The Mad Men Who Distract

The rocky landscape of the Coyote Wall area of Washington state. Photo by Tim Graves.

We were sitting in a rocky, high-meadow in the midst of the dry, parched grasses characteristic of the eastern Columbia River Gorge in late summer. It was a place of natural beauty but it was wilderness. Have no doubt about that, it was a place with few obvious signposts.

As we talked, the middle-aged, African American woman saw me. That is, she “got me.” I was an open book to her, yet she listened intently. Her expressions were earnest and encouraging as she nodded her head when I spoke. Her questions clarified. They were non-threatening and helped me to think and consider my future. I knew she was on my side. I knew that she desired for my welfare and not for my harm, to give me a future with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

She touched my arm and patted my shoulders as I sputtered out tentative responses. She wiped my tears looking at me as if I was the most important person in her life. Her love poured over me like baptismal waters cleansing me of pain and hurt. I never wanted to leave her presence.

Until…

Don Draper, in his crisp white shirt, tie, dress shoes, and dark suit walked through the meadow. She didn’t look away from me. I looked away from her. The propaganda-creating Mad Men character distracted me from love that cleanses my wounds, washes the dirt from my hands, and removes the crusty conjunctivitis from my eyes. His church of self destructive desires, his sacraments that poison cultures of respect and caring distracted me from the One. The creeds of false needs and empty doctrines distracted me from the love for which humanity desperately yearns.

The Divine One of many ways never gives up on us. The healing waters that encourage us to love ourselves and others never stop flowing, but the mad men of religious and secular institutions seek to build dams to divert and distract. They push and shove us to fight over a few drops of moisture in a dirty glass while the voice of the divine woman in the dry meadow whispers in the breeze. She calls  to us and waits for us to choose to live in her inclusive, expanding love.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29: 11-14 NRSV. Read in context.) Photo by Tim Graves.

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