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"I was Scared"

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

"Some time we are loved so much, all we can do is smile!" are the words my good friend Cubert Argentine once told me.

I often think tears are our most intimate prayer. Whether we are trying to connect with God, our family or friends, sometimes the only thing we can do is smile.

I remember one time in college, going through one of the growth periods we all go through at one time or another, when I couldn't pray. Oddly enough, I couldn't cry either. I don't know what was going on, but I do know that the connection I once always felt I had, I'd lost. And until I could find a way to soften my heart, and allow myself to taste the salt of my tears, I couldn't connect. God could hear me, but I refused to listen. In much the same way, we fail to hear our children's voices.

When I left college, I came home with more baggage then I took, but as is often the case, if we pack good stuff, we keep it. I found what I'd lost, and realized how important it was that I remember the connection between God and me depended as much on me as Him. After a dry spell, I was able to pray again, and God consoled my tears. As parents, I think we forget to the importance of listening to those we love until they cry. It's an intimacy that reaches way beyond us. Sometime we may bring our kids to tears. That, per se, is not bad; it's not sharing that intimacy that can be unforgivable.

A few Sundays ago, Jeremy and I read during the youth services at church. I'm an actor, I love being on stage, but I'm also aware of the fact you need to prepare. Jeremy had agreed to read with me, but as I attempted to coach him, he just practiced a bit, and shrugged his shoulders as if it was a piece of cake. I resigned myself to the fact he was ready.

As we waited for our chance to read, he began telling me his stomach was bothering him. I told him he should have eaten. He was antsy, but he was going to do this, though he wanted to renege on his promise. Then our time came to read. And lo and behold, in front of this audience he seemed to forget himself. I was supposed to read a verse, and then he would read a verse. But he began to read my lines. I was mortified. How could he do this? His posture at the lectern was irreverent. He just slouched. Here we were in front of the assembled crowd, and I was being embarrassed. Wait until later I fumed as I decided to "read" some of his lines. Which I did! How could he do this?

Well, after it was all over, and we were ready to leave, several people came up to us and commented on how appreciative they were to see father and son read. Even the priest made a comment from the pulpit. I nodded and thanked them. Jeremy was a bit withdrawn as we walked to the car in our matching shirts that mom had made. Yet once in the car, I unloaded.

How could you do that? Do you realize how important you maintain a sense of reverence when you in front of the congregation? I asked you if you needed to practice more, and you told me you didn't. Why didn't you do it as we rehearsed? I continued to interrogate him, as his brother sat in the back and listened. Finally, as we drove into one of the asphalt ocean parking lots at "The Forum," Jeremy decided he'd had enough. He opened the door to get out. Tears streaming down his face, he unloaded. "You don't even care!" Shocked by his tears, my anger somewhat subsided at the fact he was attempting to get out. I asked, "What do you mean? Why are you crying?"

"I was scared," he said.

Well I didn't expect that. He, who'd been so calm and collected when he'd performed before. He who was such a ham, he'd never ever be koshered. My son, the son of another ham, had been hit with what we commonly call ‘stage fright,' and I didn't recognize it. I was floored. His tears had stopped me, and it was as if his pain became mine as I apologized profusely and asked, as parents are apt to ask, "Why didn't you tell me?" His response was a classic one. "I thought you knew!"

Seeing the empathy in my eyes, he knew. He knew as God knows our pain. He knew as friends and families know. Because sometimes all we can do is smile, once we listen.

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