When I was a young boy, I would scour a stream’s edge hunting for frogs. The fun was all in the catching. Once in hand, the frog lost its appeal, so I would grant its freedom and search for yet another willing to give a good chase.
Timmy had other ideas. When Timmy caught frogs, he liked to squeeze them sideways forcing their wide mouths to open so he could then pour gravel down their throats. I went frogging with Timmy exactly one time. Catch, fill with stones, toss away, cackle with glee, times ten. Though I was inarticulate then, Timmy’s actions brought me to a full awareness of the range of choices we humans have, as though a little lightbulb had been turned on in some dark corner. I remember the incident clearly all these many years later.
And as the years have passed, I have met my share of adult Timmys who have found far bigger prey than frogs. Just as with that early glimmering, I’m reminded that at every turn in my life, in every moment, small or large, I have choices to make about how I intend to live in the world, and those choices have moral consequence.
It’s worth bearing this in mind in this rancorous cultural/political moment. With the world awry, it’s easy to lose focus on what matters most of all, so easy to fall headlong into the inky well of our shadow selves where power, fear, and self-absorption trump compassion, empathy, and personal integrity.
As followers after the way of Jesus, we must keep our wits in the midst of the chaos—our wits, our courage, our clarity, & our dignity coupled with a compassionate regard for all persons. We need each other to stay clear and focused; that’s one important purpose of the church.