. . . posts on faith and life
As a child my favorite book was Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The little boy in the book, Max, stages a small rebellion against his mother when he’s dressed up in his wolf suit. So, she sends him to bed without anything to eat. A jungle grows in his room and he sails away to a distant land where the wild things are. He quickly learns to tame the wild things and becomes the king of all wild things, then he leads them in a wild rumpus. Eventually he gets bored with the wild things and sails back home. The wild things try to stop him, but he is determined to get back where someone loves him most of all, and where there’s good things to eat. He’s delighted on his return to find out his supper is waiting for him…and it’s still hot!
Part of the reason that I ran so hard from God for so long is that I perceived God to be the same as the way I perceived the church. I thought he must be stale, rigid, boring, legalistic, serious, miserable….you get the point. Part of the overwhelming joy I experienced when I actually encountered God in college was learning that he was playful, mind-blowing, dialectical, joyful, passionate, awesome, and utterly beyond my wildest imaginations. And once I discovered the open spaces within the more Hebraic roots of Christianity (which I picked up from reading people like Walter Brueggemann and Abraham Joshua Heschel and taking classes with Rickie Moore) I found I had stumbled upon an endless universe of mind-bending possibilities for the continual discoveries of who God is.
Every now and then I feel as though I am able to show others this land where the wild things are, and like Max, I announce with childish glee; “Let the wild rumpus start!” But, sometimes, when all of the wild things have gone to bed, and I am making that all so lonely journey home, “…through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year,” I hear the echoes of children screaming. All through the long hallways and wide-open corridors I hear children, locked inside of cold closets and behind dark doors built by religion. I feel the pain of open festering wounds. I live the terror of small rigid places.
And then something boils up from deep within, and I do not know if I can keep it down. I turn and look for someone to help, someone who might catch whatever it is that comes out of my mouth from deep within my belly. I have learned not to try and swallow the vomitus flow that longs to spew from my aching gut. No, I let it go. And would you believe that every now and then, well once or twice anyway, I have found a person, who saw that sight and wept, then said; “My God, the children are sick, and we don’t have the slightest clue!” But most of the time they run, or even worse, they say; “Ah yes, I have seen this many times before. It is called anger and bitterness, and that my child, means that you are simply over-emotional and immature. You must let it go!” Then, I run. I cover my mouth and run as fast as I can. Through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year I run. And I am running still.