Today, out in the country, I saw a white-haired couple hunched over, holding hands, coming down the stairs from the stoop of a local Bar-B-Que stop. They were not looking at each other, but walking steadily side-by-side. Their eyes and focus were on the stairs in front of them. They were aware of the potential fall they could take, and so braced themselves together as they ventured slowly forward.
As this couple in their years learned, leaning on each other
, dependability, faithfulness, and trust is key in family relationships. As we build into the stability and framework of our homes, we find out, on encountering life’s storms and trials, that “two are
stronger than one”, and that “a cord of three strands is not
quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12, emphasis added). When we are bound together in the home, aiming for the wisdom that solidifies the security of the family, when circumstances arise that threaten the structure, it will find the family walls well-reinforced….Like the couple coming down the stairs, they know when the focus should be forward and they should be linked side-by-side, leaning into each other. Maybe later they smile and deliberate on how life has changed, fellowship on the difficulty of a simple set of stairs, that as children they would jump down in one bound
When we are woven together as a family, we realize the strength of the structure comes from it’s interdependence and trustworthiness, encouraging each thread to add it’s individual color and abilities to the tapestry. Family does not have to break or rend just because change comes. It can transform and move and transition to something new, deeper, richer, and ultimately lighter and more at peace. Like a down comforter, soothing and cool in the summer, and warm and surrounding in the winter.
You could be fighting financial battles with family unity, tragedies and unexpected sorrows, betrayals and unforeseen setbacks. Reeling from the initial impact, it is so important to not let anything destroy the foundation you function from. And if the foundation is weak, rebuilding it and reinforcing with that which cannot be torn down. It could be new joys, rewards for long endurance, surprising leaps of profit and progress. Sometimes in a family it is more like climbing through a Speleo-maze
. If you have never tried this, it is amazing…literally, a- MAZE- ing. If you are very claustrophobic, it may not be your best option, and if you dare to try it, make sure someone is by the release door to let you to the outside! But, even if you are not claustrophobic, it is a bit like being stuck in a dress or shirt you got over your shoulders, but suddenly can’t get back off. As a mom, you have probably seen your child start to panic when they get stuck in something they’ve outgrown and they just wanted to try one more time
because it’s their favorite
shirt! Well, in the speleo-maze, it can get complicated and you can get stuck, if you refuse to think outside the box and try a different approach, even when you feel tied up in knots. You realize that sometimes you can’t keep crawling face forward and belly down (army type crawl) because your body won’t bend through the opening once you get to your waist and legs, so suddenly, you have to flip yourself over, holding onto the ceiling you are now facing, let your torso and back end down, scooch up a bit, flip over onto your belly again and pull yourself forward to let your knees and the rest of you body to your feet through the opening to a new tunnel, to belly crawl again, which may turn into a series of similar drops back to back. To think that some do this regularly underground with minimal lighting….and then the challenge to get back up if it does not end with a wide open cave, or even if it does….one has to get to the surface somehow…is mindblowing. Can you breathe?
My point is, sometimes we have to work our way through that cave tunnel like an earthworm through the warm soil, aerating the soul for productiveness. All things can grow with endurance, like the muscle that is worked to tone and strength, like the butterfly that struggles to emerge from it’s cocoon, like a mom making a home and raising a child, growing and learning and being shaped, moved, and conformed to circumstances of all sorts new and unexpected.
But like those spelunkers that delve into a dark cave, crawling backwards at times, it often leads to wonders unveiled by those that dared to venture into the deep. What they found as a result of their undertaking; some of the most awesome and unexpected creations
and geological wonders in cavernous places?!
Nowadays our world seems so small with “advances” in travel and melding of cultures, until we come upon the knowledge of lakes that seem bottomless because we have not the technology, or possibly the individual with the drive, to dive deeper. What if man could go deep enough, and have the nourishment, oxygen, equipment and pressure supply necessitated, to find the tunnel of water deep within the earth’s cavernous places turn to return to the surface in another part of the world, or in the middle of the ocean? Would it be like The Magician's Nephew in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, surfacing from a waterpool in a whole new world? It’s fun to imagine and think, to contemplate the thoughts, victories, new things “discovered” and “uncovered”, yet sobering to identify risks and possibilities we may have no ability to prepare for or have the human skill to supersede. There are times, no doubt, we are in complete submission to nature’s forces.
So, too, it is with life’s circumstances. We cannot prevent every wind in the road as we travel. We can aim to be prepared for road construction, bridge failures, and so on, but we may not know about unadvised fallouts and could just be the first to happen upon a particular damaged tunnel in a path many have travelled before us. The consequences can be tragic, or nominal. The possibilities too, though, are endless. So on we go with discovery and adventure, tempered with wisdom and preparedness, and supported by the spiritual, social, and familial systems we love. This is where the spelunker hits the cave, fresh and with treasures to be seen, shared and revealed.
So as you set out to exploration, adventure, the predictable, and unexpected, side-by-side with the ones you love, remember to face the obstacles together, back to back, or arm-in-arm with love, communication, tethered together, supporting each other, and when you encounter joy, to celebrate it together. Face to face, leaning in shoulder-to-shoulder, treasuring the journey and embracing the ride we only can walk in our own shoes on this earth at this time!
To many new spelunking adventures in the cave of life!