I picture social media as people sitting at a banquet, a friends’ banquet…..and there’s a microphone being passed around. It’s my turn…..testing…1, 2, 3….what to post as my status, what to snap with my camera for instagram…..what footprint to leave. “Hello? Is this thing on? Yes? It is? Ok, the guys in the sound booth tell me the mic is hot.” I stand up silent before the crowd and let my eyes rest on the crowd, and then on individuals; for longer than feels comfortable to me. But I want to weigh in; to see and consider. I do this in my head, of course, because my kitchen is too small for the 500 + list. I scan through the names, the stories I know, the people I’d probably have never heard from again, save this platform. It sits strong on my shoulders, the responsibility to speak real, to resist the urge to appear bigger than life, never faltering, teeth always white, breath always fresh, I’ve -got- this presenting. Like so many prancing peacocks.
My mind asks itself……..so I’ve got the mic……what would I say if it was the last thing or the only thing I would have the chance to hear reverberate in the air? Because the reality is, I don’t know if it will be or not. I start to tap dance all wonky like before the crowd because I heard tell once in a song…”If I can make you laugh, I can make you like me.” I do so want you to. I like to make friends and keep them if I can. I hate goodbyes and distance and endings and misunderstandings hollow in the heart. I wince seeing people try to high five and miss and walk away bewildered, wondering what went wrong. So I dance silly to make you smile while I figure out what to say.
This is a dog I used to know. His eyes always captivated me when he’d come sit silent beside me in the grass while I watched the sun start to burn out for the evening.. Like he knew something. Like he’d lost something he was wondering about and looking on the horizon for. Waiting. Watching. It always reminded me of us. We live longing. Because whether we know it or not, we’re just passing through this place. We can’t stay. And the journey rolls like waves of sweet, scratchy, terrifying, placid. There are the gift moments when everyone we think we’ll ever need is right beside us; a Christmas card snapshot. There are times when no matter how loud the sound in the room, it’s a deafening silent scream of lonely. When all is right in our world, there’s a nagging knowledge that it won’t last forever and it scares us a little; the anticipation of change. But when it’s bad, there’s an unrelenting thread that sews itself into a hope fragment.
I’m suddenly aware that the crowd I’ve been speaking to sits motionless while I hold up my show and tell dog picture and patter on for awhile. I stop and chew my lip and peer out steady. I’ve gained my nerve and I don’t feel awkward. Because I see the same hunger in them that I feel in me. I stare at the mic in my hand and put it up to my mouth. “I’ve come to say this.” Silence. Echo. “We’re all bruised and broken. Go easy on each other, if you can. If you think you can’t, if you feel like you want to throw stones, step aside to collect yourself and let your neighbor help you put the rock down. Because the truth is we all need each other to remind each other to never give up. And one more thing? I know this will make some of you want to stop listening? But the thing is, you are loved with an everlasting love and underneath you are the everlasting arms. His name is God. And He’s the reason to never give up. ”
I hear a squawk tinny and shrill. In my uneasiness, my fear of saying the wrong thing, I thought if I put my mouth up real close to the mic I could hide behind it while I spoke. That maybe you wouldn’t notice that I’m the biggest hypocrite around, telling you these things. That I’ve thrown rocks, I’ve wrinkled my dress all up in my fists with unforgiveness welling up in me. That sometimes I’m not kind and don’t feel kind and don’t wanna be kind. A few times I’ve felt “better than” and cringed at my arrogance. Sometimes I’ve actually gotten it right and then toasted myself at how great I’d acted. Only to drop the glass in my lap. Worse, though, is that I’m afraid you won’t believe me.
I clear my throat and look down at the mic in my hand. “I’m gonna ask God to replace the haughty in my eyes with grace light. To remind me the bill He paid for me, so that I can have the courage to cancel what I think you owe me. I’m gonna rip the bloody bandage off of old wounds so they can breathe healing; loosen my hand on what I have hold of too tightly to stay my balance. I’m going to show you my raggamuffin self, in the brightest of light, and tell you sure…….until you lay down for good? Never give up.”
I pass the microphone on and start to sit down again. But before I do? I dance all wonky like…..just to be sure you’re smiling.