On Dreams and Pogo Sticks

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Harlem

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore–

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over–

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

― Langston Hughes

At Pogopalooza in Costa Mesa, CA, James Roumeliotis from the United States achieved an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records on July 29, 2011 after 20 hours and 13 minutes. He bounced 206,864 times on his pogo stick. When I was ten, I had dreams of this magnitude. I had a dream of myself being entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, hopping around on my pogo stick.

I was up to a couple thousand, able to hop without interruption or accident for twenty minutes at a time. I’d hop and hop across the blacktop of the driveway, the screeching springs inhaling and exhaling in rhythm. Our house, the parsonage, fortunate for all, was situated at a distance from the other neighbors. The broad-faced church loomed as my audience and shelter.

My pogo stick went on a camping trip that summer with my family and me, a brood of four children and two wayward dogs. Into the woods I jumped across the uneven and gravel-ridden campground roads. Our time came to pick up and leave, to tear down camp and continue on our vacation journey. Upon arrival to the new site, my pogo stick was discovered missing, left behind, abandoned behind a wide-girthed tree.

I know I grieved the loss of my pogo stick but I cannot recall if I grieved the loss of the dream. She was not replaced. And I suspect my parents experienced a smidgeon of elation at the absence of the repetitive squeaking shrill.

We all carry dreams. Sometimes our dreams are silly, struck down easily by a wayward obstacle or expectation. Sometimes dreams are serious calls upon our bodies, minds, and souls. They echo into the depths of night, raising our voice by the octave, building soapboxes and aiding in the rantings of firm conviction. Sometimes dreams feel giant and unwieldy, like all center and no edges – loose, flimsy and indefinable. Sometimes dreams are clear as day, outlined precise, to be filled in with color and detail and personality. Some dreams develop and some dreams are fixed. Sometimes dreams must be abandoned and others are resurrected. Sometimes they’re fought for and sometimes died for. Always are they lived for, urging for hefty doses of hope and a touch of insanity.

My dreams have progressed, we might call them adult. I dream large for the world – for peace, kindness, love and compassion to reign. I dream for the uplifting of the marginalized and justice for the corrupt. I dream of relief for the poor, sick and frightened. I dream of freedom for the wrongly incarcerated. I dream of healing for the ill and resources for the hungry, for black lives to truly matter. I dream of homes for the homeless and grace for the burdened.  I have so many dreams,  encompassed in my faith and my love for Jesus and my trust in God.

But I also hold dreams for myself. It would be safe to assume these particular dreams represent my personal calling. I am called to start a church that loves and provides relief for all. I am called to become a pastor, utilizing my talent and heart and giftedness to draw others toward grace and mercy. I am called to raising my children to the best of my ability. I am called to my marriage, growing together as equal partners in this aging life. I am called to write, to love well, to grow in my spiritual disciplines, to become ever closer to Jesus in model and spirit. I am called to be an expression of Love, as a woman in a man’s world.

One of my kids lamented at the cusp of middle school, wishing they were as smart as their friend, Tom. I replied with severity and admonition: You are kind and compassionate, your giftedness is not academic. Tom may get good grades, he is gifted at school, but Tom is an asshole. My goal for you is to not be an asshole.

As our dreams grow into callings, may we move forward with grace, asking questions, seeking answers and avoiding assholery. May we find the ultimate calling, in the words of Frederick Buechner:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Sometimes our calling finds us and sometimes we have to wrestle it down. Sometimes our calling is our deepest desire and usually our calling terrifies the sh*t out of us. Sometimes our calling extends beyond our lifetimes, the seed planted by us but watered by another. A calling is not easy, a calling is terrifying, incapable of being ignored.

While I suspect my dream to enter the pogo stick record books is dead, my calling to become is secure and formed. I do not quite know how I will get from point A to B, but I trust in the benevolence of God. Where there’s a vision, there will be a way. And I will strive really hard not to be an asshole in the process.

Dream away friends.