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Lights flicker at the entrance of the cave

by davesandel on November 20th, 2022

Thirty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, November 20, 2022

The Last Sunday of Ordinary Time in 2022

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

Lights flicker at the entrance of the cave

In those days all the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and said, “Here we are, your bone and your flesh.”

It’s 13 degrees outside and the sky is dark. No moon. Too early for stars. The wind has blown a northwest gale all day. I’m falling asleep in my chair, and I think of the Mutts cartoon beside my bed in Austin. Walking along whistling, Earl the dog says, “The Farmer’s Almanac says we’re going to get lots of snow!”

His friend Mooch the cat panics and runs back inside. From deep under the covers, head propped against a big pillow with eyes closed, Mooch whispers, “The Farmer’s Cat’s Almanac says we’re going to get a lot of shleep.”


The Lord said to David, “You shall shepherd my people Israel.”

David grew up sleeping beside small campfires, or in caves. In the steppes of Israel the air was hot during the day and cold at night. Animals came out at night in search of food. Sometimes they attacked David’s sheep, and occasionally they attacked David himself. On those cold nights, David’s experiences were his own, but his security belonged to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Father, who has made us fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.

I imagine the simpler darkness outside my window. The cold stings straight through it. In our small piece of Urbana, Illinois, which has since 1976 been designated one of 13 charter USA Tree Cities, our animals leave their warm earth dwellings and venture out. They know where to find food. Seldom do they attack each other. Garbage cans and back porches and dimly lit alleys all promise plenty. Turkey dinners have already begun inside the houses, and there are more than enough scraps.

God has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.

Can I get a witness? Would we too be happy to eat the scraps of Thanksgiving feasts if we lived in caves all day? No niceties or napkins, but plenty of meat to gnaw off bones, mashed potatoes to chew and swallow, Hawaiian rolls no longer warm, with and without butter, and gravy, and raspberry jam. Would that be alright with you, and me? Would it be fine with our warrior brother David, soon to be king?

Like Paul, David learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. His cave was his castle. Later he became acclimated to glory and honor, and to silk pillowcases, but for the first part of his life – the outdoor, humble, healthy part – David fixed his own food and slept with a rock for a pillow. He curled up inside lambswool, one way or another. David had no complaints. And early on, he learned to pray to God his Father, who sometimes seemed as close to him as his breath.

You are before all things, in you all things hold together, Lord. All things were created through you and for you.

David trusted his God for everything. He wrote songs of praise, reminding himself of God’s presence every day. I imagine that at night he would finish his cleaning up, sing a song, play his harp and lie down quietly, slipping into sleep.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

Eyes already closed, David puts his chin on his chest and breathes deep. Then he prays God would give him a dream that night, as He so often did.

Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.

(2 Samuel 5, Psalm 122, Colossians 1, Mark 11, Luke 23)

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