Monday, January 9, 2006

"We're going on a bear hunt. We're going to catch a big one. We're not afraid... Can't go over it. Can't go under it. Gotta go through it..."

If you've spent any time reading children's books or reading books to children, you most likely have come across Oxenbury's and Rosen's book, Going On A Bear Hunt. It's the epic journey of a family who sets out on an imaginary bear hunt and comes across several challenges (i.e. tall grass, snowstorm, large river. etc.). In each case, they realize that they "can't go over it, can't go under it... gotta go through it." It's an even more heartwarming tale when your small child - in our case, our two -year-old daughter Hannah - is excited about it and repeats the story to you.

Over the recent Christmas season, I will never forget playing on the floor with our triplets and contemplating the recent death of my mother-in-law Leone. And for some unknown reason, Hannah stated out of the blue to me, "... Can't go over it, can't go under it... gotta go through it..." There was probably never a more poignant statement made that could capture that one moment.

I've stated it many times over that we seem to find ourselves in a quick-fix, instant-remedy world. If there is something we don't like about ourselves, we can quickly change it, alter it, remove it, add it, color it, etc. ... And if there is something we don't like about our life and journey, we are able to instantly find ourselves distracted by other gimmicks and pathways. Self-help guides, instant diet plans, overnight exercise programs, get-rich-quick portfolios... the list goes on and on. And while some of these options may produce results for some people some of the time, there comes those times in each of our lives where we just can't go over a problem with a get-rich-quick fix-all or can't go under a problem with a simple makeover or alteration. These situations call for us to just "go through it."

You most likely have already been there. A dissolved relationship, the loss of a parent or loved one, the loss of job, relocation... In so many of these cases, we find that the situation has somehow stripped us of some aspect of ourself; an aspect that helped to define us, propel us, and guide us. One day it's there and the next day, it is an aspect and element of which we find ourselves void. The very moment it occurs - and we've all felt it - it leaves us vulnerable and pained and scared. And in many cases, we just want to grab for something - anything - to make us feel whole, to make us feel normal again. But in the overwhelming majority of these moments in our life, my friend, there is nothing but faith... and time, that will loosen that choke-hold of vulnerability and pain in our life.

A gentle fern void of water doesn't have the choice of instantly becoming a cactus. It is what it is and it must remain what it is... and hang on until the next rain shower... or die...

We're not much different from that fern, nurtured in an environment that has allowed us to grow and mature; an environment that has helped mold our personality and being into the unique individual we are. The very same environment that can turn its back at a moment's notice and leave us high and dry. Changing ourselves or relocating to another latitude is either not possible or will simply not meet our needs. So we have to ride out the present moment into tomorrow and pray for the showers to come. And they will come. Trust me, they will come... eventually... we just have to hang on long enough through those moments of drought.

We can't go over it. We can't go under it. And we will finally have to face the fact that we will just have to go through the very heart of it. Through the flames of pain and the clouds of darkness. Straight through it all, believing there are clear skies and sunshine on the other side. And it is when we face this fact, we will, like the bear-hunting family in the book, find ourselves... eventually... back home, safe and sound.