Some years ago at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, I played with an exhibit made of sprockets and chains enclosed inside a large case of clear plexiglass. There was an exposed crank that viewers could turn. The crank turned a shaft with a very small sprocket connected by bicycle chain to a very large sprocket on a second shaft. Adjacent to that large sprocket was another small sprocket which was in turn linked to large sprocket on a third shaft. And so on.
Each ratio was 1:10. That is, the first small sprocket had 10 teeth. The first large one had 100 teeth. If you turned the crank 10 turns, the second shaft would turn once. It would turn the third shaft 1/10 of a turn. Which would turn the fourth 1/100th of a turn. Which would turn the fifth shaft 1/1000th of a turn. And so on up through 10 stages.
Of course, most people tired mentally long before they had turned the crank 25 turns. Their efforts seemed to disappear into nothing. You could have stood there cranking for a half hour without seeing any perceptible movement of the tenth shaft. Ten-year-old boys would be the exception. They'd stand there cranking, determined to will the laws of physics into a new order until their families tore them away to get lunch.
Jesus had to cleanse ten lepers to get thanks out of one. Atcually, this is another way of saying, "Only one out of every ten people is going to accept my witness--and that's on my very best day when an extraordinary act of healing has taken place in front of God and everybody. And they will very likely be the people y'all don't like."
One out of ten.
Not a ratio to write home about. But still something...
The young woman prostrating herself before the gravestone above?
She is Mary McHugh, the fiance' of Army Sgt. James John Regan who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Google his name and read about his story in his hometown newspaper (Manhasset/Mineola, New York) or any of the many online stories about him.
Here in America today we are running a 1:49 ratio. Only one out of every 49 families has someone like James John Regan serving in our armed forces or a grieving young woman like Mary who never got to spend her life waking up next to the fine young man she loved with all her heart.
She never even got to wear the title "widow". Her grief is officially unrecognizable to the government and almost the entire nation.
Not a ratio to write home about.
Except that it will never improve unless we all write home about it.
Pray for new things in this new year. Peace would do. So would life.