I love how the threads of life sometimes come together in interesting ways to weave fun and thought provoking tapestries. At my last meeting of the Board of Directors of Pres House before leaving on sabbatical, one of the board members presented Erica and I with a journal each and the exhortation to do our very best to slow down during our sabbatical and really soak in God’s presence. The cover of my journal looks like this:
Then just a couple of days ago, unaware of my recent gift, my brother-in-law sent me a link to a video about this very same image. This great little video explains how this image was printed on millions of posters by the British government during World War II and saved to be used in case England was invaded. The posters were never released but one was found in a bookshop 50 years later in a small town in Northern England called Alnwick. Alnwick is close to where we will be living beginning next week. It is also home to Alnwick Castle which is the residence of the Duke of Northumberland, but better “known” as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. After being found in Barter Books in Alnwick, the poster has become an iconic image throughout England and the world.
“Keep Calm and Carry On.” When I first looked at it on the cover the gift journal I saw it as a connection to England. After watching the video above the connection to Alnwick made the connection more interesting . But then as I thought about it some more I now read it as something more than simply a cool image. It is also a reminder for me to consider during our sabbatical.
When I am faced by a challenge (to be clear, I have never faced a challenge anything like the horror of WWII) I do pretty well with the “carry on” part. I am pretty good at pressing forward, looking for solutions, solving problems, and carrying on. It is the “keep calm” part that is harder for me. I don’t always show it on the outside (though Erica and others close to me would disagree!) but I often get quite anxious and stressed in the face of twists and turns. Stress is inevitable and even beneficial to some extent. But I am hopeful that an extended sabbatical break will allow me to unlearn some of my anxiety and regain a sense of calm rooted in a renewed trust in God so that I can not only carry on, but also find myself more consistently keeping calm.