Complacency is really a most intriguing word, as it brings to light both pride and humility in one breath.
My siblings and I are fortunate in so many ways. We have never been forced to sit in a bland classroom for hours on end. We now enjoy a lovely place in the country (though it is not perfect by any means). I wouldn’t venture to condemn any of our liberties and gifts as instruments of spoiling, but on some days I am challenged as I look at everything on a wide, pure scale.
For instance, we are approaching September 11th for the 5th time since the devastating terrorist attacks – and have past the anniversaries of multiple natural disasters – yet already complacency has settled over the nation again.
We were all thrilled at the idea of visiting White Oak Vineyards early yesterday afternoon for a family field trip. We are considering planting some grapes on our land as well, and this little expedition proved to be very enlightening. We tasted the fruits off the vine (Red Muscadines are the best), tasted Kudzu honey, and Mom and Dad tasted a few wines at the winery. We picked Mirette up from the vet just before then, so she sat in the shade of a tree in her carrier (refreshingly cooler day, I must say).
At our departure our enthusiasm remained kindled by the fact that our grandparents were scheduled to visit us later in the afternoon. We did a brisk tidying up before they arrived, and afterwards we had a nice time.
I sat on the front porch with Mom, Grandmomma and Rachel for awhile, sipping coffee on a pleasant evening. Dad and Granddaddy examined a chainsaw, and all the children at one point were distracted by a wild boy on a motorcycle that drove around our driveway (we need a gate – and a fence).
As the grandparents were preparing to leave, Grandmomma and Mom both began wondering where 2-year-old Beth had wandered. She was no longer parading around with her older siblings.
Mom always investigates the swimming pool in our backyard before anywhere else when Beth wanders. The swimming pool – a real gem of a place that sparkles not only with tempting water, but also with a much anticipated call for responsibility, caution and genuine common sense.
Red Alert attention was called to all when Mom’s sentence was broken by screams, “YOU ALL – HELP – SOMEONE!” I ran towards the pool, tossing my cup and saucer in the yard. As we gathered around the pool, we saw Mom pull Beth’s slight, pale figure from the water. She was still holding little Ben in her other hand (he was quickly passed from me to Rachel to Grandmomma by turns). Beth had been doing a backstroke under water, still moving her arms and legs in attempt to keep afloat (she swims well in her floatation bathing suit) despite her now weighty shirt and denim skirt. Mom heard her making mumbling noises as she struggle to get a breath.
Dad quickly performed somewhat of a heimlich maneuver on Beth, thus squeezing water out of her lungs. Mom picked her up and tried to bring her to reasonable conciousness. It was a mortifying sight: Beth was looking awfully delirious, and her complexion had developed a greyish hue. She began throwing up the rest of the water (I hate to write of such, but it was actually a relieving sign).
The daylight was quickly fading by then, and we all stood around outside screaming at her to wake up. It was horribly traumatic for everyone. All of us were on the verge of erupting with mass hysteria, but Granddaddy comforted everyone by repeating calmly in a low voice, “She’s going to be alright.”
Grandmomma was relatively calm, but naturally extremely concerned. “I don’t know, Chris…” she said to Mom repeatedly, and they both agreed that she needed oxygen. Mom brought her into the house, laid her down on the sunroom floor, removed her soaked clothes and changed her pull-up. There was a confused and uncertain mindset flooding everybody’s thoughts, yet we all prayed both silently and out loud. I started blowing in her face and humming lullabies to get her to stay awake.
“Dad, what do you want me to do?” I asked, expecting to be commanded to dial the dreaded emergency number: 9-1-1 (symbolic numerals are unnerving at times, aren’t they?). There was a feeling of humility resonating throughout the house. Dad had a rigid look, and Mom nervously said, “Don’t just stand there, call 9-1-1 – or somebody do it!”. Dad dialed the number without hesitation.
I literally got down on my hands and knees and prayed, “LORD , JESUS – YOU could do it for Jairus’s daughter, please restore her! Breathe in her the Breath of Life like Aslan did to the statues.” (stories and allegories that enter your mind at times like that can really help you clarify your thoughts). Mom tried to count Beth’s labored breaths and pulse rate.
Joseph and Mary paced the area weeping bitter tears, and Rachel graced the tragic Southern Belle repose: bursting into tears and fleeing the room. She apparently sought refuge at the pond – with only moonlight – and later Granddaddy sat with her on the porch swing. The other children gradually retreated to that direction as well (David was remarkably oblivious to the danger). Abigail and I were becoming rigid – and I, at least, was trembling to fight back tears (weeping and gnashing of teeth…).
