The Twilight Zone

May 11, 2020

Imagine a world where you can’t eat out, gather in large groups and everything that is normal has been turned upside down. Thursday feels no different than Saturday. The government sent us money on April 15th.  The Twilight Zone? No, just everyday life for the last few months. We live in Ohio, so in addition to all the COVID-19 closures, we have battled a season of continued snow and cold weather. It snowed the day before Mother’s Day, and we are still getting frost warnings on the same days you cut grass.  This time has been challenging on many levels, but it has probably been challenging for the lives of couples. One of the things I love to preach to couples is date night. Well, date night has been cancelled!!! At least the ability to go out has been cancelled. As the weeks progress, restaurants are continuing to open and normal is slowly budding it’s head out of the ground like a spring flower.

Regardless, it is my hope that this season has brought about some good for you as a couple despite the challenges

I loved the Twilight Zone. Even though I was born years after the series first came out, I watched them almost daily in reruns as a kid.  The episode with the bookworm being in the bank vault while a nuclear disaster happens, the slot machine that forces the gambler to jump out of a window, and the guy who cuts his vocal cords to win a bet to stay silent for an entire year… absolute classics. But my favorite was called "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” TIME magazine named it one of the ten best Twilight Zone episodes.

The episode opens, “Maple Street, USA, late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children, and the bell of an ice cream vendor. At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43 P.M. on Maple Street... This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street in the last calm and reflective moment - before the monsters came.”

The power in a small town goes out.  No one knows why.  A boy named Tommy begins a rumor about an alien invasion. He says the monsters do not want anyone to leave the street.  Tommy adds that in the story, the aliens are living as a family that appears to be human but who are actually scouts, and the power outage that they cause is meant to isolate the neighborhood. The adults are incredulous, assuring him that the cause is natural, perhaps the result of sunspots.

But soon, the people living on the street begin to suspect their neighbors might be aliens.  The story takes a dark turn as the tale turns into a all-out mob. The neighborhood turns on itself. The final scene cuts to a nearby hilltop, where it is revealed the shadow that flew overhead is, indeed, an alien spaceship. Its crew are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood's power. They comment on how simply fiddling with consistency leads people to descend into paranoia and panic, and that this is a pattern that can be exploited. They also discuss their intention to use this strategy to conquer Earth, one neighborhood at a time. They then ascend a stairway into their spaceship.

Fiddling with consistency leads people to descend into paranoia and panic

The episode’s closing narration was this, “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill...and suspicion can destroy...and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.”

The blessing and curse of this won't be repeated.

Lessons to be learned... do not allow fear or change of routine dominate our minds. One of the blessings you received over the last few weeks as a couple is spending lots of time together. But one of the curses... is we have spent a lot of time together. That’s your Twilight Zone. Maybe you learned something about your partner, about yourself. Maybe you saw some things that need work.  Make sure you focus on the blessing part of it all.  This season hopefully will not be repeated. But there is a sad part... it won’t be repeated, so use it to your advantage.

Let the past few weeks be seen as an extended vacation, not the end of the world. Maybe we needed it, maybe our heads, hearts and lives needed a forced vacation.

The 23rd Psalm begins. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.”  It is the term makes that always catches me. The shepherd didn’t ask, or suggest, or remind. He makes me lie down in green pastures. Often for good reason. I need to lie down and take a break. Maybe the break from the world will change the world, will change us.  

If you have not been using this season as a time to work on your relationship, there is still time. May will be better, but not completely normal.

And if nothing else, now you have something to search up on Netflix.

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