Monday, July 27, 2015

Go to the Mattresses

I never saw the Godfather. I am assuming that is a crime for some people but not for me. 
The closest I have ever gotten was watching Tom Hanks do a Marlon Brando impression in the delightful "You've Got Mail." 

He tells Meg Ryan to go to the mattresses. Which I guess that means fight to the death. 
It's an interesting phrase. Seems an odd expression for fighting. Mattresses are usually about rest and healing. Not fighting. 

And it got me thinking. About fighting, about battles and the healing they require. 

To admit that you need healing suggests that you were hurt, either by your own doing or by someone or something else. The first is your fault.  The second is not but the expected reaction is the same. 

We are taught to get over it, keep a stiff upper lip, lift yourself up by your bootstraps. Keep up the status quo. Pick yourself up. 

This is our gold standard. And we love it.

Case in point. How great was the last Batman trilogy? (Side note: I am still concerned about Ben Affleck being the next caped crusader.)

In the last movie in the trilogy, Batman (spoiler alert aka Bruce Wayne), literally gets snapped in half. He is taken to a prison that is nothing more then a hole in the ground. The prisoners are tormented by the hope of release because they can look up and see the outside world but will never get there. To escape you need to climb out and risk death.
Bruce Wayne needs to get out. He has a choice to die in the pit or rise from the ashes. He gets his back set. Gets wise advice from a blind man and then participates in a montage of sit ups, pull ups and mess ups trying to get out. 

It is he and he alone who faces his biggest fears and climbs out of the pit. 

He emerges a stronger person. Alone. 

Eventually the phoenix rises. 

I think that is our story sometimes. We need to face our fears and rise out of our pit alone. It is the only way we will be ready for what is coming next. 

Great, lesson learned. Post done.

Except, there is another side to the healing coin. 

I researched what “Going to the mattresses” originated from. Now, I am not sure how true this is but according to multiple shady websites the term came from families in the mafia putting mattresses in their homes to keep their relatives safe. It was about community. 

Caring for each other. 

Which got me thinking. 

What happens when you are given something that YOU cannot handle?  

What if instead of emerging from a pit alone you are lowered from a ceiling?

One of my biblical stories involves a few very determined mat carriers. (The ancient world version of a mattress.) Jesus is in a home preaching and teaching. He is known as being a healer and has gathered a crowd. 

There is a paralyzed man who literally cannot go to Jesus himself. So a group of his comrades decide to bring him to the healer. 

Problem is, they can’t. Door is blocked. It is too crowded. 

Shall they give up? No way. 

They climbed to the roof with their friend and lowered him down through the tiles right in front of Jesus and the crowd. Jesus heals the man because he saw the faith of the mat carriers. 

Can you imagine that happening in an American suburb today? How uncouth would it be? To have people climb on someone's roof and lower someone down through the tiling.
And when I did the research, it looks like these men removed a good portion of that roof. Could you imagine taking a chain saw and cutting through a stranger’s drywall to help someone?   

Think about it. What kind of crazy, close wonderful people were those? 

This man had a problem that was too much for him. He could not do it alone. He needed help. And not just casual help, risk social norms and possible criminal activity help. 

What do you think that man felt when he got up from his mat and walked? Excited that he was healed? For sure.

But what about loved? I bet he was blown away by the care and support of those around him. That he was so grateful to be in a community when not just one, but multiple people gave for him what he could not do himself. 

I would be. 

And it got me thinking about mat carriers in my own life. And how grateful I am for them. 

Do you have mat carriers in your life? 

Or I call them plane people. (Not plain but plane, all of these people are incredibly good looking) What I mean by that is people who, if I really needed them to, would jump on a plane and be there for me. No questions asked. 

Or some call them middle of the night people. People you can call in the middle of the night if you need a friend. 

Or bail me out of jail people. Or come get me in Barstow people. Or here take my car and drive 1500 miles in it people. Cry with me people. People you trust with your heart. People that know or were a part of a few bad decisions you made. People that are brave enough to tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not. People that will pray for you when you can’t pray. People you would do anything for and the feeling is mutual. People that allow you to be you in whatever form that is. 

People that will carry you to healing because you were paralyzed by life. And try as you will, you can’t rise from the ashes. 

Your mat carriers. 

Do you have them? If not, I hope you get some. We all need them. 

Which got me thinking. I have mat carriers, but, am I one myself?

Are you?

Yes, it is a risk for us. And it is challenging. But really, when I stop and think about it, there aren’t many things that are more important than being one. I think it is one of the reasons we are all here.

Man, all this talk about mats and mattresses leaves me sleepy.

Almost time for bed. But something is perplexing to me. I can’t help thinking of these two very different ways in which we heal. 

And as I am admittedly in need of some healing and know others that need it. I have to ask.

Which is it?

