Thursday, September 18, 2014
So my spiritual advisor likened it to Lucy and Charlie Brown, Lucy promising to hold the football for her dear friend Charlie Brown, him believing her - again - and then regathering himself to finally experience kicking a football like he has always dreamed.
Most of us know the rest of the story. Most of us intimately so. Charlie trusts the word of his friend. He runs with great freedom and excitement and faith that Lucy will hold the football in place while Charlie kicks it from his dreams into reality. (Is it only me who while watching this scene unfold holds my breath hoping the outcome will somehow, miraculously, be different? I mean after all, there aren't that many episodes!)
At the last minute, for reasons that seem cruel and inhumane, Lucy removes the football from Charlie's path - and the full force of his dream ends up throwing Charlie on his back in a humiliating reality - while Lucy laughs or mocks or dismisses. Honestly, I don't even remember WHAT Lucy does because I am so focused on Charlie. And how Charlie must feel - again.
That is how my advisor described it. My description was more direct: it's like being invited to come close, I do, then I'm slapped. Time and again.
I size up the situation ... Think it through. Tentatively move closer.
It's hard not to hate Lucy. Even though Lucy might have her reasons. After all, Charlie shared his dream with her. In today's self-help, self-actualized jargon the dude mustered up the courage to ask his friend to help meet his need, as silly as the need might have sounded to Lucy. And while Lucy may have judged kicking a football as insignificant, her decision to pull the football away at the last minute without considering the impact on Charlie likely did damage to more than his ego-pride. It undoubtedly impacted his heart - if not his soul.
The application here is vast as I sit in Flint, MI, surrounded by individuals who were encouraged to come close to corporations like General Motors and others. Fill in the blank with names of individuals who promised to hold the ball for us as we ran full tilt toward an agreed upon dream. Yanking the ball back at the last minute crosses racial lines, political lines, religious lines - every line that deals with our humanity. We all feel the pain of Charlie Brown laying on his back morally, psychologically and mentally defeated. I suspect even Lucy feels his pain -- for a minute anyway -- until she reverts back to her own logical reasons for the decision without saying a word to her friend Charlie.
I read a line this morning that described such things as an undertow, "giving with one hand while taking out from under with the other. More than sleight of hand, it’s slight of heart.”
And I'm left to wonder.
What in the world does Charlie Brown do with Lucy? How do we as souls on a common journey respond to capricious acts that impact far more than the moment?
The spiritual advisor reminded me that all people respond out of love or fear. And while I cannot imagine why Lucy would be afraid, I do know that her actions were not born of love. The sting of the most recent slap is that reminder. The bruise from falling to the ground instilled within Charlie a mistrust of anyone who offers to help hold that football while he kicks it - possibly forever more.
"So what in the world should I do," I asked my spiritual advisor while rubbing my still stinging face?
"We are to live our lives as totally loving beings," he responded, noting the staggering number of times even Christ was slapped and betrayed. "We are to live as totally forgiving beings. Only love has the power to change the world, to replace fear, to keep us centered in moments of our pain and despair and shame."
... what??? ...
Maybe I should buy a face mask...