Aug 162010
 

I stopped watching the weather forecast a month ago.  That is when the weatherman said the dreaded words:

heat dome

In Oklahoma, we know what that means.  It means that a high pressure system is sitting right on top of us.  It means that the atmosphere has a lid right over our heads, a lid that allows the sun’s rays to find their way in but never out.  It means that you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, or cook dinner on your car hood if you wanted to. 

Heat.  Pressure.

His shoulders slumped slightly, as if he carried the world on them.  Quiet at first, but when I asked about his younger siblings, he spoke up, telling humorous stories about his attempts to keep them somewhat out of trouble.  The conversation shifted to his dad, and the quiet returned.  Alcoholic, violent, angry.  When dad was awake, the kids hid.  In their rooms, the garage, under the porch.  One day a neighbor saw the kids playing and brought them some lemonade.  A conversation started.  Over time, they felt safe.  Then one night, when they needed a hiding place, they ran to the neighbor’s house.  There are new challenges now, but no hiding.  No drunken rage.

Some kids feel heat and pressure every single day.  It doesn’t go away when the seasons change.  But it can be relieved when we are willing to be a refuge, a safe place for those around us who need it.

Will you be a refuge?

Mar 182010
 

Trust is a small word with large, even gigantic, implications.

I remember those moments like they happened yesterday. She was 14, and was in my office for a check-up. We talked through some of the normal stuff that I like to know – how she is doing in this foster home, her school grades, whether she has good friends. Oh, and what about boys? Any of them hanging around? On that day the conversation was easy, though it had not always been. After a few moments of catching up, she handed me a notebook. The cover was faded blue and torn a little bit. It was also a little discolored, as if water had spilled on it. Or perhaps tears. I didn’t say anything, but my eyes must have asked the question. “It’s my story,” she answered. “My counselor made me write it, then told me I had to find someone I trust to give it to. I have carried it around for a while, but I decided I want to give it to you.”

I opened the pages slowly, carefully. Contained there were stories, poems, and drawings, each representing a piece of her history. Stories about her family, about loss and grief, but also joy and excitement. Pictures of her siblings, who she rarely saw but thought of often. I sat next to her on the exam table as we thumbed through the pages, and she filled me in on even more details than the pages contained.

It was a holy moment, a sacred time – one that changed me. Like many people, somewhere between childhood and adulthood I quit trusting people. Got burned a few times. Once bitten, twice shy – that sort of thing. But the truth is that trusting people is part of our DNA. Without it, we aren’t able to fully engage the humanity around us. Aren’t fully able to enjoy all that a relationship offers. It is not something to enter carelessly, to be sure. But if we are able to trust and be trusted, we will experience an unusual depth to our relational interactions.

That kid needed someone to trust, and I needed the reminder that I do too.