Adrift in a Sea of Silent Screams

When the girls were little, they would bicker in the backseat as I drove. I’m sure this has never happened in your world. Don’t judge. One day we were making our way from Point A to Point B and I simply reached the end of my rope. No one saw it coming, but as stealth as night a scream filled the car. It was loud, and it was mine.

After a startling moment of silence, backseat sniping melted instantly into laughter. Pretty soon, we were all screaming and laughing as if it were one sound.

That one afternoon of frustration evolved into a game – The Screaming Game (very original title). The rules were just as original – someone says, “Let’s play the Screaming Game,” and everyone starts screaming.

I miss that game. Not the loudness, really, but definitely the loudness. I miss the way fake screams sound from little girls. I miss how the girls thought they were getting away with something that they weren’t supposed to be doing.

I need that game. We all need the Screaming Game. How often do you think you are at the end of your rope only to learn that it’s just a kink? There’s a lot more rope ahead – a lot more scream-inducing rope.

Problem is – screaming isn’t really socially acceptable. In fact, it’s frowned upon in crowded public venues. A scream in a crowded mall might send the signal that someone is in need. But, that’s my point. How many of us are walking through our daily lives in need?

Where in polite society is one to scream out their pain?

Roller coasters are an option. I hate roller coasters. They make me sick and scare the you-know-what outta me. But – at least, no one thinks twice if you scream on a roller coaster.

Haunted houses are an option, and it won’t be long until they are open for business. I hate haunted houses. I know they aren’t really haunted, but I haven’t been to one since Chainsaw Massacre made it popular to end the tour with a chainsaw cranking up in a pitch-black room. No, thanks. It didn’t end well when I was ten, and I can’t foresee how it would end any better today. But – at least, no one thinks twice if you scream in a haunted house.

If you are one of the lucky ones who has nothing to scream about, you still can’t avoid it.

We all find ourselves deep in a forest of silent screams. We all swim the cacophony of hushed cries. Try as we might to keep it all neat and tidy, there is a trail of unmet pain on door handles, elevator buttons, and grocery cart handles. We bump into and it smudges our sleeves. We pick it up on the soles of our shoes. It’s everywhere we turn – pain – forgotten, overlooked, and neglected.

What’s all the talk of pain? I thought this was a blog about hope.

It is. Yet, hope can become a stumbling block instead of a stepping stone when we misunderstand it. So often we operate under the notion that having hope eliminates pain. We misunderstand hope when we bandy it about like a magic wand. A swish here, and everyone is happy. A zap there, and no more pain.

Hope is no magic wand. We cannot simply wave it over ourselves or others and expect that pain will disappear – at least not immediately. I don’t know the incantation to erase pain instantly. If I did, I’d muster up my very best Hermione voice and tap my wand on everyone I met. Rather, having hope is about putting pain into the right perspective.

Hope is holding on to God’s promises of eternal life. If our hope is in the eternal, then we can trust that the pain of this world is only temporary – even our greatest pain. If our hope is anchored to the promise of eternal life, then we can ride out the storms of this world confident that a day is coming when there will be no more storms. There will be no more pain. There will be no more tears.

When we misplace our hope in the temporary promises of this world, we find ourselves adrift in a sea of silent screams.

That Screaming Game that my girls and I played so many years ago was more than just silly fun to kill time in the car. It changed our perspectives on the situation at the time. We voiced inner frustration (or at least I did), which exposed the anxiety and frustration that festers when silenced. And, that first giggling reaction to what was likely my overreaction at the time – changed the way I looked at that moment.

Imagine how things in our lives would look right now – if we chose to scream our pain to God? How could our perspectives of this limited life be morphed should we hold onto God’s promises of eternal life?

Postscript: As I sat down to edit today’s post, news broke of the active shooter in downtown Cincinnati. I know nothing about the situation beyond the fact that at least three people plus the shooter lost their lives today.  My thoughts and prayers are with all affected by the tragedy. May God support and comfort you during these early moments as well as the weeks, months, and years to come. I pray mightily that the Spirit fill you with hope on your darkest days.

SDG

High Water Mark

As I write this blog entry, the city of New Orleans is marking the thirteenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. On August 29, 2005, Katrina came ashore just east of the city. For those of us in the area, we breathed a sigh of collective relief as peril appeared to skirt around us.

