McDowell Technical Community College

Marlene’s Meditations

Please Stop Laughing so I can Worry!

 By Marlene Houk

Burke County

Icy. Packed ice. Coating the gorge section of the interstate for miles. We crept along in the warm van, six miles an hour. For 3 hours. The five of us spread out over the ten-passenger van that had begun the six-hour journey so happily in the sunshine of Kentucky. Now, we crept along, cocooned companions on the bleak December day with my husband and son in the little Escort in front of us.

My Southern bones protested at this danger. My DNA had not a molecule of grappling with icy roads and keeping a cool demeanor. The farthest north I had ever traveled was to Philadelphia, PA in the heat of summer. I couldn’t even claim an expertise with dangerous winter roads within 5 generations. But, here I was, on the snail trail of a major Interstate with lots of other cars who had the bright idea of traveling on this bitterly cold gray day. Fear-incarnate gripped my mind and I longed for the sweltering humid Southern heat and the glare of brilliant midday sunshine. My voice was frozen, and I could only utter monosyllables to any questions or remarks.

Relentless giggles from my daughter and twelve-year-old great-niece and an occasional chuckle by the driver, my niece, finally roused me from my icy attitude. Absolute silence reigned from the farthest back seat from my thirteen-year-old great nephew. I was baffled. Could they not see the treacherous scene? Were they immune to the dozens of silent cars resting in the snowy ditches and snuggled next to the guard rails? Did they not understand the incredible dilemma before us? Why weren’t they on their knees praying?

And, yet, they sang merrily, composing goofy lyrics and bubbling with laughter at their silliness. My daughter and great-niece have enjoyed years of this close relationship, and today was no different. They did not hesitate to revel in each other’s company, inventing all sorts of reasons to snicker at their own skills and jest with the driver who incited them to more guffaws. Eventually their words penetrated my numbness, and I actually smiled at first. As they continued, my chortles joined theirs in a cheery chorus of crazy antics.

Finally, we made it to the end of the ice and packed snow. What began as absolute terror for me, ended with the suggestion to create tee-shirts with “I survived the gorge on December 31, 2009” and lyrics to their new songs.

That was four years ago, and I still remember my giggles. Even though the winter day was clouded with ominous fear, I eventually enjoyed my daughter, niece, and great-niece’s absurdities. They totally ignored the ghastly weather and, instead, totally immersed themselves in the frivolity within their cozy van. My niece skillfully drove. The Lord blessed, and we emerged from the gorge, ready to continue our conversations in the sunshine.

Jesus says in John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

I think about that scene when I can’t control my world, when it seems a slippery slope, and when monsters slink around the corners of my mind. And, I occasionally break and run from their absurd control over my mind. I take the key of peace, unlock my prison cell of worry, and run into the sweet arms of Jesus, enjoying His security and love. I need to do that more often.

Oh yes, of course, not forgetting my great-nephew. He was in the land of video games, totally oblivious to the outside world which he couldn’t control in the least. Hmm…That reminds me of John 14:6 which says, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Could I, like my great-nephew, practice total oblivion to the world’s sway? Could I be so immersed in the Scriptures that I am unaware of the world’s storms or at least unaffected by them? What a powerful thought!