Queen Elizabeth II reigned as the British monarch for just over 70 years, from 1952 until her death in 2022. She was ‘my’ Queen once I moved to England as a bride.
Britain is known for its polished rituals of pomp and circumstance – Trooping the Colour for the monarch’s birthday, changing guards at Buckingham Palace (cf. A.A.Milne’s poem), royal weddings, royal funerals – and coronations. The Queen’s oldest son, now known as King Charles III, got his big turn in the spotlight on a rainy 6 May 2023. His mother’s coronation was the first ever to be televised; Charles’ coronation was watched online in countries around the world – maybe you watched it. It was definitely a religious ceremony, a service of worship with holy communion and a coronation. Its traditional rituals, garments and accompanying regalia – orb, scepters, jewel-encrusted swords of justice and of mercy, historic crowns – are full of symbolism, and the service was full of solemn oaths, prayers and declarations. “I come not to be served, but to serve,” vowed Charles at the start of the ceremony.
In Sunday School recently, my kids learned about the manna that the Lord provided for the children of Israel while they wandered the wilderness (Exodus 16). They got to glue puffed rice “manna” to their coloring pages and got to gather this same manna into cups to enjoy as a snack. I noticed that my son had not one, but two cups full of manna, and I gently scolded him for taking more than he needed—which was exactly what the children of Israel were told NOT to do. He grinned at me and said, “But I’m pretending tomorrow is the Sabbath. That means I had to gather twice as much.” Clever kiddo.
This sweet and somewhat silly interaction with my son reminded me of my personal struggles with excess. I have serious FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to a number of opportunities. Sales are one example. I can’t stand missing a good deal. I also struggle with eating more than I need. I don’t just have a sweet tooth—I have a mouthful of sweet teeth. I also tend to pile too much on my plate in a more figurative sense: sometimes I have a really hard time saying “no” to things I want (or believe I need) to do.
I think this is a normal pitfall for a lot of us. After all, the Lord urges us to pursue a life of use. That often translates to a desire to jump on any service project that comes along. The school play needs costumes? I’ll make them! A working parent needs help with child care? Add your kid to my zoo—the more the merrier! My local congregation needs after-church refreshments? I can make cookies! Life offers so many chances to help our neighbors—but we simply can’t juggle all of them single or even double-handedly.
We’ve probably all been told that a thousand times over, for as long as we can remember.… and we’ve probably all done a decent job of it, right? –but have we done a good job?
This principle smacked me in the face, recently, in the arena of modern medicine. I enjoy dabbling in alternative approaches to healthcare – homeopathy, acupuncture, ayurveda, to mention a few examples. I’ve been a big fan of babies since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. (If you’ve followed this blog for a while, or have perused old articles, you might recall my statement in a July 2015 piece: “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be just like you: nothing.” This, if you aren’t fluent in kid-speak, meant that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, as opposed to a career woman; I wanted to stay home with babies of my own!)
In the late ’90s I thought about becoming a midwife – another somewhat alternative, albeit historically traditional, healthcare modality, at least in North America – but abandoned that ship when I realised that it would conflict more with my own family life than I wanted it to. When that didn’t pan out, I considered becoming a doula – a woman who mothers the mother through her pregnancy, childbirth and early days postpartum – but left that by the wayside, too, to focus on my own family. In late 2021, though, after years of mothering and fighting the doula bug, I finally bit the bullet, took the bull by the horns and decided that I was ready and that doula-ing really was my calling.
I’ve spent a lot of my life waking up feeling stressed and burdened. Before I opened my eyes I felt the strain of the day ahead of me. I woke up already feeling defeated.
In the last few years that has shifted. Through a variety of tactics, mental shifts, and skills gained I can often wake up with a much lighter mood. There was a stretch of time when I would wake up and feel light and cheerful – at least as cheery as can be expected at 6 AM. Some days I even felt surprised at my own happy vibe!
But there’s been a lot of change and upheaval in my life in the last year and a bit and I’ve noticed the heavy, stressed, bogged-down wake up feeling creeping back in. I was noticing that recently when I heard about someone making an effort to read the Bible first thing in the morning as a way of inviting the Lord into their day, rather than going on social media.
I was pondering this idea and thinking about how that could maybe help, and maybe I should try to find a way to make time for that……I was waffling. But I thought maybe it would make a small difference to my beginning mood. I decided to think about it.
Then I heard a sermon by Derek Elphick about the story of Naaman: