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Annie Turner

Annie Turner
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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I CAN'T FIND THE SAVE PLACE!

Home from college for the summer, my grown daughter is riding out the wet and rather depressing days partly by playing some entrancing video games.  Both my "kids" grew up playing video games, despite my occasional hand wringing and guilty murmurs about "corruption of creativity," "encouraging violence," etc. etc.  Which reminds me of the hilarious comment by Gilda Radner in an old "Saturday Night Live" performance; "There's too much violins in the world!"  Would that there were.

However, supper was about to be served, and as a rather serious foodie, meals are very important to me, as are their preparation (and the shopping and the thinking about and the moseying through cookbooks).  I believe this night it was spicy chick peas in a clay pot with Moroccan preserved lemons added at the last minute.

From the living room came the plaintive wail, "But I haven't reached a Save Place yet, Mom!"  For those of you who have never had kids playing video games and the inventive and creative RPGs (Role Playing Games), you don't want to exit a game into which you have put great effort; fighting monsters, battling through strange landscapes with pits and flaming swords.  Because if you exit before you can save your game, then all your former work is down the drain, and it's back to the beginning again for you.

Here I go again, running with a metaphor like a sweaty halfback holding a football.  How often in your life do you wish you could press the "Save" button and keep everything in place, save the demons you have overcome and pass beyond the fiery pit?  I do.  I fervently hope that once I come through a hard time in my life that I can just be past it, that it is done, and I am safe.

I wish that were the way human life worked--like an RPG in which we can conquer and move on.  Wouldn't that feel wonderful?  If you had conquered the demons of alcoholism, it would be so done!  You'd never have to worry about struggling with the temptation to drink ever again.  If you had come through the fiery pit of cancer treatments, you could sit back in your chair and heave a sigh of relief, knowing that those treatments were over and would never have to be part of your life again.  Or, if you have a child or a young adult who has had many difficult and painful moments, once you had passed through the thorny land of their adolescence, it would be behind both of you, and things could be easier once again.

Oh, I wish!  I'm deathly tired of safe spiritual leaders who tell us we have to just live through the sufferings, accept them, and stop trying to resist them, because that just makes them go deeper into our souls.  These comments actually make me feel rather violent, as if I could commit mayhem should I ever meet any of these enlightened souls.  I don't want advice or hardships which might expand my soul, encourage me to go deeper, or make me more compassionate to the marginalized folks in our world.

I just want to sit back in a lounge chair on our deck (with the sun shining, oh, please God, is that so much to ask?), iced tea in hand, with no worries on the horizon more serious than whether I need to weed the herb bed, check for potato beetles on my potato plants, or wonder if my bathing suit's elastic has become so degraded that I shouldn't be allowed on a public beach in it, for fear of scaring little children.

Then I realize, with a little uptick of hope, that I do have a "Save Place" in my life, and it is prayer.  When obsessing about my grown kids, health worries, my friends' health, and the horror that is Syria, I can calm my worried heart by breathing in and saying, "Help, God, just help.  Please create some calm within.  Help me to be compassionate and not worried all the time."

"I am your peace," Jesus said.  For me, he is our "Save Place."  And I am going there right now, just after I finish up a last bit of productive worrying and some leftover pain.