Source: OINOS Educational Consulting
by Frank Marangos, D.Min., Ed.D., FCEP
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” ~ C. S. Lewis
Twenty-first century America has lost its way. With staggering speed we have gone from the generation of “Father Knows Best” to a time when fathers and parents”, in general, are considered irrelevant. Our courts are flooded with lawsuits that attempt to redefine marriage, identity, and normalize the absurd. From a moral and spiritual point of view, America is behaving like the panic-stricken person in the desert who sees the car is running out of gas so he speeds up saying, “I don’t know where I am going or if I will get there but I’m making good time.”
A course correction is necessary for America to survive the current fate of societal disintegration. Faith-based nonprofit organization have the responsibility and privilege to provide an alternate method for dealing with the current stress-filled situation, as we fit in the gap between the dangerous destination that America is headed in and the road to spiritual health that God has originally intended.
This past Tuesday marked a rare calendar date. Feb. 22, 2022. It was a unique mirror date. Since the 22nd day of February, or 2/22/22, fell on a Tuesday, some suggested that the day should have been called “Twos-day”. In addition, the combination of numbers, 2/22/22 created a rare Palindrome, meaning it reads the same forwards and backwards. And to add to the hype, it was also an ambigram. This means that if we arrange the digits of the date in vertical order, it would read the same upside down as well. An ambigram date is an incredibly rare phenomenon. For example, in the current millennium there are only 60 such mirror dates. In fact, We won’t see this sequence again for another 200 years – until 2/22/2222
The word palindrome is the marriage of two Greek root words: palin, meaning again, and dromos, meaning way. The word literally means – “to find the way again.” As such, numerologists call this day magical and associate the date of February 22 with karmic and astrological events that they believe can radically change the fate, fortune, and life-direction of a person. The recurrent sequence of the number two is also regarded as an angel number in numerology, where repeating numbers are believed to possess magic powers.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, some cultures believe palindrome dates are lucky. In addition, the number 2 in numerology references the energy of duality, partnership, relationship, and balance. So, the key characteristics associated with the number 2 are: compromise, acceptance, compassion, and cooperation. Many believe that the number 2 also empowers love, friendship, and diplomacy. When 2 is in sequence like it is in 222, this energy is super-charged. It invites individuals to approach life with more compassion, to seek better balance, to work cooperatively with others, to seek partnership and to strive for harmony.
The study of numerology dates all the way back to the 6th century BC in Greece. When it first began to surface, Pythagoras, as well as many other philosophers, believed that, since mathematical concepts were more practical than physical concepts, there had to be a much more complex explanation as to why certain things occur. To these scientists, it was believed that everything had numerical relationships and there were secrets that a mind would have to uncover. Eventually, the Pythagoreans were led to the conclusion that everything in the world translated and explained in terms of numbers and proportions. This fascinating idea has had an enormous influence on Millennials and Gen-Xers.
Consequently, for many looking for an escape from Covid and other personal challenges, 2.22.22 was a great opportunity for positive change, for empowerment to change jobs, take a trip, invest money, to celebrate a birthday or to consummate a marriage. In Sacramento, California, for example, 222 couples joined at the State Capital to join in a collective wedding ritual. Of course – the ceremony concluded at 2:22 p.m..
In Las Vegas, a particularly popular spot for nuptials, wedding ceremonies have always proven popular on palindrome dates. Nearly 2,700 couples tied the knot on 10/10/10; over 1,800 married on 12/12/12, 3, and 3,125 got hitched on 11/11/11. Overtaking the 222 couples who were married in Sacramento on “Twosday” – 2,939 couples were married by 2:22 PM in La Vegas – becoming one of the top 10 wedding dates of all times.
Incredibly, and for what it’s worth, some people were convinced that Jesus would make his return to Earth on “TWOsday”, possibly signaling the end of the world. But, of course, while that didn’t happen, Russia used the day to begin its large-scale incursion into the Ukraine.
Apart from its numeric and astrological appeal, why were so many individuals drawn to the implications of 2.22.22? Why the fascination – why the hype? In my opinion, the allure and hysteria were a result of the date’s unique opportunity to Palindrome. Not as a noun, but as a verb, as a personal action – a response to an individual’s particular life situation. To Palindrome – exactly what the word means in the original Greek – “to Find our Way Again.”
Frank Warren is the author of a 2007 book entitled The Secret Lives of Men and Women: A PostSecret Book. After a troubling period in his own life, Warren distributed 3,000 self-addressed stamped postcards to people on the street, asking them to anonymously mail him their secrets. It began as a sort of public art project in 2004. To his surprise, the cards started pouring in – receiving over 100,000 in a short period of time. Warren’s public-art experiment was so successful that it led to the creation of PostSecret.com, and many other sites like it where people can anonymously confess their sins or share their deepest secrets.
In his book, Warren describes one particular postcard that included an old photograph of a Santa Claus with two boys on his lap. On the picture were written these sad words, “I wish my sons would contact me.” Another postcard had a photo of someone’s praying hands. “I don’t know how to go back to God,” the Postcard message read. “and I want to – more than anything else in the world.” It is interesting that both cards were about finding a way back home. One from a father’s perspective who missed his sons and wanted them to return, and the other from someone who wanted to personally find a way back to God.
