By Cindy Koch –
Once upon a time, there was a town full of people who were very polite. Everyone smiled and sang, “Hi, how are you?” Ladies sauntered in leisure and men strolled at a composed quiet pace. Clothes were comfortable, boots were worn-in, and hair flowed gently around relaxed shoulders. In this little town, gardens lined the perfectly silent streets. Clear blue skies frosted the rooftops of each perfectly groomed home. The sweet smell of unity and peace and well-being swirled around every corner.
One particularly serene day, a girl stopped to observe her curious little world. Smiling. Laughing. Like me. Cheese plates and “me-time” dates. Calm conversations and non-offensive language. Not too hot and not too cold. Please and thank you. No worries. It doesn’t matter. Everything is just fine 😉
But the longer she watched her fellow happy-towners, she saw a little more. Friends dropped their eyes in shame at the end of a smile. Inserted at the appropriate moment, laughs were hollow. Approval was wasted on every little opinion. Selfish escapes from reality covered up the mundane oppression. Calmness disguised their apathy. Politically correct words masked their fear. This lukewarm life melted all passion and motivation into a dreary mold of nice people. Her happy town looked more and more like it was made of thin, flimsy paper. The lie of peace began to disgust her, and she wanted out.
So, one day the girl gathered her courage to look beyond this disappointing town. When no one was looking, she crept out to the very edge of the pretty little houses. Hidden behind the smiles and green grass, a terrifying secret churned in the distance. Just outside the glossy white fence, the earth sharply plunged into a deep ocean abyss. Jagged rocks lined the cliff. Black water thrashed against the deadly edge. Monstrous waves exploded against the foundation. Shocked to learn that she was trapped on this island, the girl ran back to the safe streets of that blissfully ignorant town of peace.
Weeks passed. The girl put on her best fake smile. She laughed along at the appropriate times and places. She was not too angry, too curious, or too much of anything. She quieted her excitements and terrors into a steady stream of indifference. “No worries. It doesn’t matter,” she said. She was held captive in that town of peace because she discovered the lonely tempest that surrounded her outside.
Sometimes, when she spoke a little too loudly, the peaceful people would look the other way. If her weeds grew a little too tall, they would walk a little faster past her house. As she become more and more upset with the fake little town, they would just prescribe another pill. The girl in the polite little town was surrounded by smiling people, completely alone.
But there was a boy. He found her cowering in the dark shadows of the peaceful streets. He seemed to recognize her frustrated frown. He looked her directly into her doubtful eyes. Something about his confident words caused her to listen clearly. His calm, quiet voice simply spoke, “Let’s jump.”
He swept her into his arms and began to race towards the edge of the town. Strangely, she did not even fight back as his footsteps neared the violent waters. She heard the safe earth of the polite town crunch under each stride. The dark foam spit its cold breath as they approached. Stomp. Stomp. Jump…
“I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Almighty God has given you the new birth of water and the Spirit and has forgiven you all of your sins. Go, you are free.”
The girl raised her head. A sea of glass sparkled against a golden sky. The calm, warm water cradled the girl as she drew a deep new breath. The boy smiled a real smile as he brought her out of the water.
There were many other towns that the girl visited. Some were dark and stormy, and some were evil. Some towns were delusional, and some were paper thin. Some towns were so big that she felt lost. But the girl was no longer trapped on any island. He made her jump, and now she was always free.