Thursday, August 25, 2011

Me, Charlie Daniels, and the Fire on the Mountain

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

I drove west knowing I would lose the race. Looking back on my state, I can only describe it as the same way I felt in the hours and days after 9/11. Remember the feeling? We all knew the world has just changed in an indescribable way and were not sure exactly what it all meant. We just knew it wasn't good. I had a sense that the monster in the shadows had launched a terror attack into my life and that the damage of this strike would be irrevocable. Some monsters are like a gift that keep on giving, and there is no return policy that I'm aware of as of yet.

I was in another state when I realized I could not make it all the way to Colorado on one tank of gas. I didn't even know how to find the friend I was headed for. I figured I'd just keep driving till I found her crazy as that was. But, as usual, I was too fiscally responsible to whip out my credit card, pump more gas, and keep on going. Someone had to be the adult, and as usual, I pulled the short straw.

I pulled over in a parking lot and watched the sun fade over the mountain. As the mountain peak caught in a blaze of sun-setting fire, the voice that had filled my head on the ICU ward returned. Charlie Daniel's fiddle screamed thru the synapses of my brain, “Fire on the mountain, run, Boy, run....”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Oh, how I wanted to run and keep on running till no one knew my name, and I could start over again as someone else. How could I go on being me if all I had just been told was true really was? How could I go on if all that were true in addition to all I had always feared was true? “Fire on the mountain, run, Boy, run.....”

Slowly, it dawned on me that my parents' home sat waiting. With some sense of defeat, I drove back the way I'd come, every mile taking me deeper into the darkness of that night. I walked in and felt the silence of an empty house and an emptier soul. It was the kind of silence that announces it has been empty for a while and that the life has drained out of it never to return. Me and that house had a lot in common.

So, the house and I sat silent and empty and alone. For once in my life, there was no 'next thing' to do except sit. I thought maybe God might see my pitiful state and whisper that he was there then and had been as well on those long ICU days and nights. You know, head cheerleaders don't go down easy. I still wanted God to show up even if it would seem a day late and dollar short. S'cuse the clich̩. My ears throbbed with the silence. I waited. The throbbing in my ears filled the room. I realized it was my heart beating it's worn out, broken in two thu-dump, thu-dump, thu-dump. When I awoke, I was sitting up on the sofa Рstill dressed for my trip to nowhere in particular.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I had a job to do. I returned home to school my child so that the state couldn't object to our educational choices. As soon as I could, I quietly slipped out the door and back to the silence. I sat in the quiet and looked back over the last 12 torturous years. Where had I gone wrong? What had I done? What should I have done? Was everything I had devoted myself to worth anything in the end anyway? The 3 people closest to me had each taken turns in the last year telling me in no uncertain terms that it wasn't. The last salvo had come from the most powerful person in my life humanly speaking. The look in his eye...more than the words....told me all I needed to know.

God had made it plain that I was not his head cheerleader and that he didn't even need me on the injured reserved list. My sons and I had no relationship left to speak of. Beyond functional services I provided as a necessity of their day to day life, they could take me or leave me...and they opted for the latter most of the time. My roll as a mentor and organizer in the homeschool community had diminished as my older one moved on to college. At the same time, that community was becoming more sophisticated and sure of themselves. They didn't need dinosaurs like me to lean on anymore. I had lost my sense of community and no longer even tried to find that 'church family' kind of feeling. No one really seemed to miss me. To tell you the truth, I didn't miss them much either except on Sunday. Then, I didn't miss 'them'. I only missed the hope of what I thought they ought to be.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Everything I had ever wanted to be or that had meant anything to me was slipping away. had slipped away. When those words came sailing in on that look, they confirmed my worst fears. In no uncertain terms, the look told me that I was the root of all I had lost even before the words spit out across the room like cannon balls. I sat and listened to the words boom and crash around in the silence as they replayed over and over again. In counterpoint, memories came crashing back to refute the awful allegations hurled at me in those awful moments.

I saw a stranger at the dentist's office. I couldn't hear us speak now, but I could see the dance of conversation between strangers play out. I knew I had said something to encourage her. I knew I had affirmed that there was a God who did care about the minutia of our lives. I saw her rise to go to her exam only to double back when she reached the door to the exam suites. The audio snapped on as she approached me hesitantly, “May I hug you? I think you and I might have been good friends if life allowed. I want to thank you for what you've done to lighten my day.” I rose and she hugged me awkwardly. She disappeared beyond the door,and I never saw her again.

I found myself thinking, “I didn't dream that. It really happened. If I am THAT person...the kind of person that total strangers respond to in such a spontaneous way, how can I be the person the 3 of them have said I am these last few months?”
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Fire on the mountain, run, Boy, run....” I sat and the silence that surrounded me gave me to know I had died on the inside even tho' I had been valiantly fighting for so long to survive. “Fire on the mountain, run, Boy, run.....”

Daniel 2:22 (Bible in Basic English)
He is the unveiler of deep and secret things: he has knowledge of what is in the dark, and the light has its living-place with him.

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