Thursday, August 25, 2011

Power in the Instant: A Story of Larceny and Love

It could be watching Flight of the Concord clips on YouTube, restarting the dryer because the towels were still damp, brushing teeth, sweating onions for soup, or splashing through the surf on a perfect summer day at the beach.  Our days are full of hours which pack themselves with minutes made of moments.  In those moments are instants.  In an instant is power.

This particular instant in this latest story of our lives was one week ago today.  In this instant I was standing in the kitchen talking to my mother as she dried her jar, out of which I had just rinsed the salad dressing.  

But, as with all stories, this instant started millions of instants ago.  

I'll pick two.  

How about the instant I decided to use one of my purses to hold my growing collection of sunglasses and hang it handily in the front entranceway on a hook above the shoe bench.  Out of the way, yet handy.  Good job, Jordan.  The other, I am standing at the stove stirring paparadelle into a new tomato sauce I created for dinner for me and the rascals.  Then, I pat myself on the back because I'm making dinner again and I feel my footing beginning to firm one month after Lucy's Shark.

Fast forward maybe 6,742 instants.  Craig is in the Outer Banks.  My mom comes over because our visiting teachers arrive at 8:00 to visit with the two of us in our home.  They came and went.  Five minutes pass.  I am standing in the kitchen talking to my mother as she dries her jar out of which I had just rinsed the salad dressing.  She is getting ready to head home.  The door had been unlocked for the five minutes between our visiting teachers leaving and the next instant.

I hear the front door (that darn squeaky thing) open.  In front of my mind I thought that sweet Sarah and Christine had come back for something.  After I took the six steps toward the front door, in front of my eyes was a too familiar nightmare.  You know, that nightmare, where a strange man just walks into your home when your husband is not there and you have four kids sleeping upstairs?  That one.  The one where you scream but you can't.

Only this was live and in color.

9:03 PM.  Tall, skinny, black with dark clothes and a blank stare is coming though the doorway.  I stare back in horror bracing myself against the corner of the wall three feet from his brazenness.  As I stare in that instant I also shout,


But when the words came out it sounded more like "GUHT OLT!"  Because what I later learned was shock rendered my tongue frozen.  I could barely speak or yell.  

He ignored my bungled plea and took 1 1/2 steps into the entryway in front of me, lifted that purse full of nothing but sunglasses off its handy hook, turned and ran up the driveway.

My mom was there.  The porch light was on.  Our two cars sat out front.  Horror filled the world and drowned it in that instant.  

My mom experienced the same swelled tongue and we tried to put words to what just happened like we had both just had major dental work done.  Then we panicked locking each door in the house twice.

I called the police, Seth came out of his room a scared little boy (had never gone to sleep and heard the whole thing).  The officer and his lights came and recorded the instants of interest.  I called Craig.  He felt very far away.  My Dad came.  They slept downstairs.

I spend the next while talking Seth down in a fake happy-calm voice. 12:00am.  Seth asks, "When will I forget this night?"  Soon after he drifts off.  I want to go crawl between my mom and dad in the bed downstairs and be 12 again.  Instead I go and my Dad gives me a blessing.  In it: promises from God of calm, peace, safety and love.


In an instant resides all the power in the world.  This instant does not however, as one might suppose, get its power from the possibility of change, but from the effect change can have on ours and others capacity to strengthen and love.  If nothing else this summer, I am learning this.  But also learning that I have to choose to accept that effect and facilitate it.  Part of me wants to crawl into a tiny hole where nothing else can fit but my own shivering well-being.  This is not right though.  We have an expanse to fill and embrace in this life and we have to start now.  Even when we feel like we are being destroyed.

I know with time, soon even, I will draw up the blinds again in the family room.  I won't be shaken to the ground when the UPS man drops a package on our porch.  When that time passes, I'll go out in the dusk to shut the coop.  I'll stand at the window after dinner admiring the tiny birds in the tip tops of the three oaks instead of scanning the area for potential prowlers.  

