The Road Well Traveled

Often my wife and I feel as if we are all too regular travelers on the road to nowhere. Scratch that, I shouldn't say nowhere. Often we feel like the road we are on leads to a place known as Wits End.

Wits End, is a very small town, as far as population goes. More often than not the population seems to just be 2. No more, but occasionally less, depending on whether or not one of us is away with other family, work, or church responsibilities when the sudden detour appears on our horizon.

You might have visited this not-so-quaint little place yourself on occasions - especially if you have teenagers. A single lane road, riddled with washouts and potholes is the only point of entry to Wits End, and its dilapidated ghostlike resemblance of a town. It is nestled precariously on a cliff overlooking a jagged rocky coastline of eddies, riptides, and whirlpools. The damp air, which is whipped to a frenzy by the blustering coastal winds, can leave one soaked, and chilled to the bone. The briny air, thick with salt, masks the burning sensation in your the eyes caused by myriads of tears.

In brief moments of optimism one wonders if 'Frequent Flyer Miles' or 'Redeemable Points' are accumulated each time you are whisked off to Wits End for an unexpected and all too sudden visit. Such thoughts are dashed when you discover that the only item available for redemption with the points is a much-too-small box of Calgon, with never enough capacity to 'take' you 'away!'

Some days the detours that send us on our way are anticipated, other days they strike suddenly without warning. Take for instance our trip to the Trunk-or-Treat at Church. We knew going in that the risk of a meltdown was quite high, and that an overload and meltdown were highly probable. What we didn't anticipate was that the meltdown took only seconds to occur after our arrival, rather than ten or fifteen minutes. Those trips to Wits End, though no less demanding, pass more quickly.

Then there are those days when the detour appears out of nowhere on a sudden. Screeching breaks, and frantic turns of the wheel cannot keep us from being forced onto the off ramp to arrive all too suddenly at the end of the road. One such detour appeared out of the blue just last week. Without going into too much detail lets just say in today's any climate saying such things to a Teacher's Aide like, 'I'm going to kill her with a gun and a pocket knife and set her on fire,' will bring your trip to a sudden and concise exit.

After being called down to the office last Friday to meet the Vice Principal, my wife tried her best to give some background on Ethan and life in our home. As they spoke it became obviously clear to the others that communication for him is mostly the regurgitation of movie lines and quotes - some of the time the lines fit adorably well into context, such as the time he was taking a test and quoted Daddy Daycare, 'You're killing me, you're really killing me.' Other times the words coming out of his mouth are abstract and whirled together from a variety of movies so much so that it is impossible to know what he is trying to say.

As the Principle spoke with my wife about Ethan's actions, my wife asked Ethan if he understood that what he did was wrong. All she got was the mish-mashed conglomeration of Matilda lines, and quotes from two other movies he hasn't seen in years. Then it happened. There, in the Principle's office my wife came to a screeching halt smack-dab in the heart of Wits End!!! Other struggles from the week then appeared over the horizon, each clambering for attention, and blockading the only road in or out of town.

Over time we have learned one valuable lesson: Wits End is a mirage! But, knowing it is a mirage doesn't mean that life is easy. We still get caught by surprise, we still get overwhelmed, and we still feel an occasional sense of distress and helplessness when the detour arrives and our journey takes us to that vacant lot of despair. But if we are patient, remember to breath (including lots of deep breaths) and trust in the Lord, then the wind changes, the fog lifts, and Wits End fades away in the light of hope!

Such was the case on Sunday. 

We were still wading through the events of Friday, and feelings were a little tender. It was Fast Sunday at Church, which means the meeting is for members to share a heartfelt testimony. I was conducting the meeting, so I had the opportunity to share my feelings first then turn the meeting over to the members. The events of Friday were so close to the surface that I had in fact spoken briefly about what had taken place with Ethan and expressed my gratitude for those small fleeting moments when we get glimpses into his mind and get to hear him, pure, undiluted, without scripted words.

I sat down and a handful of members came forward and shared their testimonies. Then it happened. Ethan stood up and came to the stand. I looked over to my wife who was weeping. I made eye contact with Morgan who shot me a text: 'Ethan said he wants to bear his testimony!'

My initial thought was this was trouble with a capital 'T'. I showed the text to the Bishop, to prep him - just in case. There was no telling what Ethan was going to say; it could be anything, and I mean anything!

It was his turn. He stood, smiled at me, and walked to the podium. I asked if he needed help. He shook his head no. He reached up, adjusted the microphone, grabbed the edges of the podium with both hands and cleared his throat.
'I want to bear my testimony, I know the Church is true. I want to be a good boy and not say shut up. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!'
He turned and walked back to his seat. Each step bringing with it a gust of wind and a ray of light until Wits End disappeared, vanishing as quickly as it had appeared.

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