They were a careless people—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back to their money and vast carelessness, or whatever it was and let people clean up the mess they had made. The Great Gatsby
Hear the voice of one calling: In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD, make straight in the desert, a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 40:3-5
So last night it was one of those nights at the Voelkel house. Somehow we had this perfectly beautiful French family in our living room, a French family with their very own castle with sixteen fireplaces. But since our French is limited to Spanish cognates, I wrapped the Mrs. Hosterman blankets around them, Alan popped on one of his berets and his wrap-around-goggles, and they did the Safari thing under the stars, up A Mountain, over Gate’s Pass and through San Xavier Mission and home again, home again jiggity jug to chocolates, blackberries and thick muddy California wine until midnight. And we all laughed about me getting up at four to do my prayer thing and my swimming thing, and I said I slept deep and hard and it would be okay. But I woke up weeping. And the line, “They were a careless people” was haunting my dreams. And it had turned into a prayer for my kiddos.
And yesterday was a day of looking brokenness in the face. Arms wrapped around weeping people. On every staircase. On the living room couch. Hunched over a computer. Real live people smashed by careless people. Matteo gave me some clear images of that this morning. He sent me basically the modern version of the Four Spiritual Laws: God loves you, we sin, He took our place so that we could be restored to the life He created us for. 1, 2, 3, 4. And it was full of falling smashing plates. And they nailed the brokenness part. The seeking to fill the void. The nothing works. Smash.
And my kiddos are careless. Smash. Their tossed paper plates and napkins and candy wrappers and brand new unbit apples and unfinished homework roll under under the trees and next to the walls that they lean up against and text and nudge and yawn. And wait for someone else to come and clean up the mess they made.
And I do what I can to call out. Yesterday we watched a video clip from Venezuelan students pleading with the world to listen. And to pray. So we prayed. And watched unarmed Ukrainian soldiers march into Russian bullets. We watched tennis balls being made in China and calculated contrasting wages. And one of the boys got it and all that watching. He saw. He ended his environmental science production presentation with a plea not to harden our hearts like the Israelites. Hello to that ah ha moment that keeps us teacher-types hefting stacks of papers.
And we are his Church. May we not avert our eyes. May we be called the repairer of the breach and not the plate smashers. The sort of all-about-me hard-heartedness that Jesus looked at sadly as they walk away. May I be found about my Father’s business. Nothing but. The action verbs rather than the leaning up the wall and text and nudge and yawn verbs: prepare and make straight. For His glory will be revealed.