I’ve been working on several projects at once, which makes me crazy and happy simultaneously, and occasionally I’d like to share bits of them with you lovely readers.
Sometimes you can hear the several mugs of tea that went into the writing of a blog and sometimes I hope it’s obvious that God has fingerprints all over the page.
But this little excerpt is from a book I’m writing simply titled “Abide”.
What makes a person stay in a place where they don’t feel safe, when they have all the choices in the world to choose from?
If there’s a chance that the specter you fear may not indeed be real, would you question it?
When you take away the fight and you remove the flight, what do you have left?
When you won’t be a martyr and you refuse to be a victim, who are you?
Can you separate the specter from the circumstances?
There is a place in the middle of everything and everywhere. It’s a pinpoint in space between time and location and thought and energy. It’s the vortex, the crux, the center.
But for this book, I’m calling it the bend in your elbow.
Because it’s a place you have never once considered.
And it’s right in front of you.
And a lot of stuff hinges on it.
This was a lesson I learned very young, and then forgot.
Sometimes, you can bend that elbow, flex that arm, and step deliberately into the crux.
In second grade, all of my classmates played the same game every single day at recess.
The boys, in a pack, would chase the girls, in a pack, all around the playground and into the girls’ bathroom. The girls would proceed to hang out in the bathroom for the rest of our play time, giggling over the boys, sending out “spies” who would run shrieking back.
I thought it was awfully mean of the boys to hold us hostage in there, when I would rather be on the monkey bars or playing hopscotch.
I vividly recall the day I had a thought. It was a radical and new thought.
Something that, obviously, had occurred to no one else.
Which automatically makes it suspect in second grade.
What if? (Oh boy, there it goes again. I wonder how to get my mother’s voice out of my head?)
But what if…we stopped running?
You could count on the boys never, ever giving up the chase. They were delighted with the whole arrangement. You could be sure the adults in the area weren’t going to do something about it. Why should they care? Everyone seemed okay with the game.
We were in charge of what we were gonna do.
We second graders who weren’t in charge of anything…?
I told the girls what I was going to do. They were horrified. There was absolutely no telling what would happen to a girl if a boy actually caught her. Boys were mean and awful and full of cooties. They were fast.
We watched the clock tick slowly towards recess, holding our breath.
The bell rang, the boys and girls gathered up their collective teams, and off we went.
It took me all the way to the bathroom to gather my courage.
I stopped five paces from safety, turned, and stared those boys down.
The pack of boys skidded to a halt, inches from me, arms flailing and shocked faces registering a little too late, that something had gone awry.
“What are you doing?” they shouted, “Why did you stop? We totally got you.”
They were mad.
“Yeah?” I said, sarcastic even at that tender age, “Just what are you gonna do with me, then?”
Total silent confusion. I love that.
That is exactly what your fears do when you gather just enough courage to skid to a stop, grab a monkey bar for support, and stare them down.
“I’m never running from you guys again,” I said, “It’s a totally stupid game and I hate staying in the bathroom and I want to go play. Don’t bother me anymore!”
And they never did.
I watched the girl pack run by once in a while, and I would feel sorry for them, except, they seemed pretty happy with the whole routine. It’s like they were okay with the attention, even if it was bad attention that wasted their time and held them hostage and amounted to nothing.
I mean, not that we ever behave like that as adults, right?