I’m a Looney Tunes product. As a child I received moderate doses of Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Foghorn and the gang. My introduction to slapstick comedy, teasing and harmless explosions came through such animated friends. To balance things out (and comfort my parents) I must add that I received my introduction to classical music through Bugs Bunny’s marvelous rendition of “The Barber of Seville”. Epic!
One cartoon I did not enjoy was Road Runner. I didn’t get it. A bird. A coyote. A chase. Same plot. Same conclusion. Insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. That would make Wile E. Coyote the poster toon for insane behavior.
As an overachiever, I stressed watching Wile E. I admired his perseverance, but cringed at his ineptitude. The non-stop scenes of failure weren’t funny – they were depressing. At some point the poor critter needed to taste success (and some Road Runner).
Despite my animation frustration, I’ve had a curious reminiscing of Wile E. this week. No, I haven’t developed an affinity for desert fowl or crafting clever traps loaded with birdseed. The helpless Wile E. is stirring reflection on my own frustration and helplessness.
Reflection came through the replaying of scenes where Wile E. was suspended, mid-air, a thousand feet above the canyon floor. Floating in no man’s land, contemplating yet another failure. As Road Runner sticks out his tongue and “beep-beeps” away, Wile E. is left dangling. Blinking. Questioning. Pleading. Then plummeting.
Recently, I’ve felt a bit like Wile E. I’ve had an anxious, suspended-out-over-the-canyon type of feeling. Like Wile E., I poke my toes below me hoping to find more than air. My mind races through a dozen scenarios as I hover. My stomach churns with fret, regret and presumption. My eyes blink with muted expectation. I drift. I wonder. I swallow hard. I sigh.
That suspended state engenders emotional fragility. Vulnerability. I teeter precariously on the brink of free falling – and not the kind of “free fallin’” Tom Petty sings about. Like Wile E., I often resign to holding-up a pitiful sign that says, “Help?”
As I reached for a pencil to scrawl another “Help?” placard this week, I’ve was nudged away from resignation to conversation. I’ve had this conversation before, but this time it was fuller and slower. It was a dialogue that fostered a richer relating. It carried me beyond a short-sighted distress call as God has presented Himself steady, strong and available.
As God and I conversed, He revealed (again) that in the midst of my thinking, dreaming, scheming and worrying I must talk with Him. I need to pray. When I experience the butter-flied stomach of mid-air suspension, I must stop. Drop the “Help?” sign, and grab His hand. He suspends me to get my attention. Then He holds me so I know He’s there. Then we talk so that I might learn, trust and love.
As I’ve gingerly settled into God’s grasp afresh, my desire for divine conversing has rejuvenated. E.M. Bounds said, “No amount of praying, done today, will suffice for tomorrow’s praying.” Today is today. Today is not tomorrow. Profoundly simple. But this simplicity arrests my cycle of fruitless effort. It conserves energy spent on worry and selfish maneuvering. Prayer today – for today – opens the door to peaceful rest. It steadies the chaos. It brings clarity through a wider view of life. It sharpens perspective on the supposed urgency of this moment.
So, when I’m feeling a “Wile E.” moment, I’m learning to trust that I’m not left to free-fall. I don’t need to surrender to scribbling hopeless “Help?” signs. God is there. Watching. Waiting. Ready – to talk. To not enter the conversation would be looney.