The deafening silence of darkness

 
Grief woke me up this morning with nothing to do except look at a dark sky, and just wait for the sunrise. I sipped on my coffee and starred into the darkness waiting for the light to come in. That’s how my heart feels right now.

My friend’s dying.

For someone who talks too much, and thinks too much, and does too much. This one thought shut me up for a good amount of time last night.

It’s interesting timing. I’m not one who gives much thought to success, but even though I”m not and never will be famous, successful, or rich…I recognize that for a grandson of a hoosier hillbilly I’m the closest I may ever be to it or ever will be. I receive weekly emails about how my last movie Ragamuffin changed their life. We estimate hundreds of thousands of people have seen the movie. Literally one week from today my movie next movie will be screened for the first time, and we even got some big shot Hollywood folks coming, and today I have a meeting with my manager because I’m pitching my first pilot to a network. They liked it so much they asked me to come back in and pitch it to the whole team…whatever that means.

And yet…my friend is dying.

This morning I read this:

“Grief … gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.”
– C.S. Lewis A Grief Observed

I wish I could have a smoke with C.S. Lewis right now.

My wife laughs at me because what I call my office, is more reflective of a redneck’s porch. My desk is a large white cooler. My office chair is one of those types that you’d fold up and take to go camping with you. What do you call it? But I love my office. It looks off into the sky, as we live in a third floor apartment. It’s definitely an Indiana porch…or at least…the part of Indiana that I’m more comfortable in…

And last night, as I sipped my cocktail, and puffed on my djarum cigar …there was an eery silence that was almost deafening. I couldn’t quite describe and may not even be able to now…but I couldn’t tell if what I was feeling was coming from the inside and it was distorting my view of the outside world…or if it was coming from the outside world and distorting my view of my inside world. Either way. I didn’t like it. I like the silence that comes from a good hike in Yosemite, not from the realities of a good friend dying.

With all this razzmatazz that’s happened and is happening in my life…I couldn’t help but go…who gives a shit. Who gives a shit about any of it. And you know what…I think that’s really healthy. Too often I do give a shit…about what is unhealthy. I care very much about what doesn’t matter, and my days, thoughts, and even day dreams are quite often filled with razzmatazz.

What I call razzmatazz, might also be synonymous with “the ugly stuff”, or “the stuff that doesn’t matter”…the hoopla, the powdered sugar, the cherry on top. And yet I think there is something deep in the depravity…deep in the human brokenness that is tightly ingrained in us…that we never really stop craving the shit that doesn’t matter.

As much theology as I have, as much as I read, a much positive thinking I can muster, as much as I can clench my teeth, and roll up my shirt sleeves, and grin and bear it…to avoid the shit that doesn’t matter…it seems almost 30 second later I find myself filling my mind, pursuit, and day dreams with the razzmatazz of life.

Sigh.

I want the death of those things. I want them gone. Permanently. But I have an aching feeling this will always be the case. No matter what state I live in, or what career I have, or who I’m married to, or what group of friends I have…this will be the constant merry-go-round of my inner turmoil. Oh, sure this is where the super Christian might pipe up and go…but Jesus can redeem you…and there can be victory…and your heart can be regenerated…and you can grow in your continuing sanctification ….words. Words. That’s all I hear. They don’t touch or even pierce the realities of the human existence, or at least my human existence. No matter how much I love, or allow myself to be loved. No matter how much I muster or surrender. There’s just shit in my heart that ain’t quite right.

There’s a counting crows song that has a particular lyric that’s always haunted me…”We all want to be rock stars…but yeah…we all got different reasons for that.”

Whether you’re an actor, or a missionary. Whether your an accountant, or a doctor. Whether your a pastor, or the president. Whether you work behind the counter of a 7-eleven, or you collect unemployment…you…me…”we all want to be rock stars.”

I tell my lovely wife often…I’m glad I never became a pastor, or a missionary, or some type of “professional christian type”…because I’d still be me. I’d still be David. I’d still have these same struggles of wanting me above Jesus…only if I was one of those things…a pastor, a missionary, ect…it would be much easier to hide. What on the outside looked very holy like charity, or supplication, or surrender…could be a very seductive mask fooling myself into thinking I was being holy, when I was really dead inside.

So as I drink my coffee, and the sun has fully come up I recognize I’m no longer in darkness, but awake in the light. I still can’t help but feel the haunting feeling of silence. The haunting feeling of knowing…

My friend is dying.

I hate that it takes death to make you realize what really matters in this life. My grandma who was really my mom died on her birthday last April…and I couldn’t help but think…how can I loose two of the most important people of my whole life in the same fucking year? A selfish thought, I know. I can’t seem to escape those. I wish I could like turning off a nozzle. But I can’t seem to turn off a nozzle to my pain either.

