Staying Close to the Ground

A few cloudy Sundays ago I was watching Bruce play with Darren on the steps of our church. Screaming fire trucks were storming our street. Bruce ran down the steps, swept a wide-eyed Darren into his arms and ran down to watch the commotion fade down East 15th.

Darren’s eyes were bright and mouth was agape. “That was a fire twuck!” he exclaimed, jabbing a stubby finger in the direction of the receding lights.

Man, Darren was so taken by that truck.

I’ve been thinking lately about how simple we need to become to “get” to the Father heart of God. I’m really tired of overthinking things. I’m tired of trying to push things on my own or intellectualizing you or my purpose here.

I’m thinking about this Imposter that I’ve created, the image in me that I like to put forth as someone competent, artsy, smart, funny, mature. My greatest fear is that someone will discover me in the times when I can’t keep up the ruse and find me unlovable. My Imposter can cover that for me, so I don’t have to face the disappointment of being myself.

I am surrounded by my friends, but this memory is unattached with context. I don’t know where this is or how old I am (how old am I? sixteen?) But there is laughter: pale white walls of laughter, ringing in my ears. They are laughing at me (with me? something I said?) and I’ve got this stupid smile on my face and I don’t get it. All I can do is play along and smile, imagining they’re not laughing at me, they’re laughing because I’m self-deprecating and I’m funny and my cheeks burn, straining under the weight of this two-ton grin. Surely they see it’s not real, but I hope against hope that nobody notices.

II.

I am six, buried in numbers, two by two by six by twelve by what the hell is happening. There is a wall of numbers rushing straight at me, and I can’t think through the tears but all I know how to do is swim to the other side of the numbers. If I can trust my slipping memory, the numbers will fall out before the seconds expire and the waters won’t overwhelm me but alas, the waves are lapping over the edge and my eyes begin to overflow.

III.

A memory of performing, being on stage, drinking the laughter or applause or accolades of friends. I love it here. I feel at home here. I feel powerful here. But the lights turn off and people go home to their families and I am left sitting in my car with the key in the ignition, soon to be turned if not for the weight of an inconsolable loneliness. What do you do when you pour yourself out yet you cannot drink your fill?

Jesus, I just want to hang out with you and have you sweep me into your arms and we can run after fire trucks. Or we can do what you wanna do. I don’t care. I just wanna be the kid with a stupid grin on his face watching his Dad do his thing.

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