Runners

I worked with high-risk adolescent males in a residential treatment facility (RTF), years ago, up in the foothills of Colorado, 45 minutes west of Denver.  It was an older house, well-built, fairly large … originally a bootlegger’s house during the Prohibition.  A (hidden) trapdoor from the main floor provided an escape route down to the garage: the gangsters’ getaway car parked and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Fast forward to the (RTF) in the late nineties: we had a cross-section of kiddos, a variety of criminal offenses.  One young fellow showed up, transported to our facility by county sheriff officers, handcuffed in an orange AWOL jumpsuit (not uncommon). “AWOL” (Absent WithOut Leave) referred to an individual who was a “runner”.  “Without Leave” simply meant leaving without permission.  This boy frequently tried to escape the supervision of police and treatment staff.  Some AWOL’s were fast; others,  not so fast. This particular kiddo (I learned the hard way) was one of the fast ones.  I stood at the counter processing the paperwork, saw that the boy had slid over from a bench on one side of the room to a bench closer to the door.  I told him to get back to the other side of the room.  He stood up, started back, but like a flash turned around, rocketed himself out the door.  The chase was on, around the corner of the building.  We sprinted through the trees.  Uphill, downhill.  I was keeping up with him, calling out to other staff on the property “RUNNER!”  He raced downhill, dropped to the ground, and I flew over him.  I came crashing down, close to a fence.  I saw the boy breathing hard, trying to get air into his lungs.  He jumped up, made for the fence. I grabbed him by his AWOL jumpsuit, and brought him down to the ground.  The next two times the boy ran, I never caught him.  The last time I saw him, he was walking all so carefully across a frozen pond; amazed that he was so brazen to walk barefooted across the ice surface of the pond … ice that could break open at any moment and swallow up the kid.  What a runner.

Runners.  I will never forget that kiddo.  I wonder where he is now. I think about myself, post-highschool and college years.  I had my own style of running.  I ran from my story, my family, my southern town, my calling, my fears.  Image result for Images Quote Not the fear of dying, not the fear of living Now, I run toward coffee and food.  I run toward humor.  I had a season where I ran toward the mountains, the trails, the thick, far removed backcountry with deafening silence.  With the demands of life, my mountain-escape route is no longer available.  Fortunately, I always come back to face the giants.  I’ve learned a little about men: what we run from, what our fears are about; and why we run.  Some men are afraid of intimacy.  Some men are afraid of failure.   Some men are afraid of success.  One of my favorite quotes:

“It’s not the fear of dying.  It’s the fear of living.”

In those realms of isolation, emotional instability, passionless living, our callings are distant; and the fear of living grows. And when fear grows, we run.

Image result for Images Quote Not the fear of dying, not the fear of living

The Branch

I remember the branch. It looked like a creek, a skinny creek with steep banks, or sides.  Maybe it was a creek.  But is wasn’t as a creek.  It was a branch.

“First recorded in 1835, ‘the branch’ (at that time and in that context) is a word for a creek, brook, stream of clean drinkable water.”
(From Wikipedia)

The branch possessed a fair share of curves, maneuvering through a forest of tall pine trees faithfully guarding the branch on both sides.   Massive quantities of pine straw lay at the base of the banks, next to the cool water. Jeff and I were committed  to the adventures of the branch.  This included running starts, catapulting our immortal pre-adolescence over the branch… landing on the deep, spongy, masses of pine straw, perilously close to the water.  There was extraordinary power flying through the atmosphere, upwards of 100 mph.  Jeff’s dog went by the name of “Smoky”, who appeared to be a Labrador mix; a charcoal-gray scoundrel, a real scrapper.  My dog went by the name of “Spotty”: a collie, much more of a refined dog.   Jeff and I would follow a trail that led through the woods, alongside the branch.  When we reached the turn-around point, the dogs were behind us at first, but quickly faded into the forest.  When we reached the place where the trail started, both dogs were there, waiting on us.  We never understood how that worked.  Since the euphoric days of the branch, I am still committed to adventure, amidst those pieces of life I fail to understand.  That is part of the adventure.  There are days when we do what Indiana Jones would do,  “… I’m planning this as I go along.”

Image result for Images Indiana Jones planning this as I go along

 

Seasoned

Re-write

img_1359

April, I walked into the trees, climbed up on a rock, belted out a song and a high spirited howl of joy.  Spring was (cautiously) emerging!  Winter was waiting in the wings until our guard was down.

By May, winter left town.  Summer came too soon, pushing spring out.  An injustice, Spring had flown the coop, way too early.  Seasons can be harsh, unfair, fickle.  Indeed, spring had slipped out the back, Jack.Image result for images Winter in Colorado In the “here-and-now”, leaves are turning their colors, gradually gliding downward.  A one-time dusting of snow came, September.  Other than that, we are holding on to fall as long as we can. img_0848  I am in another season: I am pushing through a few barriers of resistance.  Any of us, at any given time, may find ourselves in such a place; our awareness tells us that change is important; but the change is delayed.

