We have a neighbor who displays a magnet of an American flag on the side of his mailbox. He’s had it upside down (a signal of distress) for the past several months with one date written on it in black marker: 1-6-2021. January 6, 2021, the date of the Capitol insurrection and riot. I look at it every time I return home into our neighborhood. I think “There is at least one person who remembers and doesn’t have convenient amnesia.”

Convenient amnesia. I was in a store the other day and someone came in asking “Do we have to wear a mask, even if we’re vaccinated?” I left this customer to the underpaid workers to deal with, but read the sign on the way out. Clearly it said masks required; very simple, concise English with a picture of a mask. Clearly this man was “special” and above the rules constantly changing, not on his terms. And yes, in case you were wondering: we were masked. And we managed not to sprain our wrists putting on the masks. That must be what everyone is afraid of. Repetitive movement injury.

America is not doing very well in the pandemic, and that is quite possibly the understatement of the century. Children are being hospitalized and dying; hospitals are banding together quite literally and begging everyone to get vaccinated. One in five hundred Americans have died from Covid. And yet, even as hospitals overflow and patients have to play Russian roulette in finding a hospital that will admit them…people don’t seem to care here. They want their naked faces proudly on display, their comfortable routines back, nipped and tucked into regularity and comfort. They don’t care about their fellow neighbor; they want to not suffer any longer.

People do not know how to suffer, or how to suffer well. As Christians, this is part and parcel of what it means to follow Jesus. The here and now, your present life, is a blip on a page that extends into eternity–either with God, or without God. He always leaves the choice to us.

If you’re like the saint and I, and are wondering what in God’s green earth is going on–know that you’re not alone. God allows suffering to draw us closer to Him; to build resiliency, to sharpen our faith…the list of His reasons go on and may be hidden from us until after die. The important thing, as Paul said, is to continue to walk with God and with humility. To suffer alongside Him, to not chase after the fool’s gold of this world as the fool’s will insist. He will not abandon those who love Him.

5 Comments on “The Neighbor with the Upside Down Flag

  1. Very good Peregrine, well written! I don’t understand why people are so against masks, such a minor thing to do to help everyone. Maybe if we had a mask mandate here (we do now), I would not have gotten Covid. But who knows. Kids need to where masks here too, and I was talking to a man today who said “I wouldn’t put my kids through the torture of wearing a mask!” The definition of torture must have changed. Have a great day!😃😺

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