Emergency workers began to arrive quickly (Dad was worried at first that they wouldn’t be able to find our property). Grandmomma held Ben in the rocking chair while Mom warmed Beth up in a quilt on the sofa. The technicians began to examine her, commenting on what a pretty little girl she is.
Just then the phone rang. I noticed on the caller I.D. that it was a call from another Christian homeschooling family: The Clarks – some of our closest friends. I picked up the phone to hear 14-year-old Jillian on the other end. She was calling to see if Sarah (age 8) could talk to Mary. I hurriedly explained that we had encountered a “horrible scare”. She was very surprised and said she would call again another time.
An elderly lady attempted to see if Beth could respond to us well, asking her to do finger motions. She was looking improved (though shy and tired) and when I asked her to fold her hands she understood me very well (oh, but she looked so pitiful with those little white hands folded!).
They gave her some oxygen by holding a little tube up to her nose. The oxygen gave her a much needed boost in strength. I took Ben outside in the front yard for some fresh air. I now know what a terrible feeling it is to witness flashing ambulances in your own driveway. I did, however, feel encouraged enough to begin educating Abigail on the purpose of backwards letters on the front of the ambulance.
Finally we all resolved to go inside to see how she was doing. A man that had not seen us all said with a jovial tone, “Oh, another one – and another…” as the multitude of children began to enter the sunroom. The cheerful, tranquil atmosphere that was in the room began to lift our spirits. Beth was still tired, but smiling and telling us that she “fell in the poos”.
The curious technician inquired what religion we belonged to. “Just plain old Protestants,” Dad replied. “We take as many as THE LORD will give us – we’re just glad HE didn’t take this one back.” We could hear their radio flooding with emergency calls – including one concerning a teenager that was not breathing.
In that one room – that one house – our little insignificant piece of the nation and the world – it seemed to me as though the whole world was closing in. It was claustrophobia of the mind. I realized how blessed and fortunate we truly are.
The vehicles and technicians departed, and Mr. Clark called to find out how little Beth had progressed. The Clarks and some other friends visiting them had a prayer meeting after I told Jillian the news. THE LORD GOD heard our united prayers!
Our grandparents remained just a little while longer. We put on Bethy Linda’s charming pink dress that Grandmomma gave to her for her birthday. She was more alert by then, just weary. Mom gave her a bath later on, which she enjoyed. She is certainly not afraid of water – and today she ran around as happy and energetic as ever. She has had no symptoms of pneumonia, etc. at all.
We have always tried to be observant and responsible to prevent such disasters, but it is so effortless to take peace and progress for granted that we often fall into complacency in a number of things. It is not good to be overly stressed and worried about various things, but when we get too high in self-confidence, it takes an unfortunate humiliation to bring us back in to recognition of the fact that we are weak and HE is strong.
I suppose that the extremes of being too stressed or too lax both result in a sort of subtle pride – the attempt to bring everything under our finite control. We have to have constant help in “hanging on the balance” – as I mentioned in an earlier writing. Then we can rest in that infinite security and tranquility that only THE CREATOR AND REDEEMER can bring.
PRAYERS FOR THE NATION AND THE WORLD,
(and may GOD BLESS!)
Sep. 10, 2006 – Some Criticism (forgot how to spell it, perfectionist…so if it is spelled wrong, so be it.)
Posted by Ballerina4Him
I don’t believe such a well detailed post was such a good idea. I can’t read the entire thing, ever! LOL! Try to make sure you can write it out in such a way so that it doesn’t sound like a forein language, or get on my nerves. And you made some errors. Mom said “NO! BETH!” when she saw Beth, not what you put down. I’m pretty sure, too…I will have to remind you to finish your school before writing such long and drawn out posts. It probably consumed 2 hours of your life…
Your criticizing sister,
Sep. 22, 2006 – Rachel – I OBJECT!
Posted by jillian
Oh pish posh Rachel! Amanda, I must say that was very well written, and I DID take the time to read it, and it was very well written, and your observance and details inspire me! The one point where you said that you got down on your knees and prayed that prayer gave me that choken up feeling you get when you are touched.
Very well written Amanda! I have to say that you have talent for writing – my Mom and I were saying the other day that you should write a book! ~Jillian
P.S. ~ I know you probably won’t read this post (since it was written quite a while ago), but I wanted to comment on the amazing job you did writing! ~*J*~