My young daughter is riding out the wet and rather depressing days partly by playing some entrancing video games. Despite my occasional hand-wringing and guilty murmurs about “corruption of creativity” and “encouraging violence,” our family has found some games that celebrate stories, imagination, and adventure. And those are the ones our daughter uses.
However, supper is about to be served, and as a rather serious foodie, meals with my husband are very important to me, as are their preparation (and the shopping and the thinking about and the moseying through cookbooks). This night it is spicy chickpeas cooked in a clay pot with Moroccan preserved lemons added at the last minute.
From the living room comes the plaintive wail, “But I haven’t reached a ‘Save Place’ yet, Mom!” For those of you who don’t play, or have kids playing, video games or the very inventive and creative RPGs (role-playing games), you don’t want to exit a game in which you have put great effort fighting monsters and battling through strange landscapes with pits and flaming swords before you save, or all of your former work is down the drain, and it’s back to the beginning again for you.
Of course, this made me think about religion and God because many things in my life wind up going down that particular road. How often in your life do you wish you could find a “Save Place” and keep everything as it is: the demons you have slain and the fiery pit you’ve passed beyond? I do. I fervently hope that once I come through a hard place in my life that I can just be past it; that it is done with and I am safe.
I wish that were the way human life worked — like an RPG in which we can triumph 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 had passed with a child through a thorny period of difficult and painful moments, it would be behind both of you, and things could be easier once again.
Oh, I wish! I’m deathly tired of sage 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. I don’t want hardships that might expand my soul, encourage me to go deeper, and make me more compassionate.
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, and with no worries on the horizon more serious than whether I need to weed the herb bed, air my daughter’s winter clothes, or wonder if my bathing suit’s elastic has gotten so degraded that I shouldn’t be allowed on a public beach in it.
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 kids, health worries, finances, the misery that is Syria, and more, I can calm my worried heart by breathing in and saying, “Help, God. Just help. Please create some calm within me. Help me to be compassionate but not worried all the time.”
“I am your peace,” Jesus said. He is our “Save Place.” I am going there right now, just after I finish up a last bit of worrying and some leftover pain.