A Different Sort of Tale
Grinding my teeth against the oppressive humidity and heat I trudged along. Would it rain today, I hope? Ugh, if it just wasn’t so bright out. Finally reaching the shade of a trellis in the courtyard I turn my face ever so slightly in a desperate attempt to find even a stingy breeze, no luck. I huff out my frustration, as I look at all the vines I’m carrying. In my normal state of rushing headlong into things I barely noticed that several vines are woven in an impressively intricate pattern of knots around my feet. Lifting a leg that feels twice as heavy as it normally would I realize the vine has rubbed an angry red path around my ankle not unlike a rope burn. Great, one more thing to deal with in this awful, literally hot mess. How did I not realize the sore spot growing? It’s funny how I can get so focused on one thing that I fail to notice my ankle is being used as a surrogate trellis for a very abrasive vine. It seems like these vines never quit. I pull one out and it’s as if it propagates a larger, improved cousin who has roots to the core of the earth.
My frustration is now oozing out of my mouth at a rate that the gateway of my lips cannot stop and my brain has now disconnected, allowing a black sludge of my angry words and frustration to over flow. I watch, fascinated as this black gooey matter drips off my lip to leave a scorched area in the ground. A plume of acrid smoke wafts up from the place the sludge fell revealing a rapidly growing vine. Man those vines are everywhere. I start tugging as more black sludge pours from my mouth. At first it was disconcerting to see this stuff coming out of my mouth but then I stop caring. Really, what difference does it make if it’s scorching the ground, this area is so eaten up with this vine that never ends and chokes the life out of anything I plant anyway.
The ooze is now flowing as well as a mountain fed stream after a heavy rain. The more I pull and vent the faster oozing black sludge falls and the vines get harder to pull out. I know whose fault this is, and with that person in mind I grasp at the vine whose base is as big around as my leg! How had I missed this monster?! Quiet and panting for the first time in minutes I study the vine trying to decide on the best method of attack. Growling from a place I didn’t realize existed deep in my chest I grasp the vine with both hands, and plant my feet to allow the use of all my body weight as leverage against this behemoth. I yank with everything I’ve got and hear a yelp that startles me from across the courtyard! Letting go and shielding my eyes from still blazing sun I see the very person I hold responsible for this mess! Boy, now I’m “fit to be tied” as we say here in the south. How dare they be in this space! Now I’m really fueled and grab the massive growth with every ounce of contempt I feel for this person, knowing with this impetus of anger I can surely dislodge the roots. I heave with a mighty burst of frustration the black sludge also shoots from my mouth! I hear that same person yelp again at the same time I also feel a sharp shooting pain from my ankle that causes me to drop to my behind panting.
Blood is pounding in my head as accusations fall from my lips charring every visible inch of ground around me except of course the vine with which I am fiercely embattled. Sucking wind has slowed the flow of sludge from my mouth. The vine that is grasping my ankle has tightened and is cutting into my skin causing a little rivulet of blood to flow down my foot. Normally this realization would have caused me to spew with renewed fervor the hateful sludge of anger and frustration but I’m spent. I’m tired of the heat, tired of fighting all of my surroundings to no avail. Leaning my sweat soaked head against my knees I close my eyes, wishing to be anywhere but here as I can now hear the person I hold responsible speaking and the very sound of their voice grates on my frayed nerves.
Really, couldn’t they go anywhere else but here? Wow, the softest albeit still warm breeze whispers across the back of my neck. I moan wishing it was cooler and gustier. Almost as if I had some say in this the breeze swept in again a few degrees cooler and with a little more force. Squinting I see the breeze has a gold shimmer that lends a sharp contrast to the blackened ground around me. The breeze seems to gather and flow along that mighty vine and highlight in shimmering gold the vine’s path through the overgrowth. To my astonishment I realize the farthest end of the vine is wrapped around the person I shower with contempt. Adding to my horror this nefarious vine had also grown the abrasive tendril now causing me a great deal of discomfort around my ankle. In disgust I realize that answers my question of why that person couldn’t “be anywhere but here”; because that stupid vine was wrapped around their feet much as it was mine! How in the world did that happen?!
Baffled I turn my attention again to the root. I swear the thing has grown in diameter since I discovered it! The breeze sweeps in again causing the trees to move and whisper. The heat must be getting to me as I am certain they said my name. There it is again! Although now it’s hard to hear because the person I hold in such contempt has stumbled closer in the effort to disentangle from the vine… fantastic. On the brighter side the breeze has now become a welcome cool wind with tinges of blue in the gold shimmer.