Today is the first day of school.  I promise a picture and some prose on that later.  But today here, one week after what we are referring to as "the larceny", I had to continue our story.

But, like all true stories, there is no true ending.  We just keep going on and on.  And in that endlessness I'm finding gratitude in the instants along the way that God has guided.  Our own, and those who are helping us go on.  To name just a few,

A mother with me.
A decoy purse in plain view.
Sleeping sisters.
Strong Seth.
Friends who weren't invited to that one wedding so that they were with us instead at the beach on 7/19.

I reviewed that chapter in a favorite book last night with my mom.  Where the author defines the Hebrew word from the book of Genesis, Timshel: Thou mayest.  We found such truth and power in these words.

"I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”    

John Steinbeck, East of Eden.


Sarah said...

Hi Jordan,
I had a very similar experience. My husband was out of town, all the kids were asleep, and I kept waking up. I was so worried about my kids, which was silly (they were sleeping safe in their beds). For several hours I was up and down...until finally, I heard a voice on the stairs. I hopped up immediately and met an intoxicated man wandering between floors. I told him to LEAVE NOW and then grabbed all of my children, barricaded them in the room with me, and called the police. The police dogs actually chased him down while we were holed up in the bedroom! No one was injured but I was shaken. I know that it was the Spirit that kept whispering to me all night...warning me that my kids were in danger. Now, looking back, instead of fear, I feel only a heart full of thankfulness that we were protected.

Plus, I have a really great story to tell. Once I gave the full story in a sacrament meeting could have heard a pin drop.

Christine said...

I'm so glad that everyone was okay and that the purse was a "decoy." How scary! We will definitely be keeping our doors loced and our eyes open.

Jessica said...

So incredibly scary. I can't even imagine. I'm glad you all are okay.

Jordan said...

Sarah! So frightening! I am glad you were sensitive to those whisperings.

The Boohers said...

I love this post. It's so true that an instant can change things for better or worse, and you inspired me to focus on the for-better part. Thanks!

Jenny said...

My favorite line from this post: "We have an expanse to fill and embrace in this life and we have to start now. Even when we feel like we are being destroyed." Beautiful, and just what I needed to hear today.

Melanie Anne said...

Oh my that is awful--that is my worst nightmare! What a blessing that your Mom was with you! Thank you for sharing your experiences and testimony. I am always inspired by your words. I love how you acknowledge and appreciate the hand of God in your life. You are a beautiful soul and I am so happy to have found your blog:)

BRENTandROBIN + two said...

Holy crap Jordan! That's absolutely horrifying! I am so so grateful you guys are all safe and sound. I know it's going to take some time to recover, but it will come. Big, warm, comforting, hugs from us to YOU! Hang in there.

Ingrid said...

I oftentimes think of how LDS missionaries are always in pairs and how much of it has to do with not only companionship, but safety as well. You had your dear mother by your side that night, as a companion...and a safety net. What a blessing! What a blessing! And your sunglasses purse was absolutely an inspired, perfect decoy. I am so happy to know you and your family are ok.

Cami said...

You are truely an inspiration, bless you

Stephanie Aurora Clark Nielson said...

wow. Seriously? Wow.

Lacey said...

My heart is racing. My goodness! How unbelievably scary. I'm so glad you are all safe.

Arbon Family said...

Jordan I am so sorry that happened. THAT IS ONE of my biggest nightmares. I am so glad you are all OK and that you were inspired to hang that purse there. I am so sorry that I was so insensitive. After our conversation the other night at Champs I assumed you were talking about something else when you said on FB to always lock your doors... I am sorry. Hope the first day of school went well for everyone!

Jeni said...

Something similar happened to me when I was 12, only it was my bedroom window. I walked into my room, our eyes met and I escaped running to the other end of my empty house, hoping he wasn't behind me. The fear and anxiety still haunt me, especially when my husband is working nights at the hospital like yours, but in a way to comfort myself I offer prayers of gratitude that he didn't leave physical scars as well as emotional, and I find a little solace in that. I pray that you can quickly heal from this and feel safe in your home again.

