One of Jules Feiffer’s cartoons has a woman approaching a wise man, asking him “Whither?” The wise man points to his left, and says “Thither.” So she disappears in that direction, only to be met by a loud “SPLAT’. She returns banged up, and asks again, “Whither?” The wise man points once more to his left and says “Thither.” Again she disappears off screen only to be met again by another loud “SPLAT”. She returns even more disheveled, asking for a last time “W-W-Whither?” The wise man points to his left, and says “Thither.” “No, no, no, no, no, no,” she screams. “Why Thither?”
The wise man replies: “In life there is only one thither…and it’s a mile past splat.”
Whatever thither your life takes, that thither will run through SPLATS. And this is why we can’t let SPLATS detour us in our journey through life. If we do, we’ll never get any where. And it’s also the reason we must have faith that there is a better life beyond the SPLAT, and we must have determination and courage to face those SPLATS.
But here’s where we have a significant advantage over the woman in the Feiffer cartoon. We don’t have to face the SPLATS alone. We can face them as a community of faith.
Harold Blake Walker describes an important lesson he learned from a Wyoming cowboy, who learned it from Hereford cows. Winter storms tend to take a heavy toll on most cattle. When the wind is blowing and freezing rain assaulting them, most cattle will turn their backs to the storm, drifting in the direction of the wind, until they reach a fence or other natural barrier. Then they pile up, and die. Hereford cows, however, are much hardier. These cattle face the wind together and head into the storm side by side, and when they can go no farther, they stand shoulder to shoulder facing the storm’s blast together, with their heads down against the onslaught. “You almost always found the Herefords alive and well,’ said the cowboy
Face the storms, and face them together. For me, the saddest thing about the woman in Feiffer's cartoon was that she was trying to travel through the SPLAT by herself. That’s something nobody should ever have to do. We travel together, facing the storms together, and making it beyond together.
This is the way of the church. God beckons us forward, Jesus travels with us, and the Holy Spirit empowers us. And traveling together there’s no SPLAT we can’t get through, as individuals, and as a community of faith.