“Don’t be surprised at the fiery ordeals taking place among you.”  Considering what has been happening in the world recently “fiery ordeal” seems to describe our situation well.  Fiery ordeals make me think of an eight letter word that begins with the letter “A” and ends with the same letter.  It’s something that has no limbs or extremities … has bizarre ways of eating, odd smelling habits, unblinking gaze and a worm-like method of locomotion. Classed as a reptile, some can even grow to thirty feet in length.

A manual, supposedly attributed to the US government’s Peace Corps designed for volunteers who worked in the Amazon jungle says that if you’re attacked by one of these things here’s what you should do: Don’t run (it is faster than you think). Lie flat on the ground. It will come and begin to climb over you. Let it.  Do not panic!   After it has examined you, it will begin to swallow you, always from the feet end.  Let it.  Do not panic!  Lie perfectly still. When it has reached your knees, s l o w l y and with as little movement as possible reach down, take your knife, and …

This may not be an authentic publication from the Peace Corps, but there are two things that might help when facing the fiery ordeals of life – those things that cause us to fear or even terrify us, even if it’s an anaconda
… the answer to the eight letter word.

Terrible ‘fiery ordeal’ things may happen in our world and in our personal lives. When Anaconda Moments strike and we feel as if we are being devoured by life itself and the darkness of life seems to take over or even overwhelm, we must carry our sharp spiritual knife.  But, what if our spiritual knife is dull?  there is no joy?  there is no “centre” in our lives? our spiritual lives are empty?  Then we go back to the first learning.  DO.  NOT.  PANIC.

Many years ago, little Dolores was born. The origin of ‘Dolores” is Spanish meaning ‘sorrows.’ Much of Dolores’ life was spent in extreme childhood poverty and life-threatening illnesses which pummelled her throughout her youth and adulthood. But after meeting Eddie, the love of her life who eventually became her husband, she became known as ‘Joy’ … not ‘Dolores.’    Several years ago, I made a mobile as a keepsake for myself
and ultimately my son, to remember my mother, his grandmother: Joy.

At the bottom of the mobile, I added the poem, simply entitled “JOY
which Mom wrote in the mid 1980’s in celebration of her Confirmation of her faith when she was 70. It speaks to me of the importance of counting our blessings – even in the midst of Anaconda Moments in life.

JOY  Through a love of God and a willingness to submit my will in everything – most of the time – comes this deep sense of peace and joy even though at times it would appear I have almost nothing to be joyful about and feel full of despair.  As I begin to count my blessings and feel grateful to God for even the smallest tone, this joy begins to permeate my being and fill my heart.  It grows so quickly!  Even the troubles I am experiencing have little power to depress or overwhelm me.  It is like a magic spring!  Always bubbling beneath the surface.    All it takes to make it appear and flood my being – is a conscious love for God and a deep sense of gratitude for permitting me to catch even the smallest glimpses of this wonderful JOY DIVINE over time.  <author: Joy Mack, 1985>

My mother had many Anaconda Moments in her life, but she learned not to panic and to carry a sharp knife.  No matter what size anaconda begins to nibble at our heels“fiery ordeals” (Anaconda Moments) can be faced especially when we don’t panic and carry a sharp knife.

An aside: The mobile in the image has three red wooden hearts with pearls around each heart.  Pearls were Mom’s favourite.  🙂  The top heart has a smaller heart covered by a piece of silk she used for the dress she made for my high school graduation (she was a lovely seamstress) on top of lace which she often used – and loved.  The bottom of that heart: an antique pearl button (part of her collection of antique buttons).   The second heart has other buttons from her collection, a mini photo of Mom and Dad, and her pearl earrings. The third heart has a Canadian pin (born in the US she became a very proud Canadian citizen when she and Dad married), a pin from Cursillo (a significant step in her faith journey) and another button from her antique button collection.  At the bottom is a copy of her poem: JOY.


© June Maffin