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Last week my sister posted a comment on FB about Red Rover and “clothes-lining” someone from the other team. It made me laugh (in a wicked, insensitive way before the guilt set in. I hoped nobody thought I really would. Her, I’m not so sure). However, it also triggered memories of the childhood game. Because we had a large family, the neighborhood often gathered at our house and we easily formed two lines of at least 5 players.

I miss Red Rover. I miss the camaraderie of lining up with friends and siblings, hand-in-hand and facing down the opposition. We’d place the smaller members between the stronger ones for additional strength, then plant our feet and flex our knees. Solidarity. Loyalty. Firm grips and determination. “Nothing’s going to break our line!” stares.

There are days when I wish I could grab half a dozen hands and stand against the challenges of life. I hope my friends know I am willing to stand with them! Maybe it comes from playing Red Rover, but a part of me is very fierce.

But a bigger part of me is very compassionate. I don’t “clothesline” rushing opposition. I hold firm against it, but I also empathize with the charger. I know how it feels to rush against established lines, hoping to break through and pass beyond the barrier. I resist bureaucratic and societal limitations.

And nothing beats being able to grab a hand and claim a new friend for your own line of defense.

We battle opposition every day. Degrading entertainment and advertisements, angry voices in the media, greasy promises and twisted reports from politicians, economic strangleholds, and down-right disgruntled people who are just kicking the cat. But when we stand together, when we let people know that we value their connection, when we listen, express gratitude, offer ideas, and sometimes share a piece of ourselves, willing to expose our weaknesses so that they know where to strengthen us, we stand stronger.

But if you find you no longer can just stand, but must answer the inner call to rush forward, I hope you have many friends cheering you on, that your heart doesn’t waiver and your will is strong enough to burst through the barriers.

And that you find a new friend or rescue a lost one.

Then, on a summer night when it’s too hot to sit indoors, and crickets and an early moon are calling, gather your children and their friends and teach them to play Red Rover.

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