I fully expected a measure of pain today, but it never materialized.
It’s been about ten years since I last had a tooth cavity filled, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover how the technologies of dentistry have advanced in that span.
The doc used something on my tooth that sure looked like a drill from the bad old days—but it came with none of the unpleasant sensations or acrid odors I recall from days gone by.
The filling material is apparently new, too: troweled in place with a couple of quick flicks…and then hardened with some sort of light-saber contraption, wielded by the dental assistant. Its color even matches that of the tooth it repairs.
Best of all, the whole thing was over in less time than it used to take for the shot of Novocaine to kick in. And as an added bonus, I didn’t wind up drooling—or slurring my words—for the next hour or two.
There was, in short, nothing to warrant even the low-grade anxiety I’d been feeling in advance of the visit. My fear (such as it was) far exceeded the reality of the situation. And that got me thinking: It’s often the same way when we approach opportunities for spiritual maintenance in our lives. Who looks forward to going to confession, after all? Or how many times have we artfully dodged an invitation to attend a retreat…or take part in an evening of prayer?
I suppose we come by this reluctance honestly. It’s been that way for holy men and women throughout the millennia. In today’s reading from Exodus, we’re told how the Israelites reacted to a vision of holiness in their midst:
When Aaron, then, and the other children of Israel saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him.
It’s certainly not an isolated episode: Scripture is replete with stories of those who allowed fear to keep them from fully embracing God’s promises. But maybe we’re just cheating ourselves when we allow that to happen.
Imagine the power that comes instead from faith: The unshakeable conviction that there IS a God-shaped filling…for every cavity we experience in our lives.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.