“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare[c] the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight (Mark 1: 2,3)
The littlest of my two fluffy dogs, Tex, really struggles in life. When he came to us he was a bit of a mess physically; had to have his teeth all taken out, and was skinny as a rail. Underneath all of his fluff he still is skinny but loves his kibble and even loves cat food when his niece, Clara Kitten comes home.
Tex has cataracts so can’t see properly, and repeated ear infections has meant that he’s deaf. He’s also a little (how do you say this politely) needy? Fact of the matter is that I often call him Velcro because he has to cling to me all of the time. He can sometimes get turned around in the house and ‘loses’ me, even if I’m just about 4 feet away. In his life this is a total tragedy and he starts to cry and wail like he just lost his Mom. And really, in his case, maybe it is that.
Tex has to have a whole lot of support in order to navigate the world. We have nightlights all over the house. If I am going down to my basement office I have to pick him up and carry him with me. Usually when I’m working downstairs he has to sit on the chair beside me, or on the desk in between me and the computer keyboard. Sometimes I can get away with putting him on the couch but if he figures out that I’ve left the office, even just to do laundry across the way, the wailing starts and I have to go scoop him up and take him with me.
I’ve started pre-empting the wailing by talking him through what’s going on. “I’m here Tex, Come here”, or “This way, buddy!” He can hear me just enough to feel assured enough to come looking and can see just enough to not crash into the walls, as long as the nightlights are on. I figured he must be terrified in life so I have to do what I have to do to keep him from a total meltdown.
I think Tex is really an allegory for my life. I need a lot of reassurance when I’m stumbling around in the wilderness. I need something that will at least light my way enough that I can see what I’m doing and not crash into things. I need to hear reassurance and direction as I try to ‘make my path straight’. I somehow need to navigate God’s Light and God’s Voice (even dimly) in order to keep from stumbling around and wailing.
Covid-19 has brought us a new type of wilderness, hasn’t it. A wilderness where are paths seem incredibly crooked, and the choices we are given are not straight (forward). We are constantly being asked to make decisions by “trusting the science” or “doing what’s best for economic recovery” even when they seem dichotomous. Straightening our path in this wilderness seems elusive and unattainable.
And I wonder, this morning, if that’s because we haven’t heard the right Voice in this wilderness – the Voice that says “Its ok, get ready. Here’s the direction you need to go”. The Voice that tells us that we prioritize Love and Justice even over science and economic recovery. The Voice that tells us that the choices we make need to be based on a different path and a different direction. We are bombarded constantly by numbers and angry, hurting people and often that can seem far louder than the Voice crying in this wilderness. And when you can’t hear that Voice – well – for me – its frightening and disorienting, and like Tex I set myself up for all sorts of wailing.
We need to hear God’s Voice calling to us in this wilderness and really, the only way we can is to tune out the other things going on and pay attention.
And Trust that God’s Voice will show us a straight path.