This past week I found myself quarantined. It seems as though there have been several spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases in….well, just about everywhere. So, as I wait upon my move from God, I am currently living with my daughter, her husband and my granddaughter, Avery. Not wanting to expose them to anything I may have picked up along my outside journeys, I was asked to self-quarantine, just in case. Thankfully, this was more of a precaution, and not an actual necessity, but it is good to practice things before they become necessary. I am a strong believer of an ounce of prevention being much more valuable than a pound of cure.
Let me introduce you to Avery as she is the inspiration of today’s message. Avery is my long-awaited firstborn grandchild. She and Jayden, my grandson, from my youngest daughter, are what I call my perfect set of twins. Now for anyone who has experienced grandparenthood, you will totally understand the following statement. My grandchildren are gifts from God and each of them are special in their very own way. For instance, Avery says that when she grows up she wants to be a fairy. However, from what I know about fairies, I think she has already accomplished this goal from the way she spreads joy wherever she wanders about. In fact, Avery is so magical and mystical to me, that I call her my little hummingbird. It’s funny, she used to resist this description but as of late, I find her often reminding me that she is my little hummingbird as a sign of her acceptance of the title. Interestingly though, prior to giving Avery the name “hummingbird”, I was not familiar with its symbolism. Then one day I was prompted to do a little Google search and was amazed at what I found.
It seems as though the hummingbird symbolizes enjoyment of life, prosperity, freedom and good luck. Now, while, I don’t believe in luck, good or otherwise, I, as a Spiritual Psychologist, can easily get on board with the other attributes and can see how the moniker of hummingbird fits her perfectly. Something else I noticed in this 4 year old Godsend is her uncanny emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, for those of you who may not be familiar, is the ability to understand and regulate not only your own emotions but to be able to accurately recognize and appropriately respond to the emotions of others, and is becoming a well sought after quality in the occupational fields. Emotional intelligence is becoming such an important characteristic in the development of social skills that several children’s programs have segments geared toward teaching children these skills. They do this by having young children identify the various facial expressions of others and guessing what their emotions are. Avery is extremely adept at doing this and as a result enjoys it. Realizing that she likes guessing emotions, she and I will play a game where I will give her a blank face just to see how she will respond and she always asks, in her inquisitive voice, “What’s that face?” She knows that it doesn’t seem to match any of the faces that she is familiar with and as so, she doesn’t know which emotional response she has elicited in me and that challenges her emotional intelligence.
So during my time of quarantine, I began to feel like what I imagine the lepers of Biblical times must have felt. I was completely cut off from the family. I could hear their laughter, but I wasn’t apart of it. I wasn’t permitted to share meals, which is so ironic, in that, we rarely sat down as a family and ate together, doing this indicates a special occasion, but because I had to go out and get my meals and bring them back and eat them alone, I felt isolated and quarantine began to bring about a type of depression that I had not known to exist. Did I happen to mention that this went on for a total of 4 days, 4 DAYS….I could not even bear being quarantined for 4 days, when the exposure period for those who have been truly infected or exposed to the virus is 14 days. This is time for both a praise break for myself and prayer for others who are not practicing (or probably a better word in my case pretending) quarantine because it is hard. I thank God, that I can not imagine what it must be like for those who are not only suffering physically, but must suffer socially as a result of this insatiable virus. But in the midst of my suffering, which as I reflect and place things in their proper perspective, I realize, that my suffering was merely an inconvenience compared to the real sufferings of this world. But through it all, I was shown mercy, a kindness that will forever endear my granddaughter to me for the remainder of my life.
Having found myself on the isle of Patmos, ok, maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, I was comfortably resting in my in-law suite which covers the entire fourth level of my daughter’s home, I found sitting on one of the bottom stairs to my suite, a Teddy Bear. I recognized this as being one of Avery’s favorite Teddy Bears that she often brings with her when she comes to visit. Imagine my change of heart having found this little treasure left by my hummingbird. I took the bear with me and placed it on my pillow and somehow had the sweetest dreams imaginable. The next morning, Avery coming upon the displacement of the Teddy Bear asked had I received it, and after telling her yes, she said, she wanted me to have sweet dreams. She wanted me to dream of butterflies, rainbows and unicorns. Butterflies, rainbows and unicorns. I imagine to a 4 year old, tutu wearing Princess, these are the things sweet dreams are made of. Little does she know that each of her components have their own symbolism and backstory and some of them aren’t so sweet.
For example, did you know that in order to become a butterfly, it requires a painstaking experience? It’s true, a butterfly starts out as an egg and from that fertilized egg, a larva, or caterpillar will form. We have all at some point or another, seen a caterpillar, and I tell you this little creepy crawler does not make for a sweet dream. In fact, his appearance tends to scare quite a few. While a caterpillar looks forward to becoming a butterfly, he must feed upon the shell that once encased him and continue eating so much that he has to molt or shed his skin 4 to 5 times over. How excruciating does that sound? Once this stage is complete, the butterfly becomes a pupa, in which, he undergoes metamorphosis…metamorphosis in insects is pretty similar to adolescence in humans, and we all remember how painful that is for everyone involved. Finally, after enduring all this transformation, a butterfly emerges to grace us with his beauty. As I reflect on the story of the butterfly, I am infused with hope. A butterfly has to get through many obstacles before becoming what he has been purposed to become, yet he endures to the end, and if that is not the epitome of hope, I don’t know what is.
The second component of Avery’s sweet dream blessing was rainbows. We are all familiar with rainbows. The array of colors portrayed in them have made them vulnerable to becoming associated with various groups or advertising strategies. For example, in 1935, the first in what was to become a chain of retail stores under the name of Rainbow began selling female apparel. In 1964, General Mills adopted the rainbow as Lucky the Leprechaun became their spokesman for the cereal that was so magically delicious. And as recently, as 1978 and even still, the LGBT community uses the rainbow to represent them. Good thing God doesn’t copyright. He is the original creator of the rainbow. He created the rainbow as a reminder of a promise He made to Noah after having displayed His anger by wiping out His sinful creation via the Great Flood. After the flood, God relented and promised to never punish the earth this way again. And it is through His Rainbow, that we are to be reminded of this. Consequently, it is with every rainbow that we actually see now, as in the beginning, there must be some rain preceding it…Hence, as I think of rainbows, I am reminded of love. The love God has for us is so deep that He would be willing to not only make us a promise, but to gives us a symbol of said promise.
The last ingredient in the recipe for sweet dreams is unicorns. Unicorns are mythical animals, meaning no one has ever seen one. They are purported to resemble horses and have one spiraling horn protruding from their head. Some are winged, some have magical powers, but one thing that seems to be consistent, is they are and remain to be a mainstay of childhood. As we grow older, and realize that unicorns do not exist, we still need to have a mainstay, and that mainstay becomes faith. So you see, as Avery, shared her recipe with me for sweet dreams, she unbeknownst shared the recipe for abundant living. Each of her ingredients equate with one of the 3 ingredients found in I Corinthians 13:13, And now these 3 remain, love, faith and hope, and the greatest of these is love…Beloved, my prayer is this, that on today, and everyday to come that you have hope and the faith to bring it to pass and above all that you love, and love like today is your last day to do so, because one day it just very well might be. Sweet dreams, Dr. Bibia:-)