Prose by the Gulf

(A poem written from a condo balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico)

Nutty coffee. Blue water gulf.
Salty cool breeze. Sun-warmed skin.
Squinty-eyed bright.
Rolling waves crash.
Up and down in my ears. Up and down.
Aqua-tan sandbars submerged.
Beachcombers on a fifty-five degree day.
Most in sweatshirts. The adventurous
in swimming trunks, shirtless.
Thermal jeans on my legs soaking
solar rays. I feel peace today.
I feel joy right now.
This moment in time, an island all to myself.
Well, God and me.
A brief paradise of the mind.
A retreat in my heart.
Not so much a sabbatical, but for sure
a sanctuary. More than a siesta.
Freedom of soul.
My oldest son sits next to me.
What’s passing through his teenage mind?
I don’t know, but I know it’s good.
His dreams hover above the water
spread before his eyes.

Mountains and oceans have a way of reflecting our dreams.
Timeless. Endless.
They remind us, teach us, to dream bigger and beyond what our minds can see.
We turn to greatness to pursue peace and paradise.
We are turning to God.

“since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
— Romans 1:19-20, The Bible

“Let the wild rumpus start!”

Those recognizing today’s blog title know well of the book, Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” Out of the countless books I read as a young boy, Wild Things is a book I’ll always remember. Even those not recalling the written story can visually identify the horned, yellow-eyed, sharp-toothed monsters vividly illustrated in the book, and of course the boy-king of the story, Max.

My wife and oldest son were out of town for a few days, so I grabbed the box candy and took my daughter and younger son to the movies. The film was a dramatic elevation of the book, but it remained true to the original story.

I’m not writing a critique of the movie nor the book; I’d encourage you to see the movie yourself and read the book (it’s likely been a long time for many of you). I’ll share instead my personal take-away.

I’ve gotta take off my manly-man suit for a moment, because I fought back tears throughout the entire movie. I’m glad we hit the theater on a less crowded weeknight so neighboring movie-goers couldn’t point out the blubbering dad in the next row.

Why was I choked up? It’s only a children’s story! The movie pulled such emphasis out of that little book that I thought of my own life. The energy poured out, trying hard to make life successful, loving and sharing with those around me, and the disappointment when my efforts don’t pay off.

How many times have I let my kids down when they’re begging to show me their makeshift cave? Or a special stick figure portrait of us holding hands under a squiggly, yellow-crayon sun? The look of “Daddy, we want to spend time with you!” all over their beaming little faces; followed by low chins after I responded with “Maybe tomorrow when we have more time.” They turn and slowly walk away like something valuable was just lost…or stolen.

I also recall my own moments, offering a little time with someone, or inviting them into something that excited me, only to have them politely push me away. The boy within feels the same as a child…we’ve just learned to bury the pain deep and throw away the map marking the spot. We don’t like to revisit those places.

When our wild hearts are shunned in those subtle ways, especially in those subtle ways, we lose something. Over time, that wildness becomes tamed, and angry. Our heart is angry because that youthful wildness isn’t supposed to die.

As adults, that wildness should transform into a pursuit of worthwhile desires screaming to leap from our hearts, aching to change the world. And if changing the world seems too big, we still have a shot at impacting the lives of those we live and work with every day.

Purposeful wildness is not random or uncontrollable, nor is it isolated and independent. Purpose-filled wildness brings about togetherness. Think about the movie scene when Max and the Wild Things are living wild and free. What do they do every night? They sleep together, in a pile. Now that’s togetherness!

I often find myself desiring precious moments with my wife and children when I’m living out of the freedom and wild side of my heart. Again, I don’t suggest uncontrollable living, but purposeful and free living–taking worthwhile risks and going after the purposes set aside for your life.

Maybe you don’t know what that purpose is. A good start would be asking God to show you. No, really–get alone somewhere and ask Him. If nothing immediately comes to mind, don’t give up asking. It might take a while to look around and discover it.

To borrow from Max Lucado’s book Cure for the Common Life, two questions to ask yourself are “What am I good at?” and “What do I enjoy doing?” Look to the intersection of your answers and start there.

I love Thoreau’s proclamation, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” I keep it taped on my computer monitor at my day job–it keeps me pushing toward my own purpose.

Don’t be afraid to be wild. Embrace your heart; rescue your heart. It’s been caged up long enough. And let the wild rumpus start!