In the Bible, God spoke to Moses by way of a burning bush. In 1987, God spoke to me through a fortune cookie.
During a somewhat perplexing time in my teenaged years, I cracked open a message that said something along the lines of, "THERE IS YET TIME TO CHANGE YOUR PATH." And, whether it was God or not, it meant a great deal to me at the time.
But, I do believe that God can use silly things like that to inspire people. I do believe He moves in mysterious ways. I hadn't thought about that in awhile, but yesterday morning I opened a new pack of Altoids and read this on a thin, white sheet of paper...
"Wave this in case of surrender."
Now, I know this is just a fun and quirky marketing thing. And I refuse to believe that Al or anybody else in the Toid family had anything profound or spiritual in mind when they approved this phrase. Still, I couldn't help but stare at it for a really long time, thinking... "What am I going to surrender to?"
It brought to my mind a summer afternoon in South Jersey (a few years after the fortune cookie), when I was a camp counselor. I was nervously paddling the front end of a two man canoe with our head counselor, Dan. We turned a corner a bit too quickly, Dan mumbled whatever the Christian Camp Counselor equivalent was to "Oh shit!" and before I knew it, we were in the water. Which was not at all a good thing for me, as I couldn't swim.
I remember how cold and slimy the water felt. I remember watching our overnight supplies tumbling into the lake after me. But, more than anything else on that day, I remember the utter terror I felt when I realized that my feet were not touching ground. I was in deep, deep trouble.
At the top of my lungs, I pleaded for my life. "DAN! HELP ME!!! I CAN'T SWIM!!! I CAN'T SWIM, DAN!!!!!"
It was a minor miracle, with all my frantic splashing, that I could see anything at all, but I did notice that our flipped-over canoe was in between Dan and me. And I had enough time among the panic to start to get pissed that he wasn't coming to my rescue.
"DAN!!!" I shouted, "PLEASE HELP ME! I'M NOT FREAKING KIDDING AROUND, I CAN'T SWIM!!!"
To which he replied, "RYAN! I'M NOT FREAKING KIDDING AROUND EITHER!!! YOU'RE WEARING A LIFE JACKET! ...DUDE, YOU'RE FLOATING!"
"WHAT?!?!?! ...OH!!! ......oh."
Now, it's some twenty years later, and again, I feel like I'm drowning. A week ago I was in love, and now I'm heartsick. I had to take some time off work, as if I were grieving a death in my family. My eyes are a rich crimson for the lack of sleep, and my ribs are hurting from six days of sobbing. And yet, the question remains... What am I going to surrender to?
My sorrow? This fear of sinking? This feeling that I might never return from such a murky body of water? Or to the thought that there's something out there, keeping me afloat.
the five things i fell in love with today...
1) We have a two year old in our classroom whose Friday afternoon snack time melted-chocolate mustache made her look EXACTLY like Inigo Montoya. I wish I could share a picture with you; it's uncanny.
2) Life jackets.
3) Fortune cookies.
4) Stopping myself at snack time before I completed my recital of Inigo Montoya's famous speech. Not, as it turns out, toddler appropriate.
5) Well, hey... whatever my decision, I know I won't have to surrender to chronic halitosis! Thank you, Altoids! You really are curiously strong! :)
Song of the night...
"No one is alone" by Mandy Patinkin
Movie of the night...
"The Princess Bride"