Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tangos, Waltzes, and the PICU/SICU Shuffle

YouTube features a video of a ballet dancer swaying sadly to melancholy music.

Some cultures do dances of mourning when somebody dies.

Sure, dancing happy is a common thing.  But dancing, like living, finds truth of expression in a variety of forms.

This quote landed headlong into my soul:

"Maya Angelou languaged and danced her way through suffering into a more equitable future."

Dancing as a metaphor for living is ripe fruit for the picking.

 (OK, that was a mixed metaphor!)

Shakespeare saw the world as a stage.  Life has been described as being like a river.

An onion even.

I'm really liking the dance metaphor these days.

So many folks are in a difficult way this very moment.  Some are at war with a disease that threatens them day and night with scary premonitions and everyday pain.

Some are drowning in debt, wondering how this thing is going to play out when there is no more way out.

Some are in relational hell, with a spouse, a child, or some other beloved, carrying the weighty agony of loss on their weary shoulders.

There are a thousand scenarios that can wring the life out of people.

But what if we could look at the sorrows and dark stretches of our lives, and decide to dance to them?What if, with courage and a bit of counter-cultural determination, and faith in a good and sovereign God, we could "accept the things we cannot change"? Not only accept them, but see them as part of the drama of our lives. Beautiful in context, part of the whole.

Instead of resisting and railing, we trust and hope and keep moving.

This is not the way of our cynical world.  On our fallen planet we run and hide and put up walls.  We get bitter, and sit the dance out, angry that it's a tango when we wanted a waltz.

But how much has the way of the wallflower worked?  Drown it in alcohol, drown it in overwork, drown it in TV, drown it in food, drown it in sex, wear a mask, be wildly angry, be a religious legalist, avoid people, avoid God...

How's that all been workin' for ya?

As always, first and foremost I look in the mirror.

Of late, I have had to let go of something very dear and important.   There have been excruciating losses.  I have had to say the words of life, knowing that they are true regardless of how things appear.

Sometimes, I've gone to cookies instead of friends, TV instead of the Psalms, and to other substitutes for life I won't even share here.  But I'm learning, and growing.

And I write this because I know, I KNOW, there are so many souls perched on the ends of their own seats deciding whether to go bitter or dance.

By grace, we can dance.

Five years ago, when Smitty and the darling daughter were hit head on by a drunk driver, (who himself must now choose to dance or die) I coined a little phrase that has meaning to me and nobody else.

I refer to those early days of the accident as my PICU/SICU shuffle days.

The PICU/SICU shuffle is the dance nobody wants to do.

I would spend most of my time by my daughter's bed in the Pediatric ICU, watching for signs of recovery from a subdural hemorrhage of the brain.  The people who danced with me would sit with the child while I descended the stairs to the Surgical ICU, where my husband struggled to survive the mangling effects of several tons of metal running into his flesh and bones.

Those were days of a dramatic dance, ones that forever changed me and caused my relationship with God to enter deep places of both assurance and perplexity.

But this I will say for sure: I look back on that time, and know for certain it will one day make the whole dance stick together.  When my dancin' days are done on this earth, those dancin' days will have been significant for the big picture.  As will all of them. And all of yours.

I gave my firstborn a little motherly advise the other day.  (At 21, he's just getting in to the thick of the dance).  I let him know he has 2 choices when things go south in life: bitter or better.

Dance or die.

Whatever it is friend, turn it into a dance.  Though you weep through it, keep dancing.

One day, all the dances will be tearless.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


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