There’s the real universe. Then there’s a parallel universe. It’s called advertising. You know, where everyone is beautiful and smiling and laughing – because they’re tech savvy. All salespeople and salesclerks are über friendly and helpful and SO rabidly pleased to see you. Everyone has brilliant white teeth, is robustly healthy, painstakingly coifed and bursting with joy and energy (thank you, probiotics!). The elderly in nursing homes are thrilled to bits with their fabulous new surroundings, wondering why they didn’t make the move sooner. Families are the epitome of love and color-coordination. Cleaning up spilled milk is the high point of the day with the latest cleaner upper product. Even the pets are groomed and obedient, smiling even, having just tasted the best pet food on the market. And the cars!! Sleek, shiny, clean, bold, fast, (expensive, yes, but you’re so worth it, your highness!) And the list of enticements continues beyond the night sky. All appeal directly to our sense of entitlement, acknowledge how unique we all are, promise to make us younger, thinner, healthier (if the side effects of that new medication don’t send us off to buy the farm), more stunningly gorgeous, more popular, more successful, richer, more fulfilled, completely free of the obstacles encountered by lesser mortals – all this, simply by investing in the product on offer! Payment plans are readily available – for our convenience. Ahh! Life is good! But the television/computer/smart phone has to be switched off at some late-night hour, at which point the other universe is caught breaking and entering.

We are not of this world. We are aliens, foreigners, outsiders. Henry David Thoreau wrote: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” We, indeed, as Jesus’ apprentices, are having our hearts tuned to the clear beat of a Different Drummer. We are in the process of unhearing the familiar, the old, the passing away muchness, and beginning, one riff at a time, to get in sync with the otherworldly, the new, the birthing glory of the eternal living into which we’ve been loved. It’s all fresh, invigorating, thrilling, this new rhythm sounding in our souls. And inviting, too! There is still a voice that distantly whines for us to return to the parallel universe, to indulgence in the earth-bound, now alien delights, to re-establishing a living for self alone (i.e., You do you!), to prideful preening, to the dark side. But as we lean further in to the way of Love that’s captured us, that smarmy other voice dims, fading to crickets chirping. And we emerge progressively freer to live each day to the full, being true to our Different Drummer in every way.  That’s Shalom, y’all!  PD

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