Tearing Up Over Darth Vader

It all started with Darth’s light saber falling out on the porch.  I peered into the hole left in the pumpkin and black, moldy, gushy yuckiness was brewing inside, ready to start escaping.  I kept trying to push Darth’s arm and saber back in to cover it up, but mold and “fresh produce” doesn’t always cooperate.  The arm kept falling out.  The more I pushed it in, the bigger the hole got and the faster the hand fell out again.  I would push it back in to appease my eldest rush him inside and slam the door shut, smiling as I saw the arm fall out again.  I kept hoping he hadn’t seen Darth’s continual demise.

Matt and I laughed about how Darth’s inner darkness was starting to seep through and be seen.  “How appropriate,” I’d laugh, amused.  And then this morning, the icky insides could be hidden no longer.  Black mold was oozing out.  We commented on needing to get a new replacement pumpkin and moved on.

My dear neighbor, mentioned here many times, caught me while I was outside.  She proudly showed me that she’d found a Woody decoration and was so excited to get a pumpkin and surprise the boys with a third addition to our porch.  Despite not being from the Star Wars genre, I knew Alex would still love it.

pumpkins, pre-rot, just a week ago

I have been forced, over the past 24-48 hours, to think about this concept of one’s insides being seen.  The dark, moldy places that we try and conceal and hide.  The parts of our hearts, emotions and thoughts that we keep pushing down, hoping no one gets a glimpse of their power and place.  And then a few things made them start to unravel for me.  Alex, showing me his “RUN AWAY” map last night, because all I’d been saying to him was “Do THIS!  Don’t do THAT! STOP DOING ____!”  Frankly, many of those commanded phrases were uttered for everyone’s safety, but still….it made me sad that he was picking up on my frustrations so obviously—-enough that he created a map, planning out his escape.  {at least he had the grace to show me his plan!}

This morning, I was catching up on some blog reading, and these two resonated loud and clear with my own situation (READ THEM BOTH, PEOPLE….READ THEM BOTH!!  here and here).   Both of these pieces capture these moments of shame.  Moments where you catch a clear, can’t be hidden glimpse of your own grumpiness.  The way your internal state just can’t be brushed over.

So, thoughts swirling, a slight smirk and smile on my face, I headed out to capture Darth’s gooey, dripping arm hole to use with a post here.  It would be the perfect visual to go with my reflections.  But, guess what I found instead?  The scene captured at the top.  A smiling Woody, next to a fixed up Darth Vader.  No more black mold and ooze.  No more Darth jokes about his evil innards.  Just a fixed up pumpkin and a friend to keep him company.

I got a little teary.  I love how my neighbor just dealt with the problem.  She didn’t knock on my door to tell me she was fixing the moldy pumpkin mess.  Instead, it was taken care of silently and without fanfare.  Sharing some love and care just because she saw what needed to happen and took it upon herself to do it.  It modeled what I so needed to see—reminded me again of the gift of doing small things with great love.  As Ann Voskamp wrote in that piece linked above, “No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.  When you’re upset, you upset what’s really in you.”  Doing the loving thing, even a small loving thing, is impossible when your inside is clutching onto anger, bitterness and resentment.  Don’t we all just want to draw our own “run away” maps sometimes and actually escape whatever is pressing down?!   It almost seems easier than staying put in the hard stuff and waiting for the “other side” to arrive.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, I’m working my way through Brené Brown‘s newest book, Daring Greatly.  It is a rear-kicker, tear-jerker book for sure, but a must read.  There are quotes and concepts and themes that just cut to the core.  I won’t force you to hear all the quotes that have moved me or concepts that threw on huge lightbulbs, but will say, the focus on realizing that we all have good and bad, light and dark in us has been huge.  The reminders she gives that our reactions, what we act on, is what matters.  The moments we choose vulnerability, and honesty about shame in our lives, allows for gratitude and joy to pervade.  As she quotes, and Leonard Cohen coined, “There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”

Rather than laughing at Darth Vader and his dark side, I am humbly reminded today, that we each have those same dark insides.  We can try and internalize it, hide it and ignore it, but it is there.  By embracing honesty and vulnerability—or quiet love in small moments as my neighbor did—we begin to heal those hidden places of shame.  As Brene Brown points out, this practice allows us to be our bravest and most fearful selves with each other and gives us courage to show up and let ourselves be truly seen.  As Alex likes to remind me over and over, there’s all sorts of lessons to be gleaned from Star Wars—even from the seemingly “irredeemable” Darth Vader.  And today, he was right….Darth’s redemption brought a little tear to my eye.

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