“Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongues from evil and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:12-14, NIV)
The subtitle or note next to Psalm 34 talks about how David wrote this psalm at a time when he was feigning insanity before Abimelech, in order to save his own hide.
For many of us in the modern era, faking insanity makes no sense (other than for Bernie Madoff, and/or Crazy Eddie, who’s offering Chevy Malibus for no money down… practically GIVING them away). When so much of what surrounds us is already a bit insane, a little personal loopiness doesn’t quite have the same impact it used to have.
So I chuckled when I thought of what David had in mind when he cooked up this plan: did he come out of a prayer time with a sudden revelation: ” Hey! That’s it! I’ll pretend I’m nuts. They’ll be scared of me, or have no strategic use for me, and then they’ll let me go. These morons probably think insanity is contagious.”
Which actually is partly true: insanity is contagious… you get it from your kids. I know — this is just a silly Erma Bombeck style bumper-sticker sentiment. It’s also not very true, as long as we are careful not to let it become true. If we let our kids, our jobs, or the tricky details of our complex lives MAKE us crazy, then we have probably given ourselves over to anxiety. When we are anxious, we are not trusting God, and we will lack that basic inner peace that David wisely advises we seek, and lack of inner peace often leads to conflict interpersonally.
On the other hand, it is precisely because he was grounded, sane, and in touch with God that David was able to safely deal with the insanity that was trying to disrupt his life and un-do God’s plans (kings hunting David down, his own son wanting to kill him –all that fun and completely functional [?] Judeo-Christian behavior). So I guess Crazy Davey was crafty and wise: he mocked and used the chaos that so agressively tried to force its way into his life, instead of letting it control him. He did not give in to the chaos, but he did not deny or ignore it, either.
Speaking of chaos: we had some seriously weird, chaotic stuff happening at our house this week. It’s Graham’s spring break from school. But because my wife’s working full time (her break is next week… go figger), and because I am teaching some afternoon classes this term, I arranged to have my sister Laura and her kids watch Graham on Tuesday. The plan was to have the aunt and cousins spend the night here Monday, a bit closer to the city, so they could go see a children’s theater show, and then Tuesday morning Laura and the kids could take the elevated train from our house into downtown for some other museum-type activity.
But then their dog Whiskey (I offered to let them bring him) got out of our backyard Tuesday morning, and I didn’t have to feign insanity one bit, because I really felt my head starting to explode.
I woke my sister, who woke my nephew, and we went out looking for the dog in our separate cars. Laura even had to pump gas in her jammies, since she had not taken the time to change. Eventually, after almost an hour of driving through nearby neighborhoods shouting “Whiskey!” (can’t imagine what my neighbors think of me now…), and after having Laura’s neighbor check her answering machine, somebody who lives about 15 blocks away coaxed Whiskey into her yeard, called his tag’s phone number, and we went to pick him up.
We’d lost a couple hours, though. So the plans for the day had to be adjusted. But we didn’t fight and scream and blame and cry. We just dealt with one problem at a time. To her credit, my recently-divorced sister took it all in stride. “I’ve been living kind of like this for almost fifteen years now,” she explained. Like David, she has found a certain amount of peace and sanity by now, simply by living through some pretty strange circumstances.
So around lunchtime we trained it downtown together, and they shortened their activities, while I went and taught in the Loop. Then we met up again around five in a comic book shop (my nephew Bill is the thirteen-year-old, and a Batman nut), and left to take the Evanston Express train back home. All in all, a strange and wonderful adventure.
Quote of the day, in response to her 13-year-old brother calling her paranoid:
“You’re parannoying!” – Jessica Mills, age 8
Yes, sweetie. We’re all a little paranoid. Because life can get pretty parannoying sometimes. And none of us is a superhero. Nevertheless, we help each other out, and make the best of it, and it can still turn out pretty good sometimes.