Jesus called me to a walk today. I rose up and moved with Him, until we came to a place I know so well. He showed me the playground of my heart, and asked me what were these idols He found there.
Welcomed in to fill the gaps His presence seemed to leave, my hope to make sure all was right — that I did not suffer from the holes of emptiness that He seemed intent on leaving bare.
Fearing that if I were not careful, I might fall into one, I went ahead and pledged them to worthy tenants. I asked only that they stay and keep my grounds level, never leaving, never forsaking the duty I had given to them.
These rodents were my support, their presence made me feel at ease — with them there I could relax. Yet, with them always near, I became always busy. They did more to hold my attention than serve the purpose so important to me.
But, so engaged had I become with their winsome personalities that I forgot; I did not hold their ways against them, but rejoiced that I had found friends to fill my hours here, allies who sought me out, and were never far off.
I counted each one as an individual that enriched my life, a mini-savior of my cause. That cause was loneliness, and how they gladly took it up! They hoisted my banner, and encouraged me to hold mine even higher. They did not fill my holes, but they promised with their help they would disappear. I would not be a cast-out, I would not live with less, I deserved more out of life — I would have it all.
That’s what my pride and self-pitying said. It accepted the voice I lent it, and gladly drowned out the whispers from behind that spoke the truth I could not accept. I would not be contradicted, every challenge I would win, even if it meant an unconcerned good-bye to my first and only real Playmate.
If He did not like the atmosphere, then He could leave. There was plenty of fun to be had without Him — the rest of us would make sure of that.
The funny thing, which actually took me a while to notice, was that when my First-Mate left, He took part of me with Him. At first I thought this would still be all right; after all, I had my rodo-pals in tow.
But, then even that began to change. They didn’t seem so happy or concerned with me as they once were. In fact, one particularly quiet morning I discovered them in the most treasonous act imaginable: Not only were they disregarding the holes that bothered me so much, they were making new ones.
I had never noticed their teeth were so violent, not their imaginations so devious. What would I do with them?
I thought to protest and gain their apologies, but they worked on. Again, I tried to command their attention, and give them a firm talking-to, but their ears were too consumed with the sound of their own chewing, to mind anything that I might say. As a last resort, I ran up and kicked one of them, which turned out to be too big to mind the irritation. Moving to the next, I gave him two assaults for good measure, and the sharp-toothed sneer he sent back frightened me so, I screamed and scampered off as quickly as I could through the growing maze of bodies which I now recognized as sickeningly repulsive.
Alone, and now afraid, the truth seemed so ostentation when it sneaked up on me. Interrupting my reverie as I sat hugging my knees and wishing I could somehow return to what I once imagined too dull and unsatisfying, he cowed me:
“What were you thinking? How could you be so blind: missing the teeth, the indifference to your wishes, the sheer number of these little monsters — all these evidences of imminent danger and vicious conquest you would so insolently ignore? Was it worth it? Huh?”
I hated the voice, but I could not run from it — everything he asked begged answers of my shameful actions, and silenced my now remorseful voice.
What was I to do, where could I go?
And as if in answer, I heard His footsteps — the ones that pounded after me in a game of chase, and marched beside me in a walk about the park — I recognized the weight and tempo of a stride that now made me uneasy rather than unafraid. Once having Him at my side had given me confidence, now it put me on edge.
What would He have to say to me — the truth I expected to hear, but then what? What would He demand, what could I expect?
Then His sudden stillness made me voluntarily lift my head — though it seemed later, as if He had been the One to raise my chin. I saw Him before me with outstretched arms that silently called a name I thought He had long ago abandoned. Home was closer than I thought.
With my permission He spanked the rat pack, and reclaimed His territory — the place where I am safe enough to play, with holes that didn’t go so deep as they once had. And He tells me that with time, He will fill them more, as I content myself with the knowledge that He is tending them. In the meantime He teaches me to play amidst them, since He holds onto me in everything we do — whether I should fly in the air above Him, or fall in the ground beneath Him.
So, peace reigns in my playground again — my Mate and I are close once more, yes, closer than we were.