Red Balloon and Such Things

I woke up this morning to the sound of my own laughter. That hasn’t happened in a while. My dreams lately have been reflections of our troubled world and they don’t awaken me with a smile, it’s more often with a fright.

Today was different.

It took maybe two minutes to go downstairs and get my coffee and come back up to this laptop. And in that amount of time, the memory of the funny dream had faded fast, but I still have the gist: I was doing schtick with Stacie. I can still see her face and hear her laugh. We were doing a routine—a familiar but unique back-and-forth. Stacie passed away in early 2016 and when I think of her, I think of her spirit and her spunk and her goodness and I smile. Always.

As far as I’m concerned, Stacie qualifies as one of the “such things” in Philippian 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

I imagine what Stacie might say about 2020. I would listen intently to her.

Because of the pandemic plus racial divide plus economic gut-punch plus presidential election, it’s been a challenge for me to focus on good things lately. I know partly why. I willingly immerse myself in the dramatic, conflicting, confusing, traumatic news. I like to “stay informed,” but if I admit it, some of this stuff is downright entertaining. Stranger than fiction. Like rubber-necking a car crash that’s on the south side of the freeway which causes the traffic on the northbound to slow. I’m part of the problem. I won’t allow myself to watch the 2017 film “It,” but a weird part of me wants to. I remember seeing the trailers and they made me pee a little. Even the movie poster of the child in the yellow raincoat in the dark freaks me out. From the looks of it, the child is drawn to a terrifying clown offering a red balloon.

In theory, I don’t think it’s good to focus on the darkness. I do think it’s good to stay informed…but not immersed.

I’ve spent part of this quarantine with my two-year-old grandson, Brooks—”Brooksy” for cute. I’m Grammy Pammy but Brooksy calls me “Gaga.”

A couple of weeks ago, Brooksy and I were in our backyard hot tub playing with cars and funnels and plastic scoops and little cups.

Sinking lower into the water to just below my bottom lip, I was considering completely submerging. As my nose touched the surface of the water, I noted a steamy wafting coming up from the bubbles. Asking if I could check his swimsuit diaper (what Brooksy calls a “swimsuit bobby”) but not waiting for his response, I peeked into his backside bobby and confirmed that not only was there smoke, there was fire. And not only that, I found that the fire had spread, and there was in fact no containment. I love that boy with all my soul and even though that’s true, we popped out of that “hot” tub like a cork on a boiling champagne bottle. (With sensitivity, of course.)

If we’re soaking in poop, we’ve got to get out.

I look at that “It” movie poster and I easily think of two letters I can add. Sorry not sorry.

What am I intently, consistently focused on? Who am I looking to?

Another thing comes to mind that qualifies for that Philippian 4:8 list. When I’m Facetiming with Brooksy, he repeats something to me that I said to him a while back—which seems to have stuck. After he’d gone back home, I’d told him, via Facetime, “I miss you, Brooksy.” Unsure if he knew what “missing” meant, I clarified, “that means I want to hold you.” Apparently, when I said it that first time, he saw my longing, sad face. So now, when we’re Facetiming, he will occasionally, spontaneously, look intently into the camera and say, with this bottom lip out, “I hold you, Gaga.”

It kills me every time.

It is a most precious and tender sight and sound—and it’s in my collection of things that I deliberately look at, one of those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

During this time, while it is good to stay informed, proactive and responsible, I need to balance my attention, my gaze, my focus—I don’t want to be drawn to the terrifying clowns with red balloons and potential doom, I want to see other, “such things.”

What are your such things?