2.22.22 provides a powerful challenge to nonprofit organizations and, most especially, for Faith-Based charitable agencies. While extremely necessary – the challenge is to offer more than merely economic, emotional, and physical resources to the less fortunate among us. The challenge is to faithfully, and unapologetically, also steward the life-changing resonance of spiritual resources so that the broken and downtrodden in our society may be encouraged to Palindrome – to find – and choose to journey on the valuable road of forgiveness, mercy, healing, and reconciliation. To thereby experience relational wellbeing with their loved ones and, ultimately, find their way back to God.
According to U.S. News and World Report (2008), “a growing number of rigorous studies have shown that spirituality – including prayer, meditation, and attendance at religious services – benefits health in ways that science hasn’t fully explained. The Report acknowledges that among other effects, regular worship and other spiritual acts appear to lengthen life expectancy, strengthen immunity, improve the body’s response to stress, and boost other measures of physical health.”
But why then do so many cringe when introduced to what they consider “such a naïve and pollyannish proposition?” What is it that makes it so difficult for us to recognize the personal and societal value of finding our way back to God? Perhaps it’s the rebellious nature of the human heart. If we could have interviewed the prodigal son – described in Jesus’ famous parable – he might have told us that he rebelled and left home because he was sick and tired of his Father’s rules. He may have said that he did not like having to answer to his father for everything. Perhaps, like the Old Testament story of Jacob, the young Prodigal wanted to get away from his older brother. He just needed to get away from home and do his own thing. But like so many today who have lost their way due to their rebellious nature and self-centeredness, by leaving, he unknowingly created his own life’s destructive problems.
Unfortunately, many people would rather continue dysfunctional lifestyles than to turn their lives over to God. They may honestly desire to be helped – but have no intention of surrendering to a Higher Authority to receive it. As a result, they are imprisoned in a web of self-destruction, choosing to hopelessly live in fear, isolation, and emotional turmoil.
Faith-based nonprofit organizations have the privilege and responsibility to share the good news of a better way – that when we are in physical, emotional, and/or spiritual pain, Faith can provide a Palindrome, a way back to spiritual and emotional health. However, the process of restoring our relationship with God must, by necessity, include facing the broken relationships with our family and friends. Becoming right with God involves becoming right with others. But, in order to do that, we have to get over our hurt. We must learn to forget . . . and forgive!
One of the major tasks of faith-based nonprofit organizations is to help people successfully wrestle with such spiritual and relational difficulties. Much like Jacob’s spiritual wrestling match with God described in the OT Book of Genesis, we need to help them courageously face and overcome the issues that enslave them. There is an interesting and rather surprising verse in this description of Jacob’s evening tussle with God. We are told that God was not able to overpower Jacob (Genesis 32:25). How amazing! How is it that God could not overpower a mere man? The answer is significant. Fortunately, because God loves us so much – he sets limits upon himself. In the end, at daybreak, God blessed Jacob and gave him a new name. “I saw God face to face,” Jacob cried, “and my life was spared.” Amazingly, it was this blessing that gave Jacob the strength to face and ask forgiveness from his older brother later in the day.
This is the Valuable Message that we need to share with those in need of such spiritual healing. “If you have rebelled – if you are fighting with God,” we should tell them, “He will not overpower you. He will not crush you and take away your will. He will not force you to come to Him and find your way home. This must be your decision . . . your decision . . . alone!”
According to the American Psychological Association, Millennials and Gen Xers claim that they are significantly more stressed than older generations. They are also more likely to confess that their stress has increased in the past year. According to the APA, overall, 63% of Americans say they are significantly stressed about America’s future. Fifty-six percent admit that reading the news stresses them out. Millennials and Gen Xers were significantly more likely than older people to say so. One might correctly assume that these stress-levels are the direct result of the partisan infighting, climate change debates, and the current threats of nuclear war that are constantly being argued by political pundits.
As unsophisticated as the dispatch may first sound to the ears of our current woke-obsessed culture, the hurting and stressed-out of our society need to individually hear a clear hope-filled spiritual message from faith-based nonprofit organizations: “God cares for you,” we should tell them. “He is looking for you. He is looking for a way he can come into your life and lead you home.”
Like Jacob, we may be wrestling with God. Like the Prodigal Son, we may be running from family and friends. It may be that our life is in an upheaval. We may be victims of unhealthy compulsions. We may have broken relationships that need healing. It may be that we are heading into an uncertain future. The Good News is that God wants to meet us where we are – in any of these circumstances. He created us. He longs for us and, like the Father of the Prodigal Son, he is looking for a way for the two of us to embrace and reconcile.”
In our current stressful, dystopian, and data-driven era, many find comfort and insight in numerology, horoscopes, healing crystals, and in the zodiac—even if they don’t really believe in them. Perhaps that is ultimately the reason for the Hype behind our recent celebration of “Twosday”. But 2.22.22 actually provides a much greater promise than planetary karma, good luck, harmony, love, friendship, and marriage! It signals and invites an opportunity to Palindrome – to find the road back to sanity and spiritual health.