My entire body responds by relaxing into the refreshing Wind as I close my eyes blocking out my surroundings and breathing deep to relish the reprieve from blasting heat. No mistaking it this time, I hear my name accompanied by a lingering caress of The Wind on my cheek. The Wind now has my full attention, speaking in its usual lilting flow The Wind begins to talk to me. “What you have said about that person you hold in such contempt is what binds them to you. Why would you bind yourself to another and then have to pull that weight along throughout every aspect of your life? Release them, not because of how you feel about them but because you cannot move and go places being so tied up to others.”
Completely appalled at the thought that I could be making the situation worse for myself I look again at the person still tangled in vine. I certainly don’t feel any softer of heart toward them but I realize The Wind is right. The vine of great root holds us both and the black sludge I had been spewing was acting like the best fertilizer I’d ever seen with the root literally growing before my eyes. Realization is starting to dawn like a rainy morning – with reluctantly clearing clouds. One thing I know for certain is that I NEVER wanted to be tied to that person, and then having to haul them through my life? No thanks! How had I not realized I was feeding the whole thing? Gritting my teeth I ask the question knowing I probably won’t like the answer; how do I release us?
It may have been a bird but I know I hear The Wind laugh then say; “Just let it go”. I roll my eyes as the lyrics to a recent popular movie soundtrack (I know you know which one I mean) play in my mind. I’m not holding onto that person or the vine so how do I let it go? Ebbing and flowing but in constant motion touching everything The Wind continues; “I know at this point you don’t see that person like I do, broken and needing help, so let them go for your own good. So you can move freely. Let them go by doing the exact opposite of what you’ve done to entangle yourselves!” Right, well that seems straight forward, ha!
Replaying the day in my mind I see myself struggling with the brush and vines. I see the sludge increase as I give into the thoughts that none of this matters anyway, stuck is stuck. And that’s when I saw it. That moment when I decided none of my efforts matter the vine began growing fast in the deep fertilizer I was so eloquently providing with my spiteful aspersions and judgements on that person and my plight.
While I see how the entanglement happened, I’m still no softer hearted and part of me still feels justified in the things I have said about that person. The Wind picked up again and more blue shimmer was mixing with gold, the area is starting to get covered. The Wind reminds me “How will you get out of where you are if you don’t cut the ties and stop the process of binding? You don’t want to stay here yet you keep yourself here. It starts small, baby steps even. Let go because YOU need to be free, then you will see a little better with the underbrush cleared out and you can rest a little more. Then the best part will happen, you will see the way to blessing their path out of this courtyard! But it’s really up to you to decide. By the way the change won’t be easy to maintain. It requires different thinking and different action or reaction to accompany different thinking. That’s not easy, but I KNOW you can do it! We are ALL rooting for you – pun definitely intended my friend – from the smallest crawling critter to the outer expanses of the universe you’ve not yet visited. Everything is watching because everything you do matters, never forget that… ”
Seriously off kilter now I sit like a bump on a log rolling all that over in my mind. Not really knowing what else to do I simply say; ok, I see it – I don’t want to do it this way anymore, but I need help to change. A loud whooshing sound blew past my right ear and I looked to see a fiery axe come down and obliterate the once imposing root. Instantly the vine around my ankle was gone. Looking up I see the person topple over as they were released quite suddenly themselves. Still being rather small in my thinking I laugh at the fact they fell over and instantly look around for any shoots of vines popping up. Relieved that I don’t see any new imposing sprouts I hear The Wind whisper bemusedly “at least you’re watching out now…”
I hope to be doing a lot more watching and listening rather than spewing!
Ecclesiastes 1:8 (The VOICE) Words, words, words! So many words! They are wearisome things; and yet people cannot refrain from speaking. No eye has ever surveyed the world and said, “I have seen enough”; no ear has ever listened to creation and said, “I have heard enough.”
Proverbs 18:6-7 & 21 (The VOICE) When a fool’s lips move, a fight breaks out; it’s as if his mouth is begging for a beating. 7 The mouths of fools are their destruction, and their lips entrap their very souls.
Verse21- 21 Words have power in matters of life and death, and those who love them will savor their fruit.
Our loving Papa gave us authority in our words so they are important! And even at my age sometimes my best choice is simply not giving voice to my first reaction. The age old saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” works but my goal is to get to the place that I not only control what I shouldn’t say but I take the next Kingdom step to say what They (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) say about the person or situation automatically!