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One of John Steinbeck’s characters is a World War II soldier named “Bugs.” The story of Bugs is a satire on the souvenir-hunting American Gi. Bugs discovers a big, beautiful mirror in the ruins of Sicily. It is six-feet high and two or three feet wide, with a heavy gold-leaf frame on which there are delicately carved cupids and flowers and scrolls. When Bugs sees it his eyes light up. This is the souvenir to end all souvenirs. He decides that he must get this thing back home. At first he plans to bury it–hide it and come back and get it later. But he decides that burying it would be too risky; he doesn’t want to take a chance on losing it. So he devises a sling which makes it possible for him to carry this heavy mirror on his back, in addition to all this other gear. Wherever the outfit goes, there is Bugs with his big mirror. He is enslaved by this thing, obsessed by it. Finally the outfit is billeted on the second floor of a house in Palermo. The stairs are narrow so Bugs devises a rope-hoist and pulls his mirror up outside of the house and into the second-floor window. He puts a nail in the wall, hangs the mirror on it, and steps back to look at it. The nail comes loose from the wall, and crash! The mirror hits the floor, breaking into a million shattered fragments. End of story.

What calls you? What asks you, compels you, attracts you to worship it?

What does the world ask you to worship? Beauty? Success? Wealth? the Bigger and better?

I know I have spent hours in front of a glowing screen, bowing my head to my phone.

Some would suggest we worship the church or a specific set a beliefs and not the God of the impossible who cannot be contained.

We’re fortunate no one is standing from a position of power declaring that we have to fall down and worship when the band plays. We, here, are not threatened with death for what we worship or don’t worship, though there are some in the world for whom that is a reality.

Here, it’s a bit more subtle, insidious. Often what we worship kills us slowly: health and beauty culture that can lead to unhealthy eating that damages our beings, hyper-capitalism that leads to treating some people as tools to be used and not humans made in the divine image; wealth and the image of wealth that can lead to living as if money is fake and risking the lives of our loved ones today; numbing the pain with addition; using dogma–right belief– as a weapon against others, our children, ourselves until no one can see that God is and they are love.

There are reasons to be aware of what we are worshiping, to move through the world with intention, to devote ourselves to that which brings life, love, and hope.

So may we in our times of trouble and struggle, in our times of fire and “going through it,” remember the God who is with us always, who walks the road and the hard times with us, and is the God that brings life and is love.