I remember my parents talking about a frog in boiling water when I was small. All I could think about is that either way, whether he was boiled slowly or thrown into the bubbling liquid, he would die. These same thoughts were I'm sure what led the rest of my family to label me a bleeding heart liberal from age 12 on. I hope I have learned some things since then.
All I knew is that the frog was the reason we didn't have a tv for most of my growing up years. We read classics and the only magazines I ever remember laying around the house were Country Home and Mother Earth. We were the sheltered sort, but if we think in terms of what we need (food, water, shelter), it should be no great shame, then, that my family had all it needed.
Instead we wrapped ourselves in hand- knitted afghans, lit candles, and entered the worlds of Narnia and the Ingalls read aloud by my mom (who didn't do all the voices, but who did her voice and this is how I learned to read aloud, full of inflections and southeastern Pennsylvania dialects). We learned how to make homemade applesauce and chop wood and climb trees and write stories. Shelter was our assumption and in our home shelter was warm, smelled of fresh bread, wet paint, and ideas.
Once a day, or more, I come face to face with the lack of popular culture my life has encountered. Friends make fun, quote lines from memorable movies, are shocked that I haven't seen Star Wars or Indiana Jones and have no earthly idea what they're talking about half the time. I take it in stride, it's my own fault that I've continued to shelter myself for the past decade of my life. It is not from lack of opportunity, I assure you.
But more and more I wonder if the boiling water my parents wanted to keep from us was not the culture itself, but what the culture does in us. To us. Because I am never more shocked as I am when I watch the news or read current events--where humanity is living out real life stories.
We still haven't got a television in our home and most of our news comes through online sources, so it should be of no surprise to me when I open a few different articles this morning that I come away feeling nauseated and sick: this is what being sheltered does to you, makes you naive and sensitive to what humanity is capable of.
I let that thought sit on me for an hour this morning.
Because of choices that my parents made, and I have subsequently made in my own life, I will always be shocked and grieved. I will always be shocked of photos of war in Afghanistan. I will always be sensitive to tapes from 9/11. I cannot stomach the thought of a grown man slinking away from another grown man abusing a child and a public official taking a belt to his daughter.
But I do not want to punch things. I do not want to have a riot. I do not want to write letters to my senator.
I want to heave out all the sinfulness inside of me.
I want to heave out every part of me that is not shocked at my own great humanness. The parts of me that are capable of any one of the things I find so shocking.
I am that too.
Regardless of the prettiness of my growing up years, the boiling water kept far away or my bleeding heart tendencies, I have wickedness inside of me that can't be held at bay by any shelter made by man.
I don't know where to land this today. My heart is feeling a little broken by that. By that and by the world, by our collective need for Jesus. By the need to kill that monster inside of us before we find ourselves flipping through the channels, skimming over brokenness like it's just another day in the life of here on earth.