Fling open the closet door, be brave

Auntie G. was hiding in the closet as JMH ran from room to room flinging open doors and squealing.  In between conversations about the week, work, and the never-ending crazy politics, the other adults were encouraging JMH to keep looking.  He returned to the closet door for a second time, looking in tentatively.  He was a vibrating mixture of anticipation and excitement.  Someone suggested he should check behind the coats.  He pushed his little arms into the coats. Suddenly the squealing escalated to a shriek as his little hands found Auntie G.'s legs at the same instant she yelled boo.

"Again, do it again"  he asked.

Auntie G. did it all over again.  JHM counted with his eyes half covered while Auntie hid, then he was off running through the house on a quest to find his Great Aunt. He was busy learning as he played.  The lessons were ones of love, adventure, bravery, fun, laughter, and life.  It was a simple game of hide and seek.  As he played he learned that people besides his mum and dad would play with and encourage him in his little adventure.  He was experiencing love.  His extended family was challenging him to be adventurous and brave, to take delight in it.  The game gave him just enough of a sense of uncertainty without making him frightened, and he faced his uncertainty with abandon every time he opened another door to peek inside.

The opening and closing of the doors makes quite a racket.  Add the squealing and the coaching from the sidelines, and the atmosphere borders on pandemonium some Sundays.  Precious pandemonium in which our grandchildren are immersed in the love of their family and taught some incredibly important life lessons.

There has been a lot of pandemonium around us recently and I have struggled  knowing how to deal with it.  I have tried checking out by going on a non-news diet.  That didn't work.  There was no escape from reality or responsibility.  I was discouraged because it seemed like the only voices present in the public sphere were angry, on all sides of the debates. Much of what was published lacked evidence and was inflammatory.  No matter the stance, anything in the public space was subject to vicious attacks.  I was reluctant to open the closet door and poke my head in.  I was afraid of where it would take me and what the results might be.

Last Sunday, I verbally put my fear on the dinner table and asked my family for their thoughts.  I was told unequivocally, I needed to speak into the scary closet.  My children encouraged me to push the coats aside.  I shared with my family that I had always wondered how the Holocaust had actually come about.  Why didn't people rise up?  My son pointed me to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a reference point to gain an understanding of the events of the times leading up to it.   

In the last week, we have seen the Attorney General of the USA fired for disagreeing with the President.  We have witnessed what historians have identified as a shock event.  Canada experienced our first killing of innocent people who were praying in their house of worship.  I watched Mr. Spicer completely contradict himself on CNN live within the space of a minute or two, denying the statement he had just made.  Day after day in the last week, I felt that the world was coming unglued and I felt frightened.  I would venture that no matter which side of the politics you sit on, you probably felt twinges of uncertainty if not fear.

Granted there is considerable difference between the uncertainty JMH has when he plays hide and seek, and the fear adults may encounter when we watch the world begin to spin.  But the most important question is - what is your response?  Do you turn the other way and pretend it isn't happening?  Do you remain silent because you are afraid?  Do you write?  Do you talk? Do you march?  Do you pray? We will all respond in different ways and that is good.  Of two things I am certain, I cannot turn the other way or remain silent.

Please do not turn away or remain silent.  This is time for graciousness, bravery, and truth.  It is your time to open your closet door and flex your courage muscles. Do it without engaging in viciousness, anger, and hostility.  Do it in love.  Do it out of concern for the world and for all the little ones around the world who are just learning how to be brave.