Open the Curtain…

The work light is focused directly above me, its warmth a welcome relief as I sit and await the curtain opening.  I have a few moments to ponder this next scene as the set is re-arranged behind me preparing for a dramatic closing number.  Most people don’t find themselves sitting in a wheelchair wearing fishnet stockings and high heels at my age but life does require risks.  I think back over my life as I prepare to reveal legs that maybe aren’t the prettiest nor the most athletic anymore, proudly showing their nearly 50 years of use.  I think briefly about my seminary professors and overly opinionated church leaders who directed and shaped my early ministerial career, how this moment is far removed from those days.

I’m glad to be distanced and separated from the mindset that seeks to destroy everything that isn’t deemed sanctified and holy by a select few.  I’m glad to be surrounded by the likes of folks considered so unworthy, folks whose company a man of great honor would never consider being associated with, so they say.  Performing in a play like Rocky Horror would make the blue hairs and combover’s of my past grasp at thier hearts seeking a diving healing.  Funny how life works. 

What am I doing here?  What was I thinking?  How did I ever manage to get into this situation anyway?  My kids are going to just plain die. 

Soon the rustle of hurried people diminish as the props find their correct places, the last scurry of actors find their marks as the creaking sound of the curtain lumbers overhead.  The light brightens and soon I see nothing but an overwhelming glow from the spotlight, the music begins and people trickle in singing proudly to the bouncing soundtrack.  Lingerie and feather boas accompanied by enough excessive face paint that would scare a small child suddenly surround me. I’m at a loss as I watch the character gyrations intertwine and become one mound of movement fittingly following the beat of the music ever so perfectly.

I count discreetly as my big reveal waits.  The only cue I have is a certain beat in the song and then a count is required to allow me the proper starting place so I finish just as the next group begins.  For me, concentration is hard with all this activity flowing around me, but I must stay in touch with that beat.  10, 11, 12…Time for my lines.  I finish just in time and fling my covering to the side showing the world what aged legs look like when dressed in fishnet stockings, garter belt, high heels shoes, and a bikini.  Legs begin to flail hopelessly in every direction; please don’t let me hurt anybody during this kick fest, myself included.  I’m as lost as a whirling dervish in prayer as I spin, twist, kick, and shimmy about the stage.  What do I care?  This is fun.  I enjoy having a good time.  Besides, I think I look good in stockings.

Far too many run away before the curtain opens and never put themselves out on the ledge.  Only when one feels the danger of falling does the thrill and excitement of living life fully come to the present.  I hope I can keep challenging myself right up till the time I need my own wheelchair and even then I’ll try riding a wheelie.  Living involves risk, risk living a life worth living. 

Live life profoundly….

Tough To Watch…

She forgot to bring her homework from school, again?  What do you mean she can’t find it?  Where did she leave it?  Where has she gone to now?  She’s supposed to be looking for it?  Why is she doing her hair now?  No, I don’t know where your American Girl doll is…Why aren’t you looking for the paper?  You did what with the scissors?  You colored all over the math sheet?  Well yes, it is a pretty, but…

This record plays endlessly in our home.  My youngest has a bad case of focus, or lack there of.  Before everyone plays doctor and details her malady with a series of letters, hold on, her mom and I aren’t just giving in and medicating her.  We are going to look for alternative approaches so my little girl doesn’t become a freckle faced zombie with fabulous red hair.  She has way too much life to diminish her precious, ever-charging mind with the burden of trying to be like everyone else.  She has too much creativity to stifle her ongoing expression.  She is my baby girl and we are determined to shape her individuality positively and not recreate her into a clone image of complete conformity and agreement.

I find myself stealing moments of sadness, alone, knowing the struggle that awaits a creative child in a society that demands acceptance and perfectly groomed behavior.  Without much effort I’m transported back to my youth when similar experiences were all I seemed to encounter.  I too was unable to ever be organized.  I too was always overwhelmed with multiple projects and assignments.  I recall trying ever so hard to listen to the teacher and for a few moments actually being faithful with my complete attention, but soon everything else possible began to yell my name.  Didn’t Tommy wear that same shirt two days ago?  How come Jan ties her shoes like that?  Wonder what Freddy’s dog is doing right now?  Look at that bug flying by the window?  Why does my Grandfather deal cards with his left hand when he bowls with his right?  The teacher seems to be talking directly to me but for some strange reason I don’t understand what she’s saying.  I’m looking right at her, watching her mouth move but something just isn’t registering.  I suddenly feel a jar for the boy next to me and instantly I’m brought back to the present reality.  Not only do I not know the answer to the question she is asking, I don’t even know what question she just asked.  There is only one thing to do in a situation like this; it’s what seems to be needed the most…Entertainment!  Ladies and gentleman please give a warm welcome to today’s featured performer…And off I would go.

Knowing this fight awaits her and little that can be done to prevent its occurrence leaves a parent most disheartened.  Is this an educational problem?  Somewhat.  Is this her personal problem, Somewhat.  Our school system is designed to teach children a certain way and those who learn differently are faced with great challenges.  Certainly I appreciate that educating the masses requires a formula that children must ascribe to and follow for the greatest percentage of successful completions.  But what do we do with these others?  If the system forces these free thinkers and non-conformists to have the rough edges knocked off, what then?  What becomes of the future poets, artists, and dreamers?  Everyone doesn’t need to be a banker, economist, accountant or realtor.

Having a mind that is wired to work contrary to the norm is a gift that needs to be nurtured and encouraged.  It’s neither a bad thing nor something to be thought of as negative in any way. I’m not going to fight that part at all.  But I do have a responsibility to my daughter to find a channel to best use her talents in a manner that allow her success in the classroom.  She loves to get lost in books and disappear into the wild blue imagination of an adventurous story.  She loves to write about anything and everything.  She loves to express herself and unleash her thinking mind and let her imagination soar.  This is the magic of life, watching her become and achieve through literature, others and hers.

So her mommy and I have a significant job before us.  We must help her use her uniqueness and individuality to meet success in these other areas where her mind fights her and demands attention elsewhere.  It will take a tremendous amount of muster and determination to stay the course and help her proceed.  I feel as parents we must not let her loose herself to the system but find ways to paint just a little outside the lines to make the picture more special with her in it.  There must be a way to make this a fit.

Pray for us.  Encourage us.  Walk beside us and strengthen us.  Together this butterfly will emerge and touch flowers throughout the entire valley. 

Fight for the heart of the poet.