Look at it!
“So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it on a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.” – Numbers 21:4-9
Moses’ ragtag wilderness wandering people complained, whined, and grumbled at God. They missed Egypt. They were impatient with the route. Bored with manna (which we think of as a blessing) they said, “We detest this miserable food.” Poisonous serpents came among them and many of them died. Was that a metaphor in the mouth of the biblical storyteller? We don’t know. To cure those bitten, Moses erected a replica serpent and the people would look toward it and be healed.
There are things that poison life … attitudes, like anger or jealousy … interpersonal events, like incest or workplace betrayal … systemic violence, like racism, toxic waste, healthcare injustice. The first step and the only chance to heal them is to name them.
Today would be a good day to say “thank you” to a journalist who searches out scandal, exposes greed, columns inequities, photographs homelessness, hunger and war. Today would be a good day to say “thank you” to a therapist who pries and supports and listens and challenges. Today would be a good day to say “thank you” to a whistle-blower, a blogger, a preacher, or a friend who has told an honest truth. Today would even be a good day to check out the fangs in the mirror.
God, I am ready to look at the poisoned and poisonous parts of my life and the most twisted coils of my society. Show me. Forgive me. Help me heal and become a healer. Amen.
Maren C. Tirabassi is Pastor of Union Congregational UCC of Madbury, NH. She is the author most recently of The Shakespeare Reader and Other Christmas Tales.