Teenage Wisdom

“but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” 1 Corinthians 1:27

Have you ever had the experience where people don’t respond in the way you expect that they will? A time when they actually respond better than you would have given them credit for? What did it teach you, about yourself and about them?

I experienced this first hand recently. And it reminded me that I often judge myself and others around me according to some arbitrary standard inside of me.

My son had been after me for years, to read a series of science fiction books he owned. He had loved the series and was certain I would as well. I had dismissed his suggestion, because the books seemed rather young. He had recently been doing a major cleaning of his room, getting rid of many of his belongings, but he had kept these books because he treasured them and was proud of owning the entire series.

A short time back, I was desperate for something to read. He again suggested the series he had loved. This time I listened and read them. There were 13 books in all. They told a wonderful story of perseverance and the search for truth, while holding up the virtues of friendship, trust and faith. The fact that there were dragons in the story, well that was an added bonus!

The books were quite addictive and I found as I neared the end of the series I could no longer wait till I went to bed at night to read, I needed to know what was happening in the story and I needed to know now! I began to take each book out with me so it would be ever present, in case I had a chance to read.

One day I was out with my son at a doctor’s appt and I brought book # 12 with me. It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized I had left the book at the doctors.

I checked the car and checked the house but the book was gone. I immediately told my son and his response was just a quiet acknowledgement.

The next day I called the doctor’s office, twice. Then I drove there. I searched where I waited and asked multiple people, but it was gone. Losing things is unusual for me. Losing something that held value to my son made me feel terrible.

That afternoon I told him of my unsuccessful search. He again met my story with a quiet acknowledgement.

And I learned something. I learned that my behavior in the same situation would not have measured up to my son’s response. Aren’t teens expected to react with drama and intensity? When I mentioned to him, how impressed I was with how he was taking this loss, he assured me, “Mom, you didn’t do it on purpose, it was an accident. It’s just a book.”

True. But I knew in my heart that when people do little things that threaten what I value – even if it is an accident, that my first, second and third responses often include anger, frustration and an overwhelming need to vent.

But deep down, I agree with my son. I don’t actually value things higher than people, so why doesn’t my behavior better reflect that?

I told him he had taught me something. Now I need to live like it was so.

(post script…..the book never was found but I have replaced it!)


A landslide

As the CD slid into the player, a voice inside me, said, “It’s time.”

And I knew the words would come.

For months after my father’s death, I used music to minister to that place inside of me that needed a voice.   Other people’s words, through song, would open my heart and allow the tears to flow, the sadness to wash over me and give voice to the weight of what I felt.

One song in particular spoke to me.   I had heard it on the radio one day and knew it was the song that would become part of the road leading me to a new place.   Once I had the CD in hand, I began playing it.  Hundreds of times.   And each time, the tears would come.

Except today.   There were no tears.   No great heaviness.  Just an awareness that it was time.

When I first started listening to the song, I didn’t like parts of it.   It didn’t exactly fit, I told myself.  But the more I listened, the more honest I became with myself.   And I realized, it fit perfectly.

But the song alone seemed to be missing something.   There was this intangible thing, an idea, I felt was floating around in its intention, but not called out by name.   And then I found a poem by William Randolph Hearst called The Song of the River.

Here is an excerpt:

“The snow melts on the mountain,

And the water runs down to the spring,

And the spring in a turbulent fountain,

With a song of youth to sing,

Runs down to the riotous river,

And the river flows on to the sea,

And the water again

Goes back in rain

To the hills where it used to be.

And I wonder if Life’s deep mystery

Isn’t much like the rain and the snow

Returning through all eternity

To the places it used to know.

For life was born on the lofty heights

And flows in a laughing stream

To the rivers below

Whose onward flow

Ends in a peaceful dream.

And so at last,

When our life has passed

And the river has run its course,

It again goes back,

O’er the selfsame track,

To the mountain which was its source.”

And the song I’ve been stuck on, took on new meaning for me……

Listen with me….

http://youtu.be/W3cGxlZjMWU     (Landslide by Fleetwood Mac)

My father’s death was the beginning of a landslide.   Realistically, I knew that the landslide wouldn’t kill me but I also knew that it would be a rough ride.  That parts of it would feel like I was suffocating under debris.   Landslides demand a downward motion.  All I could do was tuck and roll.   I could not and would not, fight the inevitable.

I had tried to convince myself that I hadn’t built my life around my parents.    My husband and I have built a good life.   We had made our own family.   Yet, I had stayed in the town I was raised in, and I had chosen to stay because of my parents.   I wanted my life built around them and made it so.   And now part of that was gone.

But I could see my father’s reflection everywhere.  It’s true that a reflection isn’t the same as the person, present and in the flesh.   But in many ways it took my father dying to really see who he was in life.   Parts of him, I hadn’t notice or understood became clearer.  My appreciation became deeper.  Of course, that comes with its own regrets but I’m guessing this kind of hindsight is pretty common.

And I started to think more about how I wanted to reflect him, intentionally.   Some of his best attributes were inside of me.    While he was alive, I didn’t need to tap into them much.   He was here and why settle for a student when the Master is present?   But with him gone, one way to truly honor him was to continue the good he had always done.

I had been trained my whole life for this.   By him.  By my mother.   He was gone but not forgotten.   So what could I do with those memories?   And how could I make peace with honoring him in a way that didn’t negate the fact that although he is in me, I am also a very different person from him.   I needed to accept that our goals could be the same while the way of achieving them could look very different.

But all that was just one more way of figuring out how to cope with the loss.

I imagine that when a landslide ends there is silence.   And then, slowly, evidence of life reappears.   The landscape has changed some, it looks less familiar but beauty will unfold again.  Birds start singing.  Flowers push through the new earth.

To live, stuck in the memory of the landslide would be to live forever trapped under a devastating force.    To live looking over my shoulder in anticipation of the next landslide would be to live in constant fear and dread.

But to see the landslide and to accept it, as both an ending and a new beginning – that is where both hope and life are found.