Wednesday, April 10, 2013

And Then, If That Wasn't Enough


I quit my job.  

To be honest, I'd quit my job long before and only a shell of what once was me was still roaming across the floors.  I functioned well, supported the mission, displayed the proper attributes, dressed the part and played the roll, yet I really wasn't there.  I believe that the inertia of nearly 30 years could have carried me for another 3 or 4 years before it became obvious that there was no one in the car.  That alone was proving to be more troublesome in my heart as that would make me yet another eviscerated, old white guy, in an industry full of eviscerated old white guys.  Optics aside - I knew that's not what I was built for.  

Had they allowed me to move into a new role of "Corporate Chaplain", I may well have found new meaning and purpose in my work - I so love the people there and it was their passionate grip that held me together.  There's no desire however, to mix Jesus with office furniture and since he'd twice demonstrated in the Gospels an insubordinate attitude towards that industry by kicking over their tables and chairs; the likelihood of them embracing the idea seemed remote.

God had another plan - but like with Bethany, I have no idea of what that plan truly is or how wild the ride will be.  I see in my mind the path and start following it and invariably the vision becomes merely a mirage leaving me bewildered in a new desert.  I've never found myself thirsty or for want in these wanderings - there's always a bounty of manna and quail, always a beautiful sunset and sunrise, and best of all; always hope.

So in and amongst the stress at home: the seizures, the mania, the never-take-a-real-vacation schedule, the medications, diapers, the constant screaming and hitting - I take another job.  Not just another job like the one I left but another job in a completely new and complex industry full of really smart, eager, young people who move fast and effortlessly in a realm of which my first language is not theirs.  I'm on their turf, I stick out, I'm a "wannabe" in a generation that spots wannabe's with the vision of a hawk.  We're different even in that while I struggle to grow hair on my head, they struggle to grow it on their faces.  While they fumble with questions of inequality in society, I fumble with bifocals.  While they worry about pimples and bullying, I worry about seizures and death. 

 In fact, the only value I offer them is that I know sand.  I know the taste of it, I know how it shifts and how how it consumes.  I've wandered in it long enough to grow familiar with how it shapes my life and I know what they've yet to learn - that life is nasty, brutish and short; that your best friend may one day betray you with a kiss.  I know Bedouins, I know camels, I know how to make a fire where there's no fuel.  I know how delicate and frail and limited the human mind is and how in that simplicity, the most beautiful lessons in mankind are told.

For all that I know, what I don't know is "why".  The "what, where, and when" questions no longer have a place in my life; evidence of maturity I guess, its the "why" question that keeps me up at night.  It's the single question that brought Nicodemus to Jesus' doorstep late that night, its the one that rolls through my head as I hear Bethany scratching the walls late in the night.  Perhaps there is no answer, perhaps "why" is the essence of "trust".  I'v been trusting Him to pull us through the last 16 years of caring for Bethany and he's done a marvelous job of warming us by her fire.  Yes, we smell of smoke and singed hair but we're not cold.  We have in fact been allowed to live life "more abundant" in light of it.

I believe that He has more great things in store for us.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mud Room Meets Meltdown


With a loud crash she rolls under the recycle bin.  Tin cans, beer bottles, cardboard egg cartons; they all go flying over as she slides under.  Her inconsolable screaming is underscored by blood from her cut knuckle smeared on the washing machine, the dryer, and her clothes.  Were it a Passover sign, the angel of death would surely pass us by mistaking the smears as lamb’s blood.

Day two of her frustration.  I know it will pass but the deep biting of her fingers and the blood can only mean a future infection, future bloated and blackened digits, huge antibiotic pills that we need somehow coax down without a vomitus eruption.  The mouth is not only the most dangerous weapon in the world; it’s the most infectious. 

I don’t know what her issue is, she can’t tell us if she hurts or is simply angry.  In her anger she bites, in her sorrow she hits, in an act of consolation as she cries, she pinches herself and all we can do is mop up the dripping blood as it flows.  She’ll never allow a bandage or a compress so we simply follow her around with a cold washcloth.

On this afternoon however, she managed to have a melt down in the small mud-room, entry way of our house.  This is an original mud-room entry way of a 136 year old house, I’ve been in contemporary homes in which the “mud-room” was bigger than our living room and should a child bring mud into that space, hell would erupt from the parent.  No, this one is quite small and uneventful and does in fact, have mud on the floor.  Its small enough that if a good-sized Korean girl decided to have a tantrum and start flailing about like a loose mud-flap on a semi trailer, she’d find herself in a physical jam quite quickly.  That’s exactly what she’s done.  Wedged herself so tight in a corner under a pile of recyclables that we’re not even sure where to begin mopping blood from.  She’s banged her head as well and the tears begin to flow, making that thick blood look more like a good Cabernet, smeared on her sweatshirt.

We manage to pry her out of her predicament but not her situation.  We continue to gently wipe the blood, wishing for subtitles – we know she’s hurting or frustrated but we have no way of knowing why or how to fix it.  All we can do is wait and patiently listen to the screams, watch the flying fists, observe the sad and inconsolable state of this most wonderful gift from God.