On a dusty shelf in my mind, I recall a little song we taught when I helped in a pre-school Sunday School class during my teen years. The lyrics included admonitions most of the tots didn’t fully comprehend, but perhaps those words came back to them as they do to me. The lines included, “Be careful little eyes what you see….Be careful little ears what you hear” and went on from there.
As my eyes and ears are accosted on social media pages and TV with rants of all sorts, something on the dusty shelf of my mind stirred.
I am interested in the news, but that can be hard to discover in the midst of the ranting, shouting, pontificating, and rambling. I am interested in seeing and hearing the fun and great things happening in the lives of my friends as well as how the Lord is moving in their lives, but not a barrage of social commentary that can bombard me if I checkout Facebook.
You see, all those other things seep into me even though I don’t want them to, and they can have an effect on me that pulls me offside and away from the course the Lord sets before me.
They can be harbingers of fear.
They can also cause my thoughts to go tumbling and momentarily lose sight of WHO is in charge as well as what I (or any of us) has control over and what I (or any of us) do not. They nibble at His peace, joy, and hope. They are not life giving, but more death dealing. They can pull any one of us into isolation or build little walls in our hearts that tear relationships apart.
That should be our first clear clue that behind so much of this, there is a power at work that is meant to destroy us and divide us that has been here since the beginning of time.
That power is clever and well experienced. We never suspect it is he. We label it everything else and he quietly chuckles as he watches us get caught up in the milieu. Our words change, speaking more of our differences than our commonality. Our attitudes shift almost imperceptibly at times and it can take us a moment or more to recognize something is eroding the faith and belief in the One greater than ourselves whom we say we are committed to.
We can forget we are one family.
How myopic we can be! We are a part of something so much bigger than where our focus shifts. A recent sighting of the International Space Station on a clear cool night was a reminder of how the view from there is so different than mine.
Reading Jayber Crow has given me pause more than once as I have read Wendell Berry’s wise well-crafted words and insight coming from the main character, Jayber. His words go beyond noting that we often don’t understand each other very well to the pithy reality.
“People generally suppose they don’t understand one another very well, and that is true; they don’t. But some things communicate easily and fully. Anger and contempt and hatred leap from one heart to another like fire in dry grass. The revelations of love are never complete or clear, not in this world. Love is slow and accumulating, and no matter how large and high it grows, it falls short. Love comprehends the world, though we don’t comprehend it. But hate comes off in slices, clear and whole – self-explanatory, you might say. You can hate people completely and kill them in an instant.” Wendell Berry
Certainly the words attributed to the philosopher/barber, Jayber in Wendell Berry’s epic story pierce bone and marrow to the truth. Some pages later he adds:
“Hate succeeds. This world gives plentiful scope and means to hatred, which always finds its justifications and fulfills itself perfectly in time by destruction of the things of time…
But love, sooner or later, forces us out of time. It does not accept that limit. Of all that we feel and do, all the virtues and all the sins, love alone crowds us at last over the edge of the world. For love is always more than a little strange here. It is not explainable or even justifiable. It is itself the justifier. We do not make it. If it did happen to us, we could not imagine it. It includes the world and time as a pregnant woman includes her child whose wrongs she will suffer and forgive. It is in the world but is not altogether of it. It is of eternity. It takes us there when it most holds us here.”