Betty J. Slade
I bit the bullet, rolled up my sleeves and told my Sweet Al, "This has to be a labor of love. There is no other reason I would sit out here in the middle of the baseball diamond in downtown Pagosa at night, shivering and acting like a crazy woman."
My daughter said to Al and I, "We need you as volunteers in the haunted house. It's for the Boosters so they can buy uniforms and sports equipment for the school kids. All you have to do is sit there and be scary."
"I don't want to, but it's important to help our children. I guess we have to do it."
I sat with an ax embedded in my head with chains around my arms. I cried, "Help me. Help me. Somebody, help me." Al carried a saw and walked around the table and pretended to come after me. We were behind a big drop cloth with a spotlight, which showed us in silhouette to anyone who passed by on the other side of the tarp.
I said to Al, "You're in my light. Move over to the other side. We look like one giant blimp." He continued to hover around me. We made it through two nights and talked our younger daughter into taking our place on the third night. When we left, one of the ghostly clowns said, "Your performance was stellar."
"Well, thank you." Someone appreciated it, even if it was a clown. On the other hand, our son and younger daughter came by our station and made fun of us. "You were so funny. 'Help me, help me.'" They mimicked me. "It looked like you were knitting."
I informed them that I was being chained to the chair and I wasn't knitting.
"By the way, you could've stopped, helped us out and had given us a break."
"We didn't want to bother you during your performance." Again, teasing, more slapping the knee and falling on the floor with uncontrollable laughter.
How did we get ourselves into this? This seems to be our cry whenever our family pulls us out of our comfort zone into one of their projects. The only answer that makes sense is because we try to keep our hearts open to our family.
I heard a term this week I hadn't heard before. Reclaiming sacred space. It is a heart posture of sacrifice. It's costly. It's where two hearts meet, humbling oneself and receiving God's sacred space of blessing in that relationship. Love is sacrifice. Did our children think we were making a sacrifice? No. They thought we were having fun. I guess we were. In a way, we were claiming sacred space and opening our hearts to family, even in a haunted house. We showed up and humbled ourselves.
We do it all the time without thinking. We show up in a marriage. Being a friend when we are misunderstood. Volunteering, without a thank you and also forgiving when we've been offended. It's a sacrifice to maintain an open heart with each other. We are actually reclaiming God's space in our lives when an offense comes.
It sounds like pie in the sky, so I asked my Sweet Al what he thought about it all. I knew he would bring it down to earth. He's that practical voice which brings me out of the clouds and puts my feet on solid ground.
Al was logical as he expounded, "It's like a couple having trouble in their marriage. Why wouldn't they love each other enough to work it out? Why would a woman want to support herself, raise children by herself and deal with the hardship of being alone?"
I said to him, "Yes, it's easy to say, but it takes two to show up in a marriage. In the beginning, they love each other, they take an oath before God to love, cherish and protect the other person no matter what comes. Then they close their hearts to each other, the cost is too much and they lose that sacred place in their marriage."
Al continued. "Why would a man want to fool around? Why would I want to take care of someone else's wife when I have my own wife to take care of?"
Then he said, "I always wanted the pretty one on my arm. I never wanted to be the pretty one."
Heavens, I think we are getting somewhere. Is my Sweet Al saying, bow down to your mate, make your partner the special one, and let them shine? Don't try to be the special one. Love them and keep your heart open and reclaim that sacred space.
Final brushstroke: Back to the haunted house. How did my Sweet Al and I end up in the middle of the softball field, cold, making total fools of ourselves? It's all about love. We were humbling ourselves to our children, claiming a sacred space and keeping our hearts open.
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