You know that sound. The one your washing machine makes when you’ve got sheets inside and they wrap themselves around the spindle – soaked with water they over burden the tub to the point that its geometry is all akimbo and it starts rattling so loud you think your teeth are going to fall out.
That’s been my soul these past couple of days -- all wet, out of balance, and spinning aimlessly in circles, making more noise than a fella has the right to. It takes more than a firm hand to lug the sheet around to rebalance the load. It takes a ton of strength and determination – and it’s gotta be done, right now. The wet sheet is easy – you yank on it hard with all your might, resettle it here and there, close the lid and try again.
How do you do it with your soul, which is lighter than a feather? Yeah, it’s a trick question, you can’t. I’m not sure what threw me off balance. Perhaps it was a consortium of events, all conspiring with the evil one to see how far I could spin out of control before cracking up like the fiberglass front end of a Corvette on a cool Pittsburgh evening.
That was 1967. Me and my buddy Al (short for Aloysius Ferdinand John Mahler Jr.) were exploring the darkness of a Pittsburgh night on my Honda Sport 50. I had never seen or even knew what fiberglass was, but there it was, splintered in a million pieces near a streetlamp. The meeting of Newtonian Physics and Detroit Muscle could only end one way, and not a happy one at that.
Yanked back into 2023 in less time than it takes for a single breath to expire, God (The Father) had once again wrenched me out of the pernicious claws of a bad place with so much elegance and beauty that it does momentarily stop and restart the heart.
I know when God is talking to me. Actually, everyone can if they listen very carefully with just a touch of discernment. It was barely 2 am and a sound had awoken me that I hadn’t heard in over 10 years. A solitary mockingbird was singing his little heart out. That’s all it took to shake my soul back into balance, and for me to forget the dreadful spinning it had been doing for the past week or so.
I quietly slid out of bed. Macho was stretched out alongside my feet; Mary was curled up by Phyllis. The symphony outside was hitting a crescendo, and I knew I had a reserved seat there as I quietly moved toward it with Frisky and Mary in tow. Mojo was already in the backyard, waiting to escort me to my chair.
The moon was about ¾ full, but the sky was a mystery. I could not recognize any of the constellations. This was not an hour I was familiar with. I spun slowly in a circle, trying with all my might to locate something familiar. I think it was my second or third rotation when I craned my head up and back as far as it would go and finally eked out some recognition – an ear-to-ear smile erupted on my face as I saw the Big Dipper directly overhead. Between the symphony, the North Star, and the fragrance of the petunias that surrounded me, Father had lifted my soaking wet soul out of the washer – and as gently as He could, realigned my sheet so it could once again spin harmoniously.
I sat there for maybe ten minutes, trying to discern the location of the glorious little creature that had started this performance for me. The desert is deceptive, it is almost impossible to detect the actual location of where sounds emanate from. I knew the freeway chatter was at my six o’clock, but it sounded like it was right in front of me. I stood slowly and got my bearings. I knew there were only three or four places where birds would be roosting. It only took a few seconds more to discover the source. I wanted to pay homage to this tiny creature that God had sent to roust me out of the forlorn misery that had now hijacked me back in alignment with everything that is good and holy in the world.
Most often, God whispers. Many people have difficulty hearing His words because the noise inside them is loud enough to drown out an approaching freight train.
If I can hear Him, you can too.