“Worry is like a rocking chair: it keeps you moving but doesn’t get you anywhere.” Corrie Ten Boom
“You can’t let a rocking chair take over. You get up and go even it you don’t want to.” Constance Reeves 102 year old cowgirl
When I was a little girl, I loved to rock in the rocking chair at my grandmother’s house. Back and forth, staring out the window, the creek crack protests of the wood were hypnotic. My great Uncle Jan had crafted it just for Grammie, and had also built a small table she kept near the rocker for her telephone. I would watch her rock, speaking in Polish to her friends, slowly, than faster when the topic must have become more interesting, then stopping when she’d burst out in laughter. She’d plant her feet firmly then, but rock her body, throwing back her head as peals of laughter shook her.
When I was eighteen, I moved in with Grammie so I could attend college in Buffalo, where she lived. We relocated the little table and placed the desk and typewriter I bought with my summer earnings in that spot …putting the phone on my desk and moving the rocker closer to the window. I sat there often. At first, I spent a lot of time staring at that phone.
Long distance calls were expensive and rare in those days. Two weeks after I arrived, I spent my first birthday without my family on the phone, seriously homesick, rocking while I cried, my mom talking me into staying at school. After settling in and making friends, I sat there reading, or thinking through papers, my rocking increasing in speed with the flow of my ideas until, propelled by them, I leapt to my desk and began to write. That chair and that leap made college possible.
Later, it was Grammie’s rocker that sounded the alarm to my first broken heart. The crack of the wood echoed the breaking inside as I watched the rain flow down the window like unshed tears, the groaning of the chair an expression of my mourning. Then, when I met Doug, and we’d talk on the phone, I’d curl inside its arms, lay my head on its back, and see my future.
I put a lot of mileage on that old rocker.
Grammie continued her journey in it after I graduated and married…slower as she aged, as old friends passed on. This woman, who had been a force of nature, rising at six to clean her home, journeying to the Polish market, taking two buses to go to Polish mass, began to look out the window as if back into the past,the creaking a wistful harmony to the Polish music on the radio. Then, her rocking stopped.
When our daughter was born, Nan, my husband’s grandmother, gave us an old powder blue upholstered rocker which we placed in the living room just outside the kid’s bedroom. It had a gentler tone, neek breek, neek breek, neek breek, that sounded a counterpoint to the lullabies I sang when I nursed her or soothed her back to sleep when she was teething or had a bad dream. It was there I comforted our four year old son when he had skinned a knee running around being superman or was finally sleepy enough to sit still and cuddle.
My husband found his own rocker when we arrived at the Church Camp Doug ran as part of his job at First Presbyterian Church in Buffalo. It looked remarkably like Grammie’s rocker, though the back was taller, and had it’s own comforting voice. When Doug left First Church so he could take on a new pastorate in East Syracuse, the Camp Committee presented him the rocker which lived in his office for 28 years. Doug sat there rocking as he met with couples about to marry, comforted the ill and grieving, provided family therapy, talked to rebellions teens, read in preparation for sermons, and planned programs. His rocker has more miles than all of mine put together…even with Grammie’s now here in my living room, given to me by my cousins.
My grandkids have also rocked with me and with my husband as we read to them and told stories together. One of my all time favorite pictures of “Boppa” is of him reading Good Night Moon to the twins as they rocked with him in his “big” chair in East Syracuse.
Our house also holds a child sized rocking chair and a rocking horse. That horse, well he was much more restless than the chair. He has traveled all over the house, powerfully driven forward by energetic little legs, rocking so hard and fast he gained forward momentum, propelled in pursuit of imaginary treasure or running from the bad guys …or dragged by his reins to new locations for adventure.
I don’t think there can be too much comfort in our lives. We need places to retreat to in order to lick our wounds or restore our souls. We require time to think and dream and plan. We need to hear lullabies and be sung to, even if the song is only the creaking of an old chair. Of course, there’s a but. We need that comfort and support, but then we have to leap up, move not to and fro, but forward. We cannot just rock in place chewing over the past, or stuck by fear, regret, or worry. Corrie Ten Boom is right that means going nowhere. Rocking is not meant to be a destination. It is a resting place…a place to prepare for our next adventure.
I have just left a rocking time. I needed it. Life dealt me several blows over this last year…but I am on the move again. Perhaps you have had those kind of times or are in the midst of one now. If so, I hope you embrace the rest and let yourself be comforted…and then come on with me…we have horses waiting…places to go…people to see…
It’s time for another leap into the future.