I’d like to share a story with you from my time here this weekend. Last night, the movies were wrapping up, and as it often is with large groups, particularly ones like ours including children, the phrase “herding cats” comes to mind. I was grabbing pillows and stuffed animals, the boys were searching for flip flops, Dad had his hands full with AV Club responsibilities, promoting the celebrity of the Trow family – Star Wars style. There was a lot going on, but the security of this place and our community had lulled me into a comfort and attitude of ease that is a bit out of my norm, so as I watched little Randolph run ahead of us for the short journey back to our room, I didn’t worry. “He knows where he’s going, it’s dark, but there are lights along the way, he’ll be fine. I’ll see him in the room.”
As I walked up on the decks and didn’t see him with Sam or the other children, my heart paused…but then I told myself, “No worries, he’s already in the room”…Baxter and I entered the room – “Randolph –“ I called out, no answer. “Randolph!” I called out again, this time with more urgency. It’s a small space, but those little boys can be tricky! No answer again…Now, my heart was beating faster, Baxter could sense my fear, and his tired whining stopped. I knew Randolph couldn’t be hurt, I knew he couldn’t get lost – this is a small place that had now become familiar to him and there is an adult friend around every corner. But I knew that he would be scared.
As I picked up my phone to call big Randolph to run a sweep back from the Conference Room, the door opened, and in walked little Randolph. Whew! He had stayed calm, he found his way home again. He was scared and as soon as he was in my arms, the tears came, but he was home. I asked him how he felt, and he said – “It was dark. I was alone. I was scared.”
The fears of a mother came true – he got lost, he was indeed scared. He was on a dark path and he felt alone.
I’ve been on dark paths before and I know you have, too. Like the leader of the synagogue, Jairus, we have been (or still are?) scared of death, we’ve been scared for a child or someone we love who is vulnerable. My tremendously dark and scary paths include when the doctor called to tell me my blood test while pregnant with Baxter had come back as elevated for Downs, and when my father told me he felt a lump in the side of his neck. I’ve also been on some dark paths that weren’t quite so scary, but man – were they long. Like when I returned to work and left my children with a stranger, or when I relocated to an unfamiliar city to follow the man I loved and took a crummy job in order to make the move possible. Praise! I’ve found my way home happily from each of those paths…so far….
We ask ourselves – Where am I going? What am I doing? How many times do we free ourselves to just shrug our shoulders and simply say, “Ok, let’s go.” How many times do we labor and debate and collect a committee to review the pros and cons and hedge and waffle and on and on? How many times do we “do”? Doing can be messy, doing can be scary, but doing will move us – hopefully forward.
An idea from this weekend that has really resonated with me is the lesson of inviting God into our lives. Life is hard, messy, scary. That is not going to change. Inviting God to shine light on the obstacles, inviting God to remind us of our unique talents, inviting God to authenticate and validate our flaws is the first step of “doing”. If we can open our hearts and invite God to enter, that is our first step of simply doing our best today. While the path may be long, and dark, and scary – we are no longer alone – and that is a change that we have generated. As My Morning Jacket tells us, “Like the rhythm of the earth, I get disrupted.” We need to let ourselves get disrupted, and we’ll find that doing our best today, will lead to doing our best tomorrow, and the next day and the next and the next. Then some day, we will look back over the journey – we will look back along the dark path – and we will see that we have come home again and that the trip was good.
Thank you for walking alongside me on the journey of this weekend. May God travel with us all this afternoon and deliver us safely home again. God Bless and Peace be with you all.