LCFrohm said...

Your attitude and words are always so inspiring. I only wish I can be like you, when I grow up. ;)
I am thankful that your family is safe.
I can only imagine the emotional hell you have been through in this last months. Hopefully, just as Lucy's scars fade, so will yours.
Let me know what sunglasses you need replaced. Heavens knows you need another decoy purse (as does everyone!!)

Jessica said...

The horror! No more horrific moments this summer! I'm so glad at least your mom was there to share that terrifying experience with you so you weren't alone. So glad you are safe. Hope you splurge on an awesome pair of replacement sunglasses.

madsta said...

You guys are DEFINETLY due some extra good stuff, I'm sure of it, so glad everyone is safe, and as materialistic of me as it is, I hope you get some new sunglasses, we are the last house on our road to have not been burgled whilst we've lived here I think, got a brand new alarm fitted not two weeks ago as the riots kicked off.

olivia said...

g o o s e b u m p s.

i pray you heal as well as lucy's wound.

The Original Mangums said...

Lucy's leg is looking great! Soon this terrible experience will be a bad memory, but one that was life changing! But change is good, awareness of what can happen, a thankfulness that all he took was a purse of sunglasses and left you, your mom, and the children in tact. How grateful we are that Father watches out for us and lets us learn. We love you!

Tristen said...

I cannot believe this story!! What a crazy story, I'm so glad your mom was there with you and I'm sort of laughing because that ridiculous robber only got a purse full of sunglasses. Hang in there, you've got a lot going on these days. I think if it was me I'd be tempted to find me a good counselor to talk through some of the crazy things that you are being faced with, all at once! Good luck! And I am absolutely, totally impressed by you and your family, you do such great work here on this earth.

And I had to look up pappardelle on wikipedia. :)

Smiley Blogger! said...

How scary! I'm so glad all of you are all safe. I'm young (in secondary school) and walked in by myself during a burglary while my family was in the garage. We soon forget the horrible things that have happened to us and think of the great blessings that we had received during those rough moments.

Michelle said...

Something like this happened to me mom when I was six and my dad was out of town. My mom threatened the intruders with a never used empty rifle and karate- seriously. My dad was out of town for a long time and all of us kids slept in our mom's bed for a month. Still a scary fun story, but mostly I remember how brave my mom was.
Wow what a summer.

Krisanne said...

Timshel--such a beautiful sentiment. My prayers are with all of you, Jordan.

kelly said...

i have read and re-read your post on and off all day. I have no words. I needed to type something, to express how deeply sorry I felt for you. You have had the worst insane out of this world things happen in the last month or so, that I have to believe that that was it. Buy a lottery ticket, you will probably win. Your bad misfortune is certain to turn thinking of you all..
from kelly.. xxx

Allison said...

What a summer! I don't know you, but have been uplifted by your writing, your faith and your courage.

Tasha said...

Wow Jordan. That is unbelievable. It is so clear that your family is being watched over, love to you all.

jennyonthespot said...

I have no words. I have been reading you for a LONG time. I don't think I've commented. I just come enjoy and come back again. Then... your Lucy. The shark... My Lucy goes into first grade this coming week. I sit, cry... pray. We had a scarring (emotionally) event with my son when he was 2.5. When I read about your journey though those unsure & fearful moments, I flashback to those times 10 years ago with my son. Then I think of my Lucy... in your Lucy's place... and my heart goes out to you, Mama. I don't have words ... and then this. I am stunned, and so thankful for the hand of grace I see working in the life of your family.

Evie said...

I wish I had words to express the hope that you and your family experience no further trials. I am in awe of your courage and strength and grateful that you have your faith and the love of your family to support you.

Know also that there are people here an ocean away who also pray for you and your loved ones.

geeno said...

hi jordan, another stranger here... i had to say thanks for the perspective you give in this post. my mom, sis and i have been having a lovely email flurry based around it, steinbeck excerpt and all - agency of others, faith conquering fears... thanks for putting some good out there to cancel out some of the bad