Some children seem to be born with a good sense of direction. Our son, for example, could give directions from the church to our home - almost two miles away with lots of turns - when he was just a toddler. In fact, before he knew his right from his left, he could point which way to turn at every intersection. Our daughters were not quite as savvy as their little brother, but they eventually learned how to get places...especially with the introduction of GPS.
At 9 years old, James David is much better with directions than his mother, our daughter. Ask Stephanie. She will quickly admit it. In fact, she laughed hysterically when telling me how inept she is and how “ept” her youngest is in being able to find their way home.
Not long before all the pandemic shutdowns, Stephanie and the Nash kids were headed back to West Virginia from Alexandria. Our son-in-law was being transferred to a job near Richmond and was staying with his dad in the DC area.
As they dodged traffic on the Washington Beltway, Stephanie remarked to all the kids in general and no one in particular, “I always get confused about which exits to take and which way to go.”
Up for the challenge, James David answered nonchalantly, “Oh, Mom! That’s easy.”
“Okay!” Stephanie responded. “Tell me how to get home from here.” She confessed to me that she usually had to check her GPS to know which way to turn when she exits one Interstate and enters another.
“Well, of course,” the 9-year-old continued, “take I-66 West to I-81, then head South. Next you take I-64 West to I-77. Now you’re in Beckley, and you surely can get home from there.”
“I’m impressed!” Stephanie admitted to her youngest son. “How do you know your directions so well?”
“Oh that’s easy.” He grinned and spoke with confidence. “North is where the North Pole is; South is toward the South Pole; West is where you find cowboys and cowgirls; and East is where the Democrats are!”
Where he got the idea that one political party is located in only one direction is beyond me, but he was pretty accurate in assuming that the two major parties are about as far apart as, perhaps, the North Pole and the South Pole.
Frankly, I’ve been more than slightly disappointed that people of different political persuasions have been unable to fight together against this common enemy of a pandemic instead of criticizing members of “the other party” for either not doing enough or for trying to do too much. We say, “...we’re in this together...”, but we do not seem to recognize others that are in here with us.
With the world in the shape it’s in, it seems to me we would all have enough common sense to turn to the Lord and call on Him to walk with us through this dark valley. Whatever the eventual outcome, we would be wise to encourage one another, pray for one another, and listen to each other with open minds - even when we do not agree on every detail.
What has caused us to pull against each other and separate ourselves, politically and spiritually, as far as the East is from the West?
The only answer I can come up with to that question is that maybe some of us are operating with moral compasses that are busted! Maybe we’re headed in the wrong direction because we do not have an internal compass that works properly.
Pray that God will fix our sense of direction.
Steve Playl, chaplain, columnist, college instructor and former pastor, firstname.lastname@example.org