Ambiguity, Part 2 of 3

A very personal reflection based on Luke 21.5-19


“Keep climbin’ those trees, keep chasin’ those butterflies” became a mantra for me for much of my early and young adult life. Whenever confronted by trouble, I would remember Uncle Sy’s words and, seeking some inner resolve, strive to press on.

On an overcast evening, I stood at Uncle Sy’s bedside during the final moments of his life. His body ravaged by age and illness. Once strong arms, now weak. Once powerful hands, shriveled and small. His once resonant voice, barely audible. As he once had held me, I held him. As he once had wiped tears from my eyes, I comforted him as we spoke about the days of my youth at his place, my world.

There was a moment of silence. Then he said, as if aware of my thoughts, “Don’t worry about me. You just keep climbin’ those trees and chasin’ those butterflies.”

After Uncle Sy’s death, secrets came to light through stories about an angry and abusive alcoholic. Uncle Sy, given to frequent raging about life’s inequalities and injustices, terrorized all around him.

In the depths of denial, I didn’t want to believe it. The revelations shattered my view of Uncle Sy’s place, my world, and the figure of Uncle Sy, who, in many ways, as the one who often made things right, was my image of God.

Slowly, painfully, through my anger at those family truth-tellers who, by their witness, turned my world upside down, and through my anger at myself for not having seen through the façade and for having fabricated a world out of what I then believed to have been a lie, I came to accept the damning testimony, which allowed me to begin to behold something else, which, I believe, points to a greater degree of truth.

More to come…

© 2021 PRA

1 thought on “Ambiguity, Part 2 of 3

  1. Dear Paul,

    You had me with Part 1, and now I am fully captivated. I need to know Uncle Sy’s story. You’re so good at knowing and sharing what connects people to your own deepest experiences. I’ll relate my own personal ties with aspects of this after Part 3.




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