Time to face your fears, be the phoenix and rise from the ashes?

Or, here, can you take a corner of my mat? 

Maybe it is both. And I think the hard part is figuring out which one we need when. And I think we need each other to tell us when to face fears and find inner strength and when we can't do a darn thing but lay down.

So if you are in a pit, keep your ear cocked. You may hear the healer say, “Rise phoenix.” 

Or, you may here them say, “Anyone have a ladder and a chain saw?”

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Let's go fly a kite?

 "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.”

I was born near the windy city. (Sidenote: There is a long-standing Chicago debate about whether the nickname is from the gusts of wind of Lake Michigan or the hot air from politicians.) In any event, I was born near there.  I grew up near there. I spent the majority of my life near there.

And then, the wind blew west.

I don’t know how else to describe it really. If I could describe it I would. But some things in life aren’t describable. They are simply known. 

Wind is often associated as a mysterious guiding force. Guiding force because it signals change. Mysterious I suppose because it blows wherever it wants without ever explaining itself.

Remember Mary Poppins?

At the beginning of the movie we come across Bert, a colorful narrator singing a sweet song until he pauses thoughtfully, sensing something is coming. The wind had changed.

“Winds in the east, mist coming in, / Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin. / Can't put me finger on what lies in store, / But I fear what's to happen all happened before.”

Enter Mary Poppins who completely turns a very needy family upside down. She teaches them how to love and care for each other. And then the wind changes and it is time for her to leave.  It is not explained why the wind changes and she has to go. She just does.  It is part of her mystery.  

Another Disney example? Consider Pocahontas.  After she sings about the colors of the wind she finds herself at a crossroads. Which way should she go? She listens to the mysterious force as it sings, “Listen to your heart, you will understand.” She uses it as a guide to follow her true path.  Her decision becomes clear. One way is dormant, the other windy.

Tired of Disney? How about another example from a classic rock song, “The future’s in the air, I can feel it everywhere, Blowing with the wind of change.” (Wind of Change by Scorpions). 

Want more? Wind signaled the death of Beth in the film Little Women.  Dorothy is caught in a tornado that takes her to Oz. Bob Dylan sang about the Wind of change blowing wild and free.

Why wind? I think it is because it acts like the spirit or our deeper intuition.

We can’t see it. We can’t contain it. We can’t control it. We simply feel it and watch what it does to the world around us.

The wind speaks to the heart in a language the head can’t understand.

And it changes things.

It tells when a storm is coming or when peace finally arrives. It ruffles feathers. Shakes things up. Beckons us on.

It is the anecdote to stagnation.

And if we don’t pay attention to it, listen to it, feel it and follow it, there is no guarantee it will come around again in the same way.

We all have had those “windy” moments in our lives haven’t we? When we know something deep down in our knower?

The time you were sitting in your car and you were at a stoplight and you realized you needed to find another job.

The moment you looked across the table and realized the relationship was over.

The “I can’t shake this feeling that something is about to happen tonight" as you get ready to go and then it proves true.

When you are out for a walk worrying about something and feel a steady gentle breeze and you know this too shall pass.

When you meet someone and shake their hand and think “I am not sure where this ride is going but it is going to be a ride.”

How about the time you couldn’t get a friend off or your mind only to find out they really were in a bad spot?

Or the moment you knew it was time to say goodbye.

Or hello.

The phone call you never wanted to get.  

The phone call you were waiting for. 

The coin flip. 

The yes. 

The no.

Winds of change.

Alright Carrie, get to the point. Why are you talking about wind?

Why am I?

I think because I am waiting for it. Waiting for Mary Poppins to come. Waiting for the wind to tell me where to go.Maybe that is a cop out but maybe not.

I feel like I am sitting in the sailboat in the middle of the lake and the air is still. And I can’t do a darn thing about it. Sure, I could get out my paddle and row. But I don’t know which direction to row to. And I suppose I could go back to the shore. But I look back and the shoreline disappeared in this in-between space.

I have cabin fever. Ever seen Muppet’s Treasure Island? (Sidenote: I love the Muppets and that movie is a sleeper classic) There is a scene where the Muppets go for days on a ship without wind. And they start to go mad. Totally silliness abounds as they go a little crazy. I am not going crazy but I do understand where they are coming from.

The sun is hot out here. And I am wondering if I am stuck out here.

But, I am slowly coming to the realization that if the wind blows where it wants and it is not blowing now then I have to trust that too.

What do I do? I remember Mary Poppins.

There is another song they sing in the movie. “Let’s go fly a kite.” It is a celebratory song.  One that I can sing too after the wind changes. Until then, I am stuck here in the middle of the water.

Well then, since the wind isn’t here I should probably ask the sun what I should do.

So I do.

I am surprised. It answers me.

Rest awhile in the shade of the sail. The wind always changes. 

And get your kite ready.