When it’s time to change
Monday I went home for lunch and to see about Max and the cats. As I’m headed with Max toward the lower level back door, I suddenly jump out of my skin because a sudden and piercing two beeps interrupt our conversation. Max looked at me as if to ask what my problem was because it had clearly been happening before I got there. It was NOT a fire alarm kind of beep and besides those only go off at 3 a.m. This was longer, a series of two, and more piercing if that’s possible. I wandered around looking at the smoke detectors all the same and realized when the shrieks happened again they came from the CO2/gas detector plugged into the wall. It was a two for one deal and I can’t remember how long ago the deal was. I immediately went and propped the backdoor open and Max started running in and out like it was a Worlds of Fun amusement. I started toward the windows to open them – the whole it’s a colorless-and-odorless-danger so nothing to mess with is ingrained in my being. The piercing sound continued about every 30 seconds and it did occur to me maybe I should check to see if there was an interpretation of the sound on the detector itself to get it stopped besides carrying it outside and waving it in the non-contaminated Kansas air which wasn’t working anyway.
It occurred to me that Max seemed fine and he’d been in the house all morning so if CO2 or some other kind of gas was contaminating the house, he would surely show some sign of sickness or death and he was running around like life was grand. He clearly didn’t realize it was Monday. As it continued to shriek every 30 seconds I found the instructions on the back which said that if you pushed the button on the left side of the detector and stood on your right leg (I added the last part) 3 times with a 2 second wait in between and the front of the detector says “END”, then the shriek is because “the unit has come to the end of it’s useable life and should be disposed of properly.” Voila’, I pressed said button 3 times with a 2 second delay between, stood on my right leg, and the bright all-caps letters came up: END. It was still shrieking so I took it up to get my ballpeen hammer to put it out of my misery, but then read further into the copious instructions and found how to dismantle it to stop the shrieking. It might be that I broke the clasp that you were supposed to carefully undo to get to the dismantling part to recycle, but after withstanding the shrieking beeps every 30 seconds for the few minutes or 2,000 hours at that point, I needed it to be done. Now the house is temporarily without a CO2/gas detector and I have not rushed out to the Depot or the Lowe to find a replacement – I’m giving myself time to heal and counting on my animals to show signs of poisoning until I get the plug-in plastic kind.
It did occur to me how interesting it was that the unit knew when “itself” had come to an “END.” It wasn’t a dead battery, it wasn’t a loose wire, it wasn’t a bad connection at the electrical outlet, it knew its “useable life” had come to a bright all-caps red letter END. I suppose it computes the number of hours it’s in use and when it hits that set max number it automatically starts shrieking about it being done working and for the user to let it go to its eternal resting and recycling place. I’m guessing you might know where I’m going with this.
I sorta wonder if God ever gave a thought to putting that kind of warning/understanding button on our lefthand side somewhere that we could push three times with a two second delay in between, stand on our right leg, and an answer would roll up clearly that we’d reached the END – maybe of life as we know it, maybe of our usefulness (ouch), maybe of our awareness that doing the same things the same way and expecting different results is a shrieking definition of insanity. I know, I know, it was simply a little old CO2/gas detector, don’t push it beyond that. But what if . . .
And maybe God did include that in the set of instructions somewhere in our being. Maybe God decided when God included a brain, memory, sensitivity, the ability to perceive and receive and comprehend; that God decided God would trust us to realize when we needed to change, move, change, get some fresh air, change, take a nap, change, laugh a little, cry a little, maybe even shriek or pierce the air with an alarming yell or two, and then change, that we would do it. Maybe it’s our bad if we’re not?
(1 Kings 19:11-13, NRSV) “He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Previous to this Elijah has asked to die. He’s defeated the pagan gods of Baal and Jezebel has sworn to kill him. As confident as he was in God in one moment, now he feels lost and alone and abandoned in the next – isn’t that so human??? Essentially God says to him standing at the entrance to that cave out of the silence that Elijah’s life isn’t going to be the same, that he is to go and anoint two different kings AND to anoint Elisha as “prophet in your place.” Push the button three times with a two second delay in between, stand on your right leg, and know when it’s time to change, to transform, to listen in a new way, and to receive your faith in a method that is unexpected and new, and maybe even to head down a different path toward a destination you hadn’t before dreamed.
I believe that’s where we are as we continue making our way out of this pandemic. There are no clear answers, but sitting and doing nothing isn’t an option either. Perhaps it’s time we listened to God speak through our souls in new and different ways . . . to change, move, get some fresh air, take a nap, laugh a little, cry a little, maybe even shriek or pierce the air a little to get some of the frustration and grief and anguish released from our internal systems of what this last year going on two has done to us. And then be open to . . . change. To get up and move in faith – trusting that whether we feel it or not, God is walking beside us, offering gentle direction, and blessing the path before us as we continue to build the road while we’re walking on it whether it looks in any way familiar, or not.