It’s my favorite painting ever. Partly because I lived it, I lived in the Low Country during Hurricane Hugo. I heard the winds tearing down the houses and uprooting acres of Carolina Pines. I remember how the air smelled like Christmas for days in September of 1989. I know the devastating damage of a Hurricane.
I also know how much gets unearthed in a Hurricane. Secret lives get exposed, caskets are exhumed by flooding and often child birth is brought on by the Barometric pressure changes. All potentially initiated by something as simple as a butterfly flapping it’s wings at a certain time and place.
I read somewhere a while ago that many of us compare the backstage of our rehearsals to everyone else’s final production. Mostly because most of us don’t share our dress rehearsals let alone the back stage.
We all wear a mask. I have met very few people in this world who are who they are all the time. And even the most genuine people I think I know are still adding at least a little window dressing from time to time. And it takes a lot of time and a lot of trust to get to the relationships that are heartbreakingly real. I have had a few of those relationships in my life.
Let’s face it the world expects us to hide. We want to hide and we want the people we love to hide. I have a few Facebook friends who are younger, less worldly and every single thing that happens to them becomes this major drama episode on Facebook. We call it drama, and we avoid it. There are days I just wanna post “Honey, bless your sweet little heart, your crazy is showing.” Not because I think she is bothered by showing her crazy, but because I am. It’s uncomfortable when people are honest.
I was raised in a culture that doesn’t show their crazy. Ever. I grew up just outside of Charleston, SC in a little town called Goose Creek. The weather was warm, the gossip was loud and the crazy was buried deep.
One of my favorite songs by Miranda Lambert, “Momma’s Broken Heart” sums it up nicely,
Go and fix your make up, girl, it’s just a break up
Run and hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady
'Cause I raised you better, gotta keep it together
Even when you fall apart
But this ain’t my mama’s broken heart
And that’s how it was. I’m not saying everyone in Goose Creek is like that, and I sure hope they aren’t but it’s how I was raised. It’s like I grew up in Vegas, what happened in our house, stayed in our house.
But after I left that house and the South for Yankee land, I learned that secrets don’t go away just because you don’t discuss them. Quite the opposite happens, often times secrets take on a power all their own. And to the world the people who look the most perfect are actually wrecks on the inside.
Maybe we all can be a little more comfortable with the honest ones. And a little more comfortable sharing our faults. One of the most important things I’ve learned (from a real life Jersey Girl none the less) is that sometimes just the right question asked at just the right moment by just the right person can bring all those secrets up to the surface where they can be discussed and examined. And when that’s done, those secrets lose their power. They no longer hold the key to a prison of guilt and shame.
Often the labels we have for ourselves in our heads don’t hold up to the light of day. And a person asking “How many years is enough punishment for that mistake which honestly isn’t yours alone to bear?” Makes a person really think about what forgiveness really means.
Maybe that’s why I like The Storm so much. I’ve lived that picture literally and figuratively. The right person asking me the right question at the right time pulled my secrets out like the Hurricane throwing the ocean over the sea wall. And what we unearthed was forgiveness. Forgiveness sought and forgiveness accepted.