In Which the Dragon Follows Me With Relentless Cruelty  

Posted by Heidi in

see Here There Be Dragons in the sidebar for parts one and two

You and your spouse take your children by the hands and run from the crumbling ruin of your house; run from your neighborhood, tossing dust and chickens and numerous small children to and fro in your wake, until you have passed through the gates of your village and into another. Madly, you flee from the truth but the dragon follows you everywhere. It’s as if you and yours are in its blood and vice versa. It smells you, a scent it knows as well as the stench of the scales enrobing its hoary skin--you have no hope of outsmarting it. Yet, it’s a truth you cannot swallow; it is too large and bitter and becomes lodged in your throat, denying you much needed air for your overworked lungs. And still you run, your emotions a raw mixture of fear, hope, anger and despair.

Your eldest child is the first to bear the brunt of the dragon’s fiery maw as it chases you down and roars its disapproval. Your son, through no fault of his own, is a bit slower than the rest of you, slower to move, to understand, to react—and quickest to be burned. He is also less able to cope with his wounds than one ought to be and your flight into Who Knows Where takes on a new focus: finding help for your near-mortally wounded firstborn. Very little time goes by before the next victim is burned, nearly as badly as the first--your spouse--the one who always brings up the rear and does all he/she can to protect the rest of you.

Numb with need, you run from one place to the next. Time and time again, hope envelopes you as you settle into a new environment. But the dragon lands once again on your roof, usually sooner than later, and you are forced to start over; to head out to find a new home b/c yours is once again in a smoldering heap, to barter to replace the charred remains of your clothing, to trade everything you have for a cart to carry the ones too wounded to walk.

In spite of the hardships, you are grateful for every place you’ve been, each mountain you have climbed, each person whom you have met in your travels. You have learned something from everything and all of it is useful in your quest. There are even some who are willing to brave the heat of the dragon's roar once or twice in order to give you succor. You will always treasure those people in your heart. But there comes a point when each of them stops coming back and plenty who would never consider approaching the House with the Dreaded Roof Dragon to begin with.

Once again on the move, you look at your beloved spouse and children, see the wounds dressed up with bandages, take in the pervasive odor of burn ointment, and finally know that you will never be rid of the dragon. Instead, as you trudge along, you wonder where you can go where there are people who can tolerate the destructive beast. A place where you do not overhear judgmental remarks made about you in the market place, such as: “They would have more means if they would simply settle down in one place.” and “They are mad to run so far and so long when crops need time to grow and mature.” Or “Why do they continually set their house on fire? Have they no common sense?”

Overwhelmed, you do your best to absorb the pain as, gasping for air