We went miniature golfing last week, at a glorious course called The Shack in Manheim.
The day was sunny and beautiful, even the humidity didn’t make us all want to lay down and cry. As we stood on the tee of the 2nd hole, we heard, from the family in front of us, “If you do that again, I’ll hit you with this club until you die!” The voice came from the adult male of the bunch, to the young (maybe 5 or 6 year-old) male, in front of the adult woman and 2 twin girls, in front of us, in front of all of the other golfers.
The boy ignored him, as I prayed he would.
There is a research scientist named Dr Masaru Emoto, who did some experiments with water crystals. He spoke to water, saying things like “Thank you,” “I love you,” and “you fool,” “I hate you.” Then he’d freeze the water and study the crystals under a microscope. Right now, you should look at the pictures – Google ‘Emoto’ and look at the images. The kind, lovely words were bright and crisp, like paintings, and the ugly, painful words looked like sludge or vomit. (Now that I think of it, they look exactly like what they are.) Anyway, the point is that we are composed of a shockingly high percentage of water, so it stands to reason that we would be affected in a similar way to Emoto’s water. When this boy, probably so excited to go mini-golfing with his family, heard those words, his insides, his heart, soul, transformed into the sludge.
Sure, he ignored him. I wished he’d never heard the words, but I know he did. And his heart broke, as did mine.
We have some rules in this house about language. There are ‘bad words,’ you know? Like ones that start with d’s, s’s, and f’s – and I couldn’t care less about any of them. Of course, I don’t really use them, obviously not in certain company, don’t want my boys to use them, especially without consideration (like comma’s or capital letters). Somebody said those words ‘give people a reason not to listen to you,’ and I find that’s pretty true, so I want my boys to understand the unintended consequences of careless speech. Having said that, they’re just words, and they don’t turn water to sewage.
In our house, there are 2 other words we don’t EVER say – fat and stupid. Those words ALWAYS inflict damage, turn the water to sludge. They are wrecking balls that never miss the mark, mean and hurtful. I’d probably add “I’ll hit you with this club until you die,” too.
Our parents always said “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” and they were absolutely wrong. Broken bones mend, heal. The horrible things said in anger, ridicule, disgust, condescension are still there, just as painful as they were the moment they were inflicted.
School is a week away from starting, and I shudder, thinking of my experience in junior high. I understand the kids are all insecure, struggling with inadequacy, hoping the communal eye of judgment doesn’t find them, and it is to this end that they preemptively attack anyone unlucky enough to be nearby. The classic magician’s trick of misdirection. We all know the bullies and screaming mad mini-golfers are the ones with the slimiest water and the biggest bruises on their souls, but honestly, that doesn’t help too much as the damage is being doled out.
So, again, we are left with the only question that matters, “what do we do with this?”
And this is the most exciting part for me. You see, in the Bible it says we are “wonderfully made” in the “image of God” – and God is a wild, imaginative, unbelievably creative Being. That means we are, too. All made uniquely, with passions and interests are distinct as we are. Your answer for ‘what do we do’ is very different from mine – it’s like a gift waiting to be unwrapped.
At mini-golf last week, (I wanted to call him the words we don’t say in polite company, but) my answer was to engage the guy with the filthy water, asking questions, trying to open his eyes to his family, the course, and the simple fact that we are here, now. We stayed very close to their group, laughed with each other about our disastrous scores for the rest of the round. I didn’t fix him or the boy, obviously, but each journey of a million miles begins with a single step, right? With enough single steps, maybe our water – and our hearts – can start to clear up.