Then . . . the levees broke. Read more

“No Outlet – Dead End”

These days, everyone seems to rely on some form of electronic map to get from Point A to Point B. Not only do these systems direct you “left” and “right,” they chirp cheerfully when traffic builds up or a cop is ahead. No matter how sophisticated the chirp or the English accent of the system – at some point, each one will send you in the wrong direction. Sometimes they may be off by a street or two. Sometimes, more. Once, I ended up at a similar address that was forty-five minutes from where I was supposed to be. Sometimes, you are led the wrong-way up a one-way street or land at a dead end.

You’ve been there. What’d you do? If like most people, you just pull to the side of the road and set up camp. That’s right. Pull a tent out of the back of the car. Lay down roots Make a new home. Yep -right there in front of the sign reading “No Outlet – Dead End.” Read more

The Upside of Down

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12

This verse seemed appropriate for today as I struggled between my self-imposed pressure of producing a typical blog post and being present – here – in the real world. This week – the real world wins out. I don’t have full-length blog post today.

But – I promised to share this journey with you. I’ve worked at being transparent on down days. It wouldn’t be fair to keep the “good” days from you. Today is one of those. In fact, the last few days have been sprinkled with a light-heartedness that has been elusive for quite some time.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time with various family members. We’ve spent time creating new memories. We’ve laughed. We’ve remembered. A few tears may have bubbled to the surface. Then, we laughed some more.

The downside of up is that tears are forever bound with our joy.

For only a few days this week – I am blessed to spend time with my daughter, Megan. These days are precious. These days are short. These days are hers. These are the days that I get to be face to face with her and make our joy complete.

These  upside of down is that our joy is forever bound with our tears.

A couple of things before I sign off. First, an update on Tahlequah and the rest of the J-Pod. They went MIA for a few days but were again spotted earlier today. She is still holding onto her lost calf. (If, like Megan, you have no idea what I’m talking about, click the link for last week’s blog.)

Second, thank you! At some point after last week’s blog, the mysterious thing that measures the inner workings of blog sites reports that “Dances with a Limp” has reached a pretty significant (at least to me) milestone. Over 5,000 of you have taken a step with me along this journey. THANK YOU

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

You humble me. You honor my baby girl. You give me hope!

 

SDG

Lost in Lament: A Whale of a Tale

On July 24, 2018, Tahlequah (aka J35) gave birth to a beautiful baby calf, sending waves of joy throughout the Pacific Northwest. Tahlequah is one of only about seventy-five remaining members of a species of endangered whales. The region’s (and now an international following’s) joy was soon doused in a tsunami of grief with the untimely death of the calf barely thirty minutes after birth. Tahlequah went into full-on-momma-whale mode. For over a week now, the endangered killer whale has been “tending” to her dead calf – meaning she refuses to let go, literally.

For days, she has pushed the deceased calf through the water with her forehead. Tahlequah has carried the calf by its fin. When tides and currents pull the calf’s body under the surface, Tahlequah musters the kind of strength only a parent can and dives deep into the belly of the sea to retrieve her lost baby. Read more

In Too Deep – Part 2

Last week, the Awesome rescue of a Thai youth soccer team captivated our hearts as the feel-good-story of the decade.  Yesterday, the boys and their coach were released from the hospital and are headed home a day earlier than expected. “Awesome” is capitalized purposefully in describing the events, as I can’t help but to see God’s fingerprints all over that rescue.

If you believe like I do that God intervened to make the rescue of the Wild Boars possible, then there is a corollary that we must also acknowledge: Read more

In Too Deep

If you haven’t heard about the plight of a Thai youth soccer team that unfolded over the last couple of weeks, I say, “Have you been living in a cave?” (Poor pun intended) In are, you missed it, twelve boys, ages 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach found themselves in a heap of trouble while inside a cave. In spite of signs warning about the dangers of the cave complex – especially during monsoon season – there they were doing what boys will do, writing their names on the wall as part of an initiation. The rains, however, failed to check the calendar and came early. The cave began flooding, and the boys were forced to seek refuge deeper inside the underground caverns.

Have you ever done anything that you were warned not to do? Anything? You know – where the warnings are crystal clear, but you barrel ahead anyway. Appropriately enough, one of my earliest memories involves defiance of clear warnings. Read more