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?”


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