the process that he had stopped eating because he was so lonely. Once this elderly man gave him attention and the horse learned to trust him, they became friends. The horse lived and thrived. Later when the man had a heart attack, he was weak and struggling to recover....but he credits the horse with getting him moving again, with giving him purpose. They continue to be best friends.
Another story on CBS Sunday Morning caught my attention also. A man who works as a repo guy is is known as a "guardian angel: and wears that label proudly. He discovered when he was repossessing peoples cars, etc. that there were a lot of tragic stories attached to them. The morning show shared about one couple where the wife was having to help her husband in the early stages of Alzheimer's. They had so many medications to buy they could not afford the payments on their 1998 car and the guardian angel came to repossess it. When he heard the story, he called the bank, was able to keep the car for the couple, and then start a go fund page. He ended up paying the car off and giving the couple money to help them stay afloat.
What do these stories have in common? Well, besides seeing God interwoven in all three, it tells me how important it is to connect. Even the grapevines seem to need connection and responded to music being played over them. That may be a stretch, but what happened is truly amazing. The horse thrived when he was no longer lonely. And the heart of one man changed the lives of two others just because he took the time to reach out to a struggling elderly couple.
Saturday morning we listened to Brene' Brown's widely watched TED talk on vulnerability. It has been viewed over 27 million times and resonates in the hearts of those who listen. She learned in her decade of research about our basic need to connect. Kris Vallotton carries it a step further stating that we have been created for connection with God. It is really the way God made us, with the desire to belong to Him and with others.
When I watched Pastor Householder preach at Lutheran Church of Hope Sunday morning, his sermon was about......you guessed it! Connection and our need to do life together. I had to laugh as God impressed on me one more time the importance of this message. I love when God brings something to my attention over and over.
Needless to say, after praying for a word to focus on this year.....reflecting on both rest and breakthrough.....I am settling right down in the midst of the word BELONGING. It was six months ago we left a church we enjoyed very much because we felt like we could not fully be ourselves there. We were trying to fit it....instead of belonging. A great church, but not a great connection for us. As Joel has worked like an itinerant pastor over the past many months, we struggle with not belonging anywhere permanently. We don't have a church home. Our community has always been found in a church. For many people their community gathers in school, neighborhood, a local coffee shop, the theater, or even a bar, but for us it has always been a church, so we now are missing that major part of our lives. Belonging has become a priority. We believe that God is guiding us to a place where we will belong.
Has God given you a word to focus on this year? We are looking forward to what God brings to mind in 2017 concerning this word.....and I'm not forgetting about the words rest and breakthrough either. Somehow they are all connected. And there is that word again!
Connections are so vital to our well being. Everyone needs a sense of belonging. Whether we have a connection to others through our work, through an animal like a horse, through our neighborhoods, our families, our friends, or through our church communities, the need is there and God is willing to be a part of it. He created us for connection with Him and others. A place where we feel we belong, a peaceful place to be.