Confessions of a More-than-Middle-Aged Mom

Some people think living in Florida is the end-all, as a place to retire and bathe in the sun to forget about harsher realities — that Paradise is simply here for the taking—-a Magical Kingdom– so “jump right in”. As a reluctant resident of the state over the past two years, living through two hurricane seasons and hotter-than-Hades summers, already not a fan of ocean-front living and negligible elevation changes, I can only say the faulty concept of “heaven on earth” in Florida has been further shattered by the carnage of more “guns blazing”.

There is an unspoken premise that moving to a place like Florida automatically improves one’s health, ignoring the topic of skin cancer (the silent killer) and disclaimers that “applying a good sunscreen and covering up” will help prevent melanoma —-wait, I thought “Paradise” was about wearing less clothes and being less restricted. Add to this the reality of a terrorist who sprayed bullets into a crowded night club not long ago, followed by another school shooting, both resulting in the tragic loss of lives. In the aftermath, it’s hard to appreciate complacent attitudes adopted in Paradise by those who would choose to ignore the need for more than “hopes and prayers” in resolving harsher, communal realties.

It’s reassuring to see people walking, jogging, cycling, and frequenting a myriad of gym facilities offering the latest and greatest work out options in Florida. It’s good to have reason to believe people are fighting for better health, clearer minds, and a platform from which to be participants in a better community. The question I ask myself and would ask others:

What are we doing with our improved health and clearer minds?

Are we perpetuating a myth and simply indulging in a Paradise that’s a bubble-world waiting to burst when the next shots are fired at innocent victims?

I will be the first to confess, walking my two dogs, an occasional drive away from the monotonous flatlands and predictable heat in Florida, and reading books, have sustained me. Even the necessary work I do to try and stay afloat in an economy where inflation and residential congestion are encroaching, has its momentary “escape from reality” benefits.

And it’s no surprise to me when people take to the open road, seeking out new adventures and awe- inspiring views, and places where solace can still be found. Honestly, I want to join them.

But I find myself asking: What am I doing to help stem the tide of violence and evil that seems to be advancing on corners of “Paradise” valued? For some that’s Florida- the Sunshine State for retirees and vacationers, and those trying to serve them. For others, our National Parks. Still others, the health of an environment in which we all live.

The confessions of this More-than-Middle-Aged-Mom have been exposed. So then, as Frances Schaeffer, a Theologian once asked, considering the problem of evil and the possibility of being catalysts to positive change in our world: “How then shall we live?” Complacency and silence are complicity.  Take-away lessons from spiritual leaders I find myself paraphrasing from memory, combined with personal notes made in bulletin margins, suggests:

Start where you are, offer what you have with love, and it will be enough; if for only one, make a difference like a pebble tossed in a pond. The ripple effect will take it from there. Then rest for a while to recharge, and consider “hopes and prayers” find their needed applications through transformative action.

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