She listens. Quietly, carefully. O Mio Babbino Caro plays softly; the deep, melodic notes carry a strength of soul that touches her heart and her head and whispers quietly, carry on, friend, carry on. Outside it rains. Hundreds of miles away, fires crackle and smoke rises higher and higher above what was once green forest and sleeping homelands.
She watches the sun rise in the morning and fall again. They watch the same sun; blisteringly hot, hazy, and angry red. Lord, come. What we see here are shadows; glimpses of glory and glimpses of chaos. We see horror and we see what some would call heaven.
As she fiddles with a stray yarn on the blue, yellow, and brown socks she wears, she thinks about gladiators and Rome and slaves and all that. Last night, she watched it; a big man with a small mouth, defeating a great idea. Yet, the road to that idea…ah, the road itself was horror. She can’t imagine living in a world that ugly and yet here she is in what feels like is a Rome of sorts; ugly in its own way. Dark and becoming darker. It is not her personality that speaks these things, she knows. It is reality. It is life. It is part of existence on this planet of sin.
It was once said, “Sin lies at the door and its desire is for you.” Can you see that – like a huge, grotesque serpent – waiting? Hungry. Famished. The door in its face, but it lurks, hoping to fill its starving body. Sin is always starving. It knows no rest. So here we are in this starved land, where thistles grow in between rocks and the sun shines on cracked earth. When rain does come – and it always comes – it creates great crevasses and valleys; floods and angry, loud waves. We cannot contain this serpent, sin. We cannot keep it from our door. Its desire is for us, and we are overcome.
Softly, calmly, the rain patters at her window, calling gently to her to turn off the light and go to sleep. Yet the weight lays heavy on her heart and she cannot sleep. She read today, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” It seems ironic, doesn’t it? Crazy, even. Crazy to ask someone to believe and be strong and take courage when all around them, the land groans, louder every day.
She once heard a man say, “Jesus is taking this world where he wants it to go. Why should I be afraid?” It’s as if there is a great ship, its massive sails plowing through the heavy winds as it rises and falls with great strength into the depths of the ocean. There is a Man at the helm. Yet, He is no ordinary Man. They say He is a King.
Ocean depths cave at the mention of his name
Trees rise early, stand tall and stretch high to glorify him
Skies move in wild colors of veneration
and all around the earth cries and claps and watches for a glimpse of Him.
Here He is. This Man. Here is sin. This serpent. One day, they will meet in the final battle – this ugly warlord and the Great King. Warlord against Great King, and the greatest of all battles will commence. What will the ending be? How will this world be finished? What will happen to the serpent and the Great King?
The calm slapping pattern of the rain ceases for a moment, and she has time to hear the wind rustle through her window and touch her face. Her fingers grow cold, and she wishes she had a cup of Earl Grey tea with a tablespoon of Craig and Reve’s best honey. Liquid gold. She stops and thinks about all the evil. Yet there is a goodness and she must believe that one day she will see it, no matter how ugly the world becomes. Tea or no tea, her fingers are cold and her mind is whirling. Tomorrow is another day.
The Man at the helm. Her mind is fixed on Him and His greatness. He could take everything, all the darkness away now. He could make all the people happy. But you know what? They would still choose the serpent. Somehow, though it means death for them, they will still open the door a crack and the more and more until the whole of their homes and lives have sucked in this horrible beast and its body has twisted and poisoned their own. They would call the Man unfair if he took it all away, for where would be their fun? They would call him unfair if he leaves it too, for is he even just?
And so He rides into the storm, on his way to the final battle of the serpent. The waves grow choppier. The sky grows darker and more foreboding. Yes, there is a Man at the helm. He sails and anchors and does not need a map for HE himself was the creator of the map.
Serpent. Rome. Wildfires. Cracked earth. Little girl, picking at her sock.