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.
Lives alone. Fourth floor, an old … historical … apartment building located in the transition between “downtown” and the “inner city”. Fewer businesses thrive there, fewer lights shine through the night, more homeless consider this “their turf” . Both, building and apartment, have maintained oldish, musty, themes and appearance from earlier decades. During winter, he is content keeping the steam heat low, with the room temperature, around 50. Warmth comes from his layered and weathered being: two shirts, polar fleece, rag wool socks. Warmth comes from many books on many shelves … to fortify the walls of his apartment-castle. Warmth comes from music, flowing indirectly from many years before: Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie; pieces composed by guys like Rachmaninoff and Brahms and Beethoven; Piano Guys; Crosby Stills and Nash; Carol King, Bruce Cockburn; Lena Horne. A dark green wing back chair, parked on an Oriental rug that stretches out twelve feet one way and nine feet another. He reads books, here, in this chair; he sips tea; he thinks about his journey and his story, at times making sense of things. He forces himself out of his safe place, when he can: volunteering at the library to read stories for kiddos; working at the food bank; and walking to the park where he reads … if the weather holds out.
Tozer wrote a piece entitled “A Sanctified Imagination”. As a result of that read, I attempt to practice this “sanctified imagination”. This particular imagery above visits often. But this is the first time I have released it, on to the great white. There are times when such a release happens without much of a notice. Thanks for letting me get this out of my soul.
“Healer”, not literally. In the realm of relationships, “healer” connects with change. “We are hurt in relationships, we find healing in relationships.” (Anonymous). This post is a metaphorical narrative.
The healer …
comes to the thick of the wilderness, starts her fire, stokes the fire, pulls a few sitting-stumps close, and sits by the fire. The healer’s eyes are kind, with a spark; seeing deeper into the wilderness of men and women. Seasoned, calm countenance, the healer brings to the wilderness hope … hope never given lightly, never received lightly. This healer is a redemptive disruptor.
Sojourners come to this place in the wilderness to see the healer, to sit by the fire; a fire that brings light in the night. Some sojourners want to be known, want to be seen; others cautious of being known, being seen. The fire is a healing process: at times unpleasant, illuminating incorrect thinking, problematic emotions. Sojourners face the healing of the flame, with different styles of avoidance. In the wilderness, some things need to change, some things need to go.
Sojourner sits across from the healer, the other side of the fire; cautiously and respectfully, for a short period. The healer listens, thinks about the spoken, thinks about the unsaid. The healer speaks, while listening, her words are healing words; questions intentional; silence accentuated. I am reminded of a dialog in C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia (my paraphrase):
Peter: “Is he (Aslan the lion) safe?”
Mr. Beaver: “Is he safe? No! He is not safe. But he is good.”
The healer’s eyes, not always safe. But they are good. Change agents are that way. The healer’s mind is good, but not readable. The healer’s work is important, but not predictable. The sojourner’s stay is for a short time, meeting with the healer; leaves with peace; a sacred, arcane, peace.
So much written about R.W. Thus, Solomon’s piece, at the core of my writing: “It’s all been said before.”
Here some thoughts of a disc-jockey in “Good Morning, Vietnam”, a professor in “Dead Poets Society”, Mrs.Doubtfire, Teddy Roosevelt in “Night at the Museum”, Ramon the penguin in “Happy Feet”, Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace in “August Rush” … Those are a few parts of Robin Williams.
And here are a few parts of who I was, and how I was blessed, and impacted, by Robin Williams, and his art. I was the class comedian, high school; a joke for anyone and everyone. The rush of making people laugh was amazing. I studied the great comedians: Robin Williams, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfield, Steve Martin. Out of these mentioned, and those I have not mentioned, Robin Williams was … at times … present: where I was, what I was doing. I read a magazine interview with Robin Williams, and among the many things I read I remember something that wasn’t so cool. I paraphrase: Williams said that at times, when he was not doing well, he had to go somewhere by himself.
I was blown away by his prolific spontaneity linked up with priceless humor. I also couldn’t shake the idea that there was a dichotomy happening: humor / laughter with melancholy / depression. The mixture of these two forces haunted me a bit … and it was because I wanted my depression that I had struggled with since I was a child to be separate from everyone. I wanted to go to Robin Williams for robust laughter, and I did not want to know that the man who made me laugh struggled with depression like I did. Incidentally, I didn’t know, when I was a child, that it was depression. I didn’t learn that it was depression until I was in graduate school (my late thirties) … Sounds crazy. Robin Williams, to a large degree helped me to release some of my “crazy”, and to be able to sit with all of this, and to laugh through this.
If I could have a discussion with R.W., it might include some of these comments …
“Bro, just to make this clear, suicide, yes, I agree, is wrong.
Just as important, please know that there is no is condemnation coming from me, nor from my God. And, I’ve got no judgment for you.
My heart goes out to your family. I can only imagine that their pain is immeasurable. And its been said that there is no pain up in Heaven. But, I know your heart is good, Bro; and surely you feel some of their pain … But, I don’t know, because I don’t know much about Heaven. And by the way, I hope there are people making you laugh … I’m sure there was pressure, through most of your days, to make people laugh. I know that there are no excuses for ending your life; but there are definitely factors that contributed to your decisions. Our pain, our struggles, our failures, our shame, we are driven passionately away from all of that … toward something that relieves our suffering. And the relief is always temporary. When the performance is over, the Black Dog, depression, remains.”
Robin Williams messed up when he took his own life. I should have permission to tell my close friends when / if they messed up. And my closest friends have permission to tell me when / if I messed up. We can do that without condemnation. Do I condemn Robin Williams for taking his life? NO. Am I angry with Williams? NO, not so much angry, but sad. So, maybe the takeaway is this. We all need to “do” self-care. We need to take care of ourselves; and in turn, we can bless our families. If we are wounded, and we are not doing our own work, then how can we be our best with those we love?
Judi Tench: amazing. Judi Tench plays the role of Philomena. It is one thing to read a book, or watch a movie, and walk away with “Yeah, I liked it.” It is another thing entirely when you watch an excellent movie, and find out at the very end that … this is a true story. It makes to you, I hope, that as I am writing this, I will avoid giving any information away that could possibly spoil this movie, for those of you who have not yet seen the movie. As for Steve Coogan, I really cannot imagine a better actor for that part.
So, here are some themes, words, that may encourage you to see this move:
Portrait of a courageous woman with priceless inner strength and profound resilience;
Disruption that will bring out the bewilderment in you … the bewilderment about how this injustice could happen;
Beauty in a great woman’s character;
This movie will be worth your while, unless you only watch the “action / adventure” movies (Bruce Willis / Die Hard … Do you know what I mean?)