I recently trained as a literacy tutor through the public library system and have begun meeting regularly with an English learner. Yesterday we discussed the meaning of a list of terms he had encountered in a text book. One of these words, used in a medical context, was disoriented. Next to the term were a list of conditions that can cause a person to become disoriented, such as a blow to the head, infection, dehydration, and low blood sugar.
This morning as I was taking a walk, the full force of this word stunned me, stopped me, and brought tears to my eyes. The word consists of the prefix dis meaning to remove, and the root orient, meaning the East. Clearly, one aspect of being disoriented is to lose a sense of direction, something I’m sure we’ve all experienced, for example, whenleaving an unfamiliar building and looking around to determine which direction is east or west.
The simple, unchanging answer to that common problem–embedded in the word disoriented–is that the sun rises in the East. No matter how lost one is, no matter how dark the night, you can be confident that when the sun rises, you will know which direction is east.
So why was I stopped in my tracks this morning? I suddenly felt the horror of losing the ability to detect where the light is coming from, where truth is coming from. What if disorientation wasn’t just a temporary experience, but permanent? How great is that darkness!
We live in a culture that is more and more disoriented…that cannot perceive the difference between light and darkness, that has lost the ability to turn to the East and find “the Son of righteousness, rising with healing in His wings” Malachi 4:2. Oh, how we need to pray for the light to shine in that darkness and for people who have lost the ability to perceive light to once again hunger and thirst for righteousness.
The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. Proverbs 4:18-19