There is a scene in the film Count of Monte Cristo that triggers fear in me . . . even now . It has been years since I saw the movie. I remember the close confines of the dungeon’s rock walls. One small window. Edmund Dantes’s 6 years of solitary confinement . . .
I can barely breathe.
What is it about confinement we dislike?
Then there are my bluebird houses. The interior floor space is a mere 5 x 5 inches or 12.7 x 12.7 centimeters (for my European readers). That is just enough space to accommodate an entire brood of three, four or five baby birds snugly without too much excess space that would cause the hatchlings to chill.
(A new nest . . . eggs may come in a few days).
That is, indeed, a tiny space, but God’s design. The birds are restricted here, but this will enable them to enjoy freedom when they scatter on their journeys. We, too, are limited in some freedoms at the moment. What do we do when our freedoms are curtailed? How do I respond to this incarceration?
I’ve been thinking about this— the house is in order–drawers and files are cleaned and organized. Nothing remains to be done except a few pieces to iron. Oh, I just thought: I could go through all my recipes and put them in order, discarding those I will never use again. Ugh! I have the freedom to read, write, study, call friends, do crafts, cook new dishes, bake more–Tom would love this one! — work in the gardens if rains stop — such freedom to choose my activity for this moment.
We have always been confined. Yes, but free. As Christians we are confined within the security of a loving God who constrains us to love, to serve, to give, to obey. Currently we must find novel ways to fund this love.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
I received an email this morning from a friend in Vienna, Austria, sharing how she is doing in her confinement. I love the comment after she tells me she is well and staying active in her apartment.
“Interesting, enough people seem to be closer than ever before. Neighbors are doing the shopping for each other . . . a lot of discipline of the inhabitants of the city. That’s one of the good news.”
Interesting . . . is it possible our home imprisonment could germinate compassion . . . across the entire planet? We can choose to embrace this crisis of staying at home in a productive, resourceful way.
“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free.” Psalm 118:5
“Set me free from my prison that I may praise your name. . . then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.” Psalm 142: 7
After Edmund’s six solitary years, mentioned in the film above, a prisoner tunnels into his cell. For the next eight years, Abbe Faria, a brilliant man, mentors Edmund in languages, mathematics, history, philosophy . . . preparing him for his future life as a Count.
What an amazing choice in confinement?
We heard on the news this morning of an eight year old girl who is baking homemade bread with her grandmother. She had noticed the grocery store shelves were empty of bread one day, so she decided she could do something. Her neighbors are now ordering her bread! We have a daughter-in- law who is making colorful masks for friends in the health care industry.
Tom and I are in a better place than many— here in the countryside of Tennessee. No cases of the virus in the county; we’re staying six feet away from all the cows. And we have not lost a job. I understand those concerns of others.
“Live as free men. but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” 1 Peter 2:16 . . . giving compassion . . . by writing, phoning, doing whatever you can six feet away!
In confinement . . . this NOW, I am free . . .