Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rescued by Elijah

Stories just seem to find me. Yesterday I was on my way to tell stories at the Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival in Pickens, South Carolina. It was a rainy, foggy and overall gloomy morning, which I must say fit my mood.

 I had fallen asleep the night before crying from the waves of grief that have consumed me this week.  A week filled with Red Sox playoff games, my parents wedding anniversary and birthdays, left me missing my dad intensely. And now I was on my way to tell stories on stage for the first time in too long.  As I drove through the mist and fog I thought about the stories I wanted to tell. So many of my stories are filled with “Dadisms” that I found myself questioning whether I’d be able to get through a single story without choking up on stage.

As I pulled into the parking lot tears streamed down my cheeks and I just didn’t know if I’d be able to get through the day. But I wiped my tears and told myself to “Josie Up!” (that’ll be next week’s story) and get out there and enjoy all the stories I’d hear.

I took a deep breath, popped the trunk latch to get my CD’s, stepped out of the car and shut the door. I knew immediately that I had once again locked my keys in the car. Oh how I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve done that!! My next car will definitely have a keyless entry!

Staring into my trunk I noticed the back seat release latch and said a little prayer of thanksgiving. Perhaps I’d be able to get in my car after all without having to call a locksmith, again. I pulled and pulled on that latch, but nothing happened. Finally I got the great idea to bang/push on the seat alternately with pulling on the release latch. It eventually worked. Now I looked at my trunk and that little opening into my car and thought, “No way is my Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donut loving butt getting through there . . . I need a kid!”

I looked around at the crowds gathering for the festival and quickly assessed that this was a typical 60+ age crowd and did not see any potential trunk crawling kids. So again I looked to the heavens and said, “Lord please help out your dingbat, story loving, grieving girl hear – I need a kid, quick.”

 As soon as I offered up my ridiculous little prayer, a mini-van drove into the parking lot and I spotted two little blond heads in their car seats.  I approached the mini-van, introduced myself and my dilemma. The grand-dad driving the mini-van was a dead-ringer for GomerPile with a smile and voice to match, and his grandsons could have easily been my Russell and Joel at age 5 and 2. But I knew without a doubt that God has a sense of humor when that 5 year old boy jumped out of the van to help me and landed wearing a pair of black cowboy boots   (just like my Russell’s  -“Naked Cowboy” boots) and introduced himself as Elijah – Really, “Elijah”?! Ok God, now you’re just showing off!

Grand-dad Gomer lifted Elijah into my trunk and I was rescued, but not just rescued from being locked out of my trunk. I now had a story to tell, a healed heart and inspiration to tell the “Naked Cowboy” story on stage for the first time. God is good.

Rescued from my own stupidity, and given a reprieve from the grief consuming me, the weather may have remained gloomy but my heart was filled with the wonder and power of the stories that surrounded me. I love a God with a sense of humor.

 And if you’ve never been to the Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival, I must say it is worth the trip! A perfect setting nestled in the hills of Pickens, SC. This year I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Ellouise Schoettler, Derrick Phillips and John Fowler. Great stories and a beautiful location – mark your calendar now for the third Saturday in October 2014 . . . See you there!
(c) 10.20.2013 Martha Reed Johnson