We pull up to the location off the beaten path and I have no idea that this is about to be a life changing moment once I exit my SUV. He parks his little red corvette next to mine. A familiar tune interrupts my train of thought at the appearance of his vehicle from Prince many a moons ago, “Baby you are much too fast…”
We are here to tour a facility that houses wayward girls. The occupants have lived lives much more difficult than one could ever imagine. They have grown up entirely too fast. And they are here to stay still for a while to catch their breath and heal from past experiences that should never have been on their radars at this stage of life.
The purpose of our time there was to see the everyday workings of such a place as this. A member of this facility will be our tour guide. A mere 16 years old, the look of innocence still illuminates her luminous skin. But, underneath the innocent exterior, holds a story of hurt and loss and heartache. We are underway with the head of the facility, an employee, a board member, and our beautiful young host.
I am instantly drawn in by her big, brown eyes I recognize something familiar in them–They are my eyes.
Their look pleads, “please notice me – I am hurting – I am not as good as I portray – I am scared.”
A lump struggles to make its way up my throat warning me of emotional instability underneath my all smiles countenance. “I see you – You are not alone. If I could get you out of here, I would take you home with me.” She is not much younger than my own daughters. Left here amongst mere strangers. “Where is your family?”
An urgency to assist this adolescent from the captivity of her surroundings catches me completely off guard. What is wrong with me, I barely know her?
Even though the talk is on the surface, she feels the connection also. I can just feel it. We near the end of the tour and our tour guide is by my side like glue. I desperately want to help her. Not uncommon as I want to help all the helpless souls young and old, human or animal.
Somewhere during our time together though, she discovers I am writing a book. Questions pour out about what it is about. I inform her it is a book on life and death. Still, I find it difficult to explain what the book is about. Almost like I cannot seem to put together the right words. Scary to think I am an actual writer if I cannot figure out how to explain the book in a sentence or two. When a seemingly innocent statement is thrown my way–
“Maybe you can write about this place in your book.” I am certain she is speaking of the place itself, but it was as if her words penetrated a place deep within underneath the surface and deep into my soul.
“Write about the place you lost your serenity.”
Not to be confused upon quick glance with virginity. All I have to remark on that is it was one quick tale in the tailgate of a Ford Escort wagon. No, my serenity. It was the name of the building on the tour we stopped outside of but were not allowed to enter for some reason.
The man explains in entirely too much detail the name of a building on the grounds during our tour: Serenity, serenity, serenity. That peaceful place where all healing takes place. I am initially irritated by either his talking or the word itself. Serenity. I got it. Dude, I understand this is the name of the place.
Serenity: A state of being; calm, peaceful, untroubled.
Oh, that is not at all what I am experiencing even though you would never know it by my demeanor.
How do I enter serenity? I know it is not a building, but I wonder if that is the place that I have not allowed God to enter and excavate. That place that is off-limits to all. The place deep within I attempt to keep a ‘keep out’ sign on, afraid what I will encounter.
I have traveled far away from serenity. I am not sure I know how to get there. I am not certain I would know serenity if it stood in front of me with a neon sign.
Maybe this is not entirely accurate. I had a dream not too long ago of a white wall. On it was a mass of scribbles strewn about as a toddler would if opportunity arose.
The scribbles were in stark contrast to the wall. I feel panic over the mess, and attempt to cover it up. As with dreams, my solution is already in hand. For this particular remedy, I choose a grayish hue one would find on display at West Elm or Crate and Barrel.
With roller in hand, I attempt to coat the wall with the thick latex. At first, it appears to work as I am awash with momentary relief as I step back and inspect my work. Only then do I notice the scribbles begin to appear through my makeshift remedy.
Frantic, I try again. Faster my arm moves the roller about, only to discover yet again the black script return uninvited.
I awake a mess.
Immediately, I sense this wall has some sort of spiritual significance–
Like a vain attempt to cover my mess under layers instead of addressing the issue of the scribble itself.
Instead, I layer an all-is-well coat of wellbeing.
Appearances deceive our hearts to believe it is better to contain our issues instead of acknowledging our needs.
As a result, invisible walls erect around my heart, creating a barrier between my God and me—and inevitably others.
So, I hope you ask this question for yourself as I do today:
“Lord, what walls have I erected that have created a barrier between our intimacy?”