Signs and crossroads

Daily Office Readings for Friday,June 23, 2023: AM Psalm 88; PM Psalm 91, 92; 1 Samuel 3:1-21; Acts 2:37-47; Luke 21:5-19

Nation against nation.
Kingdom against kingdom.
Earthquakes, famines, plagues, and wars.
“Signs of the end times,” we’ve all been told.

All the same…
has there ever been a time
in the history of the world
that these things haven’t been happening?

How many times in my life
has a talking head on TV
declared with alarm
that our nation, our society, our world
was at a crossroads?

Is it possible
that Jesus wasn’t meaning
for people to think
he was predicting the end of the world
but instead
was trying to get across the notion
that we are always hanging in a balance
between birthing new ways of being
and destroying all that truly matters
in this world?

And sometimes I wonder
if in all that talk he outlines
about persecution,
he’s simply talking about
the randomness of martyrdom.

I don’t think any of us, as children
say to ourselves,
“When I grow up, I want to be a martyr.”
Because life is the one thing
that we humans seem to cling to
with white knuckles
in some of the most hopeless situations…

Yet how many times
do circumstances and the needs of others
cause the human spirit
to totally ignore the self-preservation algorithms
buried in our brains,
and at the spur of the moment,
reflexively act, simply to do what needs to be done,
risk of death be damned?

I have now lived long enough
to see life’s repeating cycle
of joyful periods and rough patches
interspersed with bland stretches of doldrums
and times of living by going through the motions.

I have lived long enough
to know that everything I ever planned
never turned out like I planned it
and live with the knowledge
that my most golden moments
often happened because
I was in the right place at the right time
and I somehow knew what I was supposed to do.

And you know,
maybe that’s the deal.
Maybe every generation
that ever existed
felt like they were on the verge of their own apocalypse
and always put too much weight
on the dire-ness of the circumstances around them,
forgetting the saints before us
did the same thing
and felt the same way we feel now…

And rather than fear (or tout) the sense of being persecuted
we were always supposed to, instead,
be praying that we would hear the words
from God’s whispering lips
to our ears,
to urge our hands and feet
to simply do whatever it is
we’re supposed to do, death be damned

Featured image: Sometimes interpreting the signs is a lot harder than it should be!  Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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