By Holly Herring
I was talking to this guy once who came from another faith than me.
He was having a minor crisis, not about his faith, but about his family. He set about describing to me how he viewed his relationship with his creator. He said that it is similar to buying a computer or television—yhere’s the manufacturer, or maker, and there was the product. If there was something that wasn’t working quite right or if some help was needed, there’s always the option of reaching out to the manufacturer for tech support.
Then he told me that he, too, was a product and prayer was how he contacted tech support with his manufacturer when he wasn’t working optimally.
I have always had issues with belief in a deity. Symbolic belief for story telling sake…sure. But a deep, religious conviction that there’s a deity out there who created me has been a hard pill to swallow. I lean heavily on characters I read about or see on television in my daily life. But, I don’t believe any of them created or really know me.
When I was a little girl playing on the farm I begged my mother for this toy jump rope in line at the grocery store.
I begged like I had never begged before. She finally gave in and bought it for me. I had never been happier. I dragged that jump rope around with me all afternoon and I lassoed the dogs, watched it slither behind me as if it were a snake while I walked through the tomato plants, and I tied it to a box and ran around shouting “Choo! Choo!” like a train. My jump rope could do anything.
Then I saw something and had the most brilliant idea ever.
I had begun to climb trees that year and there was a tree that was perfect for climbing in my yard. It had branches spaced out just right so I could hop from one to the next right up the trunk. But, I was four years old and my legs were still kind of short. My arms were a little wimpy. The ground was pretty far down if I got too high up. In short, I was afraid to climb up past the second branch. Looking at my jump rope, I decided that I now had exactly what I needed to solve my problem.
I tied one end of the jump rope around my waist and let the rest hang. I planned to climb as high as I could on those perfectly placed branches and I knew that my jump rope would bring the safe descent I needed. I would simply tie the other end around a branch and lower myself to the ground.
With this foolproof plan in mind, I set off to climb the big, old tree higher than I ever had before—some might say higher than was safe.
Arriving at the highest branch I could, I sat down and slid out towards the tip and looked all the way down at the ground. It was incredible! I could see all the way to Egypt! I took in the sites. I saw the chicken coop off in the distance, the big wine press, and I could see the farmhouse I lived in out by the bird bath. I smelled air that I was sure came from the highest mountain peaks and I heard birds that I have probably never seen.
Then I realized I was hungry for cheese and crackers and those were in the kitchen, not in the tree.
I started trying to back my way down the tree the way I came up, but it was too scary. I felt dizzy when I looked at the ground. I thought I felt a wiggly caterpillar in my tummy. Then I remembered my jump rope and set my sights on my escape route. I planned to tie the rope to the branch and then slowly let myself glide down like those mountain climbers on television. But, there wasn’t even enough jump rope left to even wrap all the way around the branch. Oh no! I was doomed!
After much panic, all I could do was start screaming.
I screamed as loud as I could, scared to death that nobody could hear me all the way up that tree. I screamed, I cried, I begged my jump rope to stretch. Our dog sat at the base of the tree and looked up at me and I ordered her to go get help. I called on imaginary eagles I just knew must have a nest in the tree to fly me down to the ground. Then I wailed more for my mother. “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM, HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!”
I was rescued eventually from my branch, all of six feet up in the air, and I pulled at my jump rope which was firmly knotted around my waist. I dramatically told my mother the whole story of the jump rope adventure while she worked at the knot. When she got it freed from around my waist she showed me the full length of the jump rope next to the tree I had climbed and explained with great patience how that jump rope was never, ever going to get me out of that tree.
I had prayed to my maker and she had not let me down.
Thinking back to that man who told me his story of deity tech support, I realize there are plenty of people and things I seek out when I am malfunctioning. I have cried into my dog’s soft fur to please take my emotional pain away. I have clenched my steering wheel and begged my car to take me away as fast as possible. I have called a crisis line while I stood in a shower of cold water fully clothed, having an emotional crisis. I have closed my eyes and bowed my head while speaking quietly into a court microphone for a judge to please keep me safe.
Tech support deities come in many packages, but apparently it does not look like a jump rope.
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