Yesterday, for the first time in 40 years I didn’t read the local morning paper. For my parents, reading the morning paper was a ritual and demonstrated that you were educated and refined, keeping up with worldly news and able to perform reasonably on the daily crossword puzzle.
A few weeks ago, I’d reflected on the first 15 minutes of my day when I pour my first cup of coffee and ponder over the morning news. But what I found upon reflection was pretty grim. I learned of school teachers who had been suspended for inappropriate conduct, a rising opioid crisis in Tennessee, and the kidnapping of a 15-year old by her teacher who had abducted her and taken her across state lines. Even the global news wasn’t encouraging: a bombing in a European country and death of two soldiers by friendly fire.
I realized then that I was neither being informed or nourished by the morning paper. I cancelled my subscription effective April 30.
So Sunday was my last delivered paper. On Monday morning I still made my morning cup of coffee but I spent my newfound 15 minutes completing my required osteoarthritis exercises as well as getting in an extra Bible devotion on the internet. It seemed like a more relaxing way to spend my first 15 minutes of awake time in the morning.
This was reinforced by the sermon I heard at the 0700 service yesterday by the Rev. Roger Senechal. He preached on Psalm 119:37:
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
I realized that although I care about worldly affairs and the plight of others, I am often unable to do anything to alleviate their discomfort or pain. Instead, it has just caused me more anxiety throughout the day.
I know that I have plenty of people in my daily worklife, church, and acquaintances that could use my encouragement. I need to turn my eyes from looking at worthless things and instead turn my eyes to those that I am surrounded by, to see where I might better serve where I am planted.
The news is grim, but it mustn’t paralyze me in my compassion. There is plenty to do in our local neighborhoods and communities to make the world a better place.
I pray that we can all recognize and turn away from “worthless things”, concentrating our love where we live.