We walked past a cottage the other day.  The name the family had given to it was the “Shady Nook”.  While it is most likely that they chose this name because they view their place as a cool corner where the family comes to escape the summer heat, my mind immediately nuanced the name in a different direction.  The next time we walk by, I will test my definition by stopping in to see if anyone in the family has a half-dozen “genuine Rolex” watches for sale from their wrist.

When you saw that the topic today is “Chilling Nuance,” you may well have thought about how the feel of fall is in the air.  I am writing this from Houghton Lake, where the temperature reached a high of 52 on Wednesday (as it had for most of the week).  And in every landscape, we see at least one tree covered in red.  However, rather than thinking about the chill in the air, my mind is focused upon a different kind of chill that our world seems to be lacking.

Over the past six months, Monica and I have done more binge TV watching than I ever dreamed I would be interested in.  We just finished a four-season series – The Killing – where the central characters made me gag in almost every episode.  Dysfunction was the one unifying theme of every individual’s family background.  It was the blatant lying that really drove me nuts – everyone lying not only to others, but simultaneously to themselves.  I was disgusted with the characters (and heartbroken by their utter spiritual depravity) but could not pull myself away from the series!

Last night we watched the first few episodes of a Netflix series – Heartland.  My prayer is that it does not turn out to be as painful as the last series … my brother tells me season 12 is right around the corner.  A few steps into the first season has me hopeful.  The characters appear to be at least a little bit willing to face their issues … which, unfortunately is more than I tend to see in the (non-fictitious) society in which we live.

I just finished reading “The Big Sort” (Bill Bishop).  Though written back in 2009 it accurately describes much of what I see happening today.  One individual he interviews calls it “idea segregation.”  Here is his concluding paragraph: “The message people living in a democracy must understand, more than any other message, is that there are Americans who aren’t just like you.  They don’t live like you, they don’t have families like yours, and they don’t think like you.  They may not live in your neighborhood, but this is their country, too.”

Peter Steinke calls our current times an “Uproar”.  “Under the siege of Uproar, our thinking capacities decline.  We even use reason to justify the irrational.  Our trusty inventory of opinions is imperiled.  Truth is put on a seesaw; suspicion is over-seeded.  Polarized groups find it difficult to converse without wielding emotional hatchets.  Explosive tantrums throw respect to the wind.  Ethics are stored in the attic – ‘out of sight, out of mind’.  God is reduced to a candy machine, easily nickled and dimed.  Buffeted by lies, stable folks lose confidence in reality.  Normal has become a backseat driver.” (Uproar, pp. 3-4.  Rowman & Littlefield.  2019)

Now, my word for the day is “chill” … not as the weather has a November feel to it, nor as many in our world are turning a cold shoulder to those who disagree with them.  Rather, “chill” as I read it on the internet! “A chill person doesn’t feel the need to follow all the trends set by others … This laid-back attitude inspires others to be more laid-back and people will want to be around you more often.”  Chill, as in drop all your anger and all your fears, and focus upon enjoying and sharing the blessings we have in Christ Jesus.

He puts it this way, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3.12-16).

Now, don’t think for a moment I am talking about throwing your masks away or any similar uncaring action.  What I am talking about is being a rational, attentive peace-maker.  You see somehow, I believe, the Spirit plans to use you and me, in this hostile and abrasive world, to bring his chilling nuance of compassion into the uproar.

Chilling Nuance