Originally written May 21, 2020
It was Easter Weekend during the period of “the virus of which we do not speak.” (see M. Knight Shyamalan’s The Village for a cross-reference). Bethany1 was working her last day before being furloughed from the hospital. The boys and I were navigating a normal Saturday while she was gone. I was trying to sneak in a little work on my computer, while sitting cross-legged on the couch. They tried to keep themselves occupied, but a familiar scene and theme reared its ugly head.
“I shouldn’t let them be out in the garage without me. It never goes well. But, they’ve been doing great together lately. No, they will be ok. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. Are you sure?”
Note to self: that sick feeling you get when history tells you this is a bad idea…that one…listen to it! I heard thuds, then a scream, another thud, and a cry…and repeating. My 49-year-old legs do not recover quickly from sitting cross-legged. It felt like an eternity between hearing the cries and finally getting my legs to move. I finally dashed through the kitchen and out in the garage. Wyatt stood over the top of Sawyer pummeling him with one of the cushioned taekwondo sticks they had been sparring with. I ran over, grabbed Wyatt to pull him off his little brother, and yelled at him to get in the house.
Sawyer was lying in a ball on the floor crying. Wyatt ran out of the house in his bare feet. I stood there with blood pouring out of my foot. Did I catch it on the corner of the kitchen cabinet or some kid toy in the garage? No idea, but I was trapped. I couldn’t catch “the runner”, I’m bleeding profusely, and I can’t comfort the little guy who needed it the most. Over the next several minutes I stopped the bleeding enough to try to care for Sawyer and figure out how we were going to recover Wyatt.
While this scene is less common than it used to be, it is still familiar. Every year of his life living with DMDD has brought a few scary episodes of either flight or fight. Usually the fight is contained in the house. Flight, however, is another story. Where did he go? How far did he get? What if? What if somebody…does…something to him?
Text messages were sent out to Bethany, our neighbor who is very aware of our struggles, and my mother-in-law (who lives in our neighborhood). Sawyer was adamant that we go find Wyatt. No matter how he gets hurt by him, he loves his brother and wants to chase him down. I shoved my tender and bloody foot into my checkered Vans. The blood continued to flow as did the adrenaline. I prayed. I said “Jesus, help us” numerous times. I have no idea what else I said. We drove through the neighborhood back and forth between the two most obvious spots on either end of the green belt. I stopped some high school kid, gave him my phone number, and asked him to call if he saw him. Other neighbors who were out for a bike ride kept an eye out for him too.
Over an hour later, I was passing over a waterway on the main street of our neighborhood. I paused and parked. He’s gotta be under there. I walked down the embankment and heard shuffling. He’s off. Running again, still barefoot, and taking off further up the green belt to another waterway. As our neighbor pulls up in her vehicle, Sawyer is intensely telling me that we need to go after him. He’s relentless. He encourages me to keep walking as I’m limping toward the dead-end. It wasn’t a true dead-end but I felt that if Wyatt wasn’t there, I have no idea where to find him.
I yelled back into darkness under another road. Wyatt replied back, still irritated with Sawyer, and definitely with me too. I ask him to come out, then demanded. I couldn’t chill out and he definitely wouldn’t come out then. Bethany, still wearing her scrubs, met us there and I tersely replied to her gentle and sweet entry (nearly a fall down the embankment) into the scene. We agree it was best that I head home. She let Sawyer crawl back into the darkness as Wyatt wanted to explore what apparently was a potential sleeping spot for the homeless. There were cots and supplies. She let him get his “exploration fix” in before they came out. Finally, safe.
Over the last several months in particular I have wondered how the Kingdom of God intersects in our daily life. It used to seem so far away that it never could intersect. But now, what do I see in this?
- I felt physical pain. Jesus did too. It took five weeks for the wound on top of my foot to heal. Infection set in, meds were taken, and I was very aware of how painful a wound on top of the foot was. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for Jesus to have his feet nailed to that cross, and to put the force down into the wound to catch a breath with his arms stretched out. He more than knows what those steps felt like for me. On top of that, He knows the ache of loving those who run from Him.
- We have a Shepherd who seeks to save the lost, especially those who wander/run far off. Because we bear his image and have the opportunity to be his “Imagers” this scene involved numerous people searching for Wyatt looking for the “wandering sheep.”
- For a speck in time, we were separated. Something was broken in the relationship, but not permanently. There was an opportunity for reconnection, forgiveness, for reconciliation. There are thousands of opportunities for this in the present version of the Kingdom (eventually they will all be fully completed).
Why do I pray that God opens my eyes? Maybe for moments like this where it would be easy to think there is no way that He is paying attention. The temptation is to forget that The Wounded One has pursued innumerable runners over the course of human history. He might just give you an unexpected adventure to help you remember that.
- Bethany and I are now divorced, co-parenting 8 minutes apart. ↩︎