Lopsided Dragons and Control Issues
BY LENA CHAPIN | August 23, 2021
Things don’t always fit the way you want them to.
On Sunday I smiled through the Gospel, “that John was excitable from the very beginning”, and the psalm had me thinking of my own mother who taught me to say the rosary very slowly and methodically. But I just could not wrap my head around the reading from Revelations.
Floating women, baby-eating dragons, and places prepared by God…talk about overwhelming. My brain wanted order and peace. It, at the very least, wanted a dragon with seven heads to have fourteen horns, not ten. But no…
Reading Revelations felt much like a metaphor for life right now. Just one thing after another. Sensory overload. Repeating the words “what the heck?” over and over.
It was the big red baby-eating dragon that got me. Seven heads, seven diadems (crowns for fellow lay people out there), but 10 horns. Now I’m sure there is some biblical, theological, symbolic reasoning for these numbers, but as a non-theologian and a very visual person, I couldn’t get past the non-fitting-ness of this detail. Why only 10 horns, why not 14? Why not 7? Why isn’t this symbolic dream dragon symmetrical??!?!?!?!
In this time of confusion, as we prepare for school to begin and shuffle back into work and public spaces only to hear about variants, breakthrough cases, and the like, I am grasping for any kind of control I can. I’ve located and washed all of my masks, strategically placing them in purses, coats, in my car, and by my keys so I will always have one on hand…again. I am writing all of my activities—from my running schedule to work meetings—in a daily planner and then checking and rechecking my Google calendars to make sure they match. I even brought home chickens so I would have somewhere else to put my nervous energy. And now I’ve fixated on this dragon. There, with its intimidating tail swings and non-symmetrical horns it crashes a third of the stars to the ground and aggressively inches toward this floating woman in labor ready to devour her child. And then it doesn’t.
It just doesn’t.
God provides. God “catches” this baby boy up to his throne and provides safety for the mother. God provides.
So, let me tie this back to Mary. I haven’t ever had a baby. But I have been a teenage girl and a young woman. I haven’t ever had an angel appear to me and tell me that God has chosen me to carry the Savior of the world. But I have felt completely, 100% overwhelmed, unqualified, and as if my life was out of my own control. There are things that are within my control: my actions, reactions, and perspectives. And there are things that aren’t: global pandemics, racism, etc. But I have the ability to seek refuge in what God provides, like the woman in Revelations. I have the ability to trust and accept God’s will as Mary did. God will provide opportunities for me to use my energy to fight racism. God will provide opportunities to make someone’s life a little more just and equitable during the pandemic. Even if it doesn’t look the way I want it to.
Lena Chapin is the development director for Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from John Carroll University, she spent a year in Immokalee, Florida with the Humility of Mary Volunteer Service. Lena worked for the Ignatian Solidarity Network from 2016-2022.
This reflection is appreciated, it clearly iterates the feeling of lack of control and confusion about our times. Why is this pandemic raging again? What must I do to help in this confusion. I think there is no other feeling or message than, “ the Lord will provide.” Interestingly, this was my Dad’s favorite message and today is his birthday.
Our hearts go out to the people of Louisiana as they recover from the storm. We see others reaching out to assist their neighbor as their longing for control reaches an all time high. May the agencies who are skilled in these matters have the grace and courage to do what is necessary for recovery..
Control is something we all would like to have more of. During the pandemic I seem to search for one or two glimpses of control. It seems that time is even illusive as the day passes without getting what I wanted done. Control gives me an appreciation for life and its meaningfulness. It is amazing that through all that lack of control my prayer life gets stronger, I need to have God with me more than ever. I notice that people too are wanting Christ in their lives through prayer and good works. I try to concentrate on the needs of others and how I can simply reach out to fulfill those needs. Reaching out to share a kind word, a book, a meal, a walk all give us a sense that God is in control. It seems that control reaches out to include God in everything I do and that the person I am reaching to help sees the same need for prayer and good works. Simple actions give people hope that God will continue to be with all of us during the variants and that control will translate to love and care for our neighbor and our planet.
Spectacular Lena!!! As a fellow order seeker I concur with your feelings of confusion in 10 diadems for a seven headed dragon. I also concur with the fact that God will always make the saving catch. Now I have to on my mask for another Dr appt.
Here my pagan friend says, “God is in control and God is expected to be the winner”.
“Necessity is the mother of invention” goes back to Plato about 2600 years ago and I’ve never heard of a dispute on it but, I disagree.
After extensive studying when intellectual achievements become more readily available it seems that this Platonic assumption expresses this very well. Creative, and inovated people are more inspired. However, having my inovations imporoved when the need is great.
However, what changes in reaction of those who need inovation, that these people encourage inovation and they stop declaring virtually any new idea as wrong without any meaningless rebuttal. Many ideas are rejected on emotional, not intellectual, rejection. Suddenly wars, or other problems, create a burning need for all worthy thoughts deserve scrutiny.
Then, when the great need (wars etc.) is gone/resolved then derision is used to reject.