There is a quiet place, a secret place, that is yours for restoration. There is a realness in the stillness. Go there, when you can; when you need to. It's safe. For me, it is the Other Side of the Trees.
Nights, sometimes endless …Inside, a burning fever, a fever of fearing the future, but longing for more … a fever summoning me from the slumber I cherish. I feel like there is something wrong. This is not where I am supposed to be. This is not the way life is supposed to be, a paradox, accentuated by that quote: “The hardest place to be, is right where you’re at.”
It takes an effort to go into the place, metaphorically a small storage shed, where some thoughts might need to be tweaked or discarded; where emotions need to be checked; where self-pity needs to be conquered, left on the battlefield for the wild animals to feast on … And a question that resurrects me from my restless soul: “What do I know to be true?” I know that I am a good man, that I do have what it takes. I know that I do have hope, passion … That they are not gone. They just to be tapped and released. There is a process. And it is part of my calling to be faithful to the process, and there is some mystery in the process. That’s okay. And a restless soul is not always a bad thing.
Paris fighter jets hammering Raqqa with bombs. 7 darkened souls tracked down in Belgium. Suicide bombers being identified. There is still loss in Paris. I am haunted and humbled. My day: get up on time, make it to church. Pick up kiddos, 2:30, after weekend youth retreat. Walmart prescription. Home; laundry; wood in for the stove because some snow’s coming; get the fire going, get the kiddos dinner. Be a good husband; be a good dad; try to make something out of this old, weathered, life, that will hold some redemptive value. Then I think about Paris: hellishness-trauma-loss-violence-fear. I was driving east down Bowles in 1999 April 20th in Littleton, CO. and saw a SWAT unit, not one not two but three, and so many police cruisers-different counties … I turned on the radio: there was a massacre going on at Columbine High School about 10 minutes away, just off Bowles. In 2001, September the 11th I was at work, Denver Rescue Mission, watching on the two massive TV screens in the auditorium, two planes crash into the towers. A report came in, as I stood by Jon Gettings, that the fourth plane had been hijacked. Jon slowly looked at me …“It’s still going on.” Yes, It is still going on. Different ways, different places, different times, but loss follows, and fear, and confusion, pain, anger. I pray, I grieve, I hope, and … I don’t know what else to do. I still have to work. I continue to love my wife, my kids; and I continue to go out and get three or four trips of wood for the stove. God help me, to not get numb, desensitized. And help me to do what I need to do. And help the good guys wipe out the bad guys.
I’m fortunate in so many ways … Countless ways. Even the wounds are a gift. For I I learn from all of this. Every week or every other, I meet with a wise woman, walking with me for a short season. I bring a few pieces for the puzzle; I reach down, I reach out, to find pieces that might fit. Sometimes a piece will fit. I might want a piece to fit, but it doesn’t. I just keep the pieces coming. I call this process “Puzzle-ing”.
Public School really needs to be a safe place for our kids. In Kayleb’s case, I don’t know all the facts: I was not there. But based on what information is available, it’s wrong for Kayleb to have to endure this. Absolutely wrong. Then again, there will always be injustice among children … on this side of heaven. It’s still wrong.
Three days ago I walked out to see how much snow was still on the ground. A few patches in the shady places, where sunlight filters through the trees. My thoughts were that Spring is coming through the mountains; that we had seen the last of snow. Such thoughts were in the space of obliviousness. I had not checked the weather, which according to some folks up here is a cardinal sin.
Two days ago some of the people I work with were talking it up:
“They’re saying up to two feet above 8,000.”
“Oh, it’s gonna happen. It’s going to be a upslope.”
Yesterday morning, the snow was just getting ramped up. Around noon, I had to push through my reluctance and the thick snow on the driveway. Snow blower doesn’t work, so it was me and shovel. We finally measured our driveway a while back. I would not have guessed, but its 450 feet long. There is a curve in the middle. I embraced the thick wool dungarees that I bought in 1992 at a thrift store; a t-shirt; a workout jacket; a polar fleece; wool hat; Sorrels snow boots; and some gloves (one right, and one left). I attacked the snow, driving back my nemesis (one of my nemesis), to the sides of the driveway. I felt like Gandalf, not with a staff but with a shovel, standing against the bellrog: “YOU … SHALL … NOT … PASS!!!”
By evening it was hammering pretty good. This morning, I looked out the sliding glass door at the two feet of snow. Ahhhhh. Just what I was looking for: more snow to shovel on my 450 feet steep-steep driveway. So … switching gears. The metaphor of the snowstorm connected with my heart and mind. I’ve been in a difficult season that has gone on … way too long. There have been several events over the last 7 years that have knocked me off the horse. In some ways, I have been a hiding man. In other ways I have been a wounded man. A handful of people, who know me well enough to speak candidly with me, have said numerous times over the last seven years: “T: get back in the game …”; “Get back on the horse …”; “You know what you’re supposed to be doing, so do it …” I don’t resent their counsel. They are right. And yet, I see some logic to the idea, expressed in this hypothetical question: “Why should I get back on the horse … just to be knocked off, again?” The snowstorm metaphor. I have no choice but to push back the snow. The snow cannot win. I have what it takes. As Winston Churchill said: “This will be our finest hour.” Chances are that some who are reading this post might have experienced some of the same anguish, some of the same type of dilemma. So, are we going to do this? Are we going to push through?