The delay comes out of our reluctance to change; the reluctance comes because there is a “pay-off”.  We are getting something we want from that which needs to change.  To break through the barriers of a difficult season: I need a blend of specific, trustworthy, wise, supportive, and sensitive  individuals to walk with; and I need some time to “sit in” a desert place of pain, to think through the process, the motives for wanting to leave what is familiar, and the implications of stepping into (again) the unknown.  What will change look like?  Peace be with you, sojourning bloggers.  Keep writing.

Getting Out Of The Forest

I’ve been in a forest. A metaphorical, thick, forest; trees so tall.  A forest where some of you have been.  Moonlight struggles to get through the overlapping, entangled, limbs and boughs.  The sun does not always waste it’s time on a wounded, weathered, soul, in an unforgiving wood.  Perception can be mutinous.  

 “Why have I spent time in that forest?”  

“Because it’s where I am supposed to be.”

 Mutinous perception.  More accurately, a lie.  It’s not where I belong.  Hmmm … I must remember that.  “Where am I supposed to be?” Maybe we know where we are supposed to be. Or,  not.  Maybe it is more about vision; honorable longings; redemptive passion.  To follow, and walk out, the vision.  To release that which is good, the passion that speaks of who we are.

 

Seeing


 A man, a woman, sit together, no joy … just pain.  They have come to see the seer, with the hope that she will see … something.  Something that the two haven’t seen.  Something that will help them push through the desert, a harsh desert; and come out on the other side.  The seer hopes to see well, into and through, the fog, the pain, the guardedness.  The seer has every bit as much hope that the two, across from her, will be able to see … that they will see those pieces that connect with freedom.
“How important is it, to you, that you do see?”
The two appear to be stunned, as if no one has ever asked them that question.  And, maybe, no one ever has.  They appear to be stunned, as the question is not just a question; they are being “called out” … called out to take a step forward and see, even if they encounter something that they don’t want to see.  So they run that question, from the seer, through their hearts and minds … to the point that they both ask themselves a different question, “Am I really ready to be here?”
“We want to be here, and we want to see.”
“The information you communicated on your voicemail I received tells me that you are here to work on your marriage.  Depending on what that means … ‘to work on your marriage’ … it may be difficult, painful to see what is problematic about your relationship with each other.  Keep your courage close, your vision alive, your hope strong. Now, let us see what we can see.”
Image result for Images contemplation
https://livingasapprentices.com/2013/05/28/contemplation-and-social-justice/

 

The scenario, above, is a context of seeing; a small allegory.  Allegories and metaphors are powerful, for me, in two ways: teaching, and my own processes of grappling with thoughts I am attempting to resolve.  In my last post (6/24/16), I wrote about my father, Bill Davis, who had passed away that morning.  The grief issue, I am indeed grappling with and attempting to resolve, but I am quite stuck.  To grieve, I think, requires that I “see”; that I see well.  I was talking to another therapist not too long ago.  I expressed to her that … me being a therapist, one would think that I would have a good handle on grief, and how to “do it”.   She said something that validated some of  my cognitive disruption: “I have found that many therapists avoid grief whenever possible.”  Ironic.  The grief process can be quite different for each person.  For me, I am seeing different scenarios where Dad was involved.  And the seeing brings about some disruption, some joy, some great sorrow, some anger.  But grief is not the only context for us, where seeing is so profound.  Seeing comes into play, some days more than others.  When I worked with at-risk adolescents, I found myself seeing something that I truly did not want to see.  It takes courage to see.  It is also a gift to see. I find truth in the seeing; and I find comfort in the seeing.  And in meaningful relationships, we must be able to see.  Throughout all of this, there is strategic seeing.  If we are in the thick of ot, it is not difficult to see … that we are indeed in the thick of it.  In times like that, we must dig down into our heart and soul, and see the hope … see the truth that there is a bigger picture.  The chaos does not define us.  That’s all for now.

Dad Man: A Tribute

Bill Davis, AKA Dad Man on the right.

 

Odd, it is, such a nickname.  Not used exclusively.  We used “Dad” most of the time.  Grandkids called him “Popaw”, who was married to “MiMi” (short i). And if you weren’t family, he was known mostly as “Bill”; sometimes “Billy”; and rarely “Willy”.  Dad Man, also known as Bill Davis, was my Dad, as already Mentioned.  And Dad Man passed away this morning: Friday morning, 7:45 CDT.  We are hugely thankful that he did not suffer in his final week.  In fact, he fell asleep on Thursday the 16th, and continued sleeping until this morning.  Dad Man was on a U.S. Navy ship in the South Pacific, in WWII.  They did “mine sweeps”, sending divers down to release the mines; they would rise to the surface, where sharp shooters could detonate the bombs.  My Dad was a passionate high school basketball coach; a  high school principal; and he loved his golf.  His storytelling ability / giftedness was second to none.  He was authentic, trustworthy, and had real humility.  A great father, a great husband, and he loved to laugh … a laugh that was wildly contagious.

My last post was about the Return of the Prodigal.  This man in the picture is the Dad who always loved me, never rejected, always welcomed me.  A great man, Bill Davis.  I will miss him.