I just kept picturing this current movie I made becoming enormously successful, whatever that means…and hundreds of thousands …if not millions of people seeing it…and with each puff of smoke I inhaled I said…”who cares…”

My friend is dying.

I think my friend’s life is a sermon. A sermon that shouts…don’t cry for me. Life life to the fullest, because none of us have that much to begin with. Whether we live to 35 or 85, it all can be reduced to a calculated sum.

In a back hallway we have the first concept poster for “Ragamuffin” hanging on our wall. And I walked back there, and stood there…and looked at the Rich Mullins quote.

“In the end it won’t matter if you have a few scars…it will matter if you didn’t live.”

I started thinking about my friend Kyle’s scars. the scar from his brain surgery. The scars that know one can see. The scars on the inside, that sear his soul. And today I’m thinking about that damn Rich Mullins quote…and how I think it’s true…it doesn’t matter how many scars Kyle’s has on the outside or the inside…all that matter is did he live? And even though I’ve only experienced intermittent chapters of Kyle’s life…I can tell you when we were together…we were really alive, and therefore lived.

I’ll be honest the notion of heaven isn’t giving me a lot of hope throughout all of this. People often say…we’ll he’s going to a good place. You know that doesn’t really make me feel better, maybe it’s helpful for some, so keep on saying it…but not to me. I think the geography of the soul is really pointless, but what does make me feel better …is not where he will be…but who he will be with. And I do believe it will be Jesus. And the same Jesus that he is going to is the same one that sat with me in silence last night as I smoked my cigar, and sipped my cocktail. It’s the same Jesus that held my heart as I brewed my coffee this morning. It’s the same Jesus that every day has to draw my heart back to him so I’m not swallowed up by my own dreams.

Kyle and I once witnessed a true miracle. At a camp one summer, a completely deaf girl…was healed. There was no prayer time, or healing service. It just happened. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

I’ve often wondered as God has chosen to not heal my dying friend, what he’s thought about that memory, or if he’s thought about it at all. I don’t know. But I know saying trivial things like “God has a plan..or knows best” isn’t helpful right now, no matter if it’s true. I don’t think anything makes me feel better except for God. And not because I receive answers from God…because I don’t, but I feel better like I would if I was cold and I put on a jacket. God doesn’t give me answers, but he makes me feel warm. A quote comes to mind…

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

-C.S. Lewis

Normally when I feel the way I do …I call up some of my guy friends. In no particular order i usually end up calling Bryan, Matt, Randy, Justin, Todd, Dave, & Liechty. Last week I was driving to work and I called up every single one. Voicemail and voicemail…and then Matt Liechty answered. “What’s up?” he said…and I said…”I just need a friend.” I told him…

I think Kyle’s dying.

And I cried. I think that’s when it really hit me. Sometime last week. My friend Liechty didn’t say anything profound, but what he did was more profound than any words he could have spoken…he listened.

I would have called all my buddies this morning…because I just needed a friend. But it was five in the morning, and still dark. So instead of sharing my grief, I thought I’d write about it.

Whenever I write, I’m writing with the intention or at least the hope to help someone…and sometimes I recognize that’s it’s more helpful for me than for anyone else….

But today I just needed to take a walk so to speak, sip on some coffee, watch the sunrise, cry a little bit, and walk into the darkness of grief and see if I would come out alive.

And I did. So thank you for taking that walk with me today, for those who’ve read my endless wandering and wondering’s.

When it comes to grief, it seems being active is better than being still, or I’ll end up in a coma of self pity or depression.

So what do you do…when nothing seems to matter? Not your dreams, pursuits, or ambitions. Nothing.

I don’t know. I don’t know today, and I probably won’t any time soon.

So…maybe I’ll take another walk tomorrow, or maybe I’ll just call a friend, or better yet maybe I’ll just smoke a cigar and be with Jesus.

David Leo Schultz

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~ by David Leo Schultz on November 24, 2015.

One Response to “The deafening silence of darkness”

  1. David – thank you for sharing your heart. There are no words to take the pain. As Dave M. said…’let me hurt!’ I’m glad you have friends who know how to listen….to listen more than they speak, and in so doing speak volumes. I’m so thankful for the friendship you have with Kyle and regardless of what happens, for the influence he has obviously had on your life and will continue to have. For now….while you hang out with Jesus, just know your friend from Ohio is sending a hug and a few prayers. “It’s okay to not be okay…this is a safe place” as Plumb sings. Just….be.

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