10 Minutes Peace
by Susan McGrath
I haven't been to a circus in a long time, but the ones I did attend as a child never seemed quite as glamorous or daring as the stereotypical three-ring circus on TV or in stories.
Most days I feel like my life is a three-ring circus. I'm the Ringmaster who must keep it all going, announcing the death-defying leap of a two-year old from one piece of furniture to the next, while keeping the eight-year-old focused on the homework tightrope and watching unreturned phone calls, piles of laundry and soccer schedules run around in my head like trick dogs.
At my kitchen table are two folding wooden chairs. They are comfortable antiques, but not valuable or beautiful. I keep them because they have a good story. Printed on the backrest of each are the words "Fred J. Mack Circus".
I don't know who Fred was or if his circus still exists. The chairs came to my grandfather and some of his relatives and neighbors over fifty years ago, I believe. A man driving a truck full of the chairs (apparently on their way to the next performance in some small town eager for entertainment) became ill and left the truck at a gas station along a highway near my grandparents' home.
It must have been a serious illness, because the story goes that the man died. No one ever came to claim the truck or the chairs. They ended up all over the county, I think. I'm not sure about the truck!
I've always wondered if the circus continued. Was it already defunct, having sold chairs which formerly held it audience? Were there so many chairs that this one truck load was not missed? Surely the driver was! It's all very odd.
But I love the chairs. They've been a joke and extra seating at family gatherings since I was a small child, and most likely before I was born.
If there was no audience, could the circus survive? If a place was not provided for the audience to sit, would they come? There's a song called "Audience of One" that talks about just freely praising God and getting great joy from doing it.
If I stopped and thought about God being my audience, not just that He sees all I do, but that I'm doing it only for His sake, how differently would I live my daily life?
My life may be crazy most of the time, but if I don't take time to turn to God, pray to Him and praise Him, there will be no order at all in my three-ring circus. The lions will chase the elephants and scare the trapeze artist who will fall onto the sad clown, making him cry even harder and . . .
Next time I sit in one of my Fred J. Mack Circus chairs, I'm going to picture God sitting in the other one and watching. I wonder if He will applaud?
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a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;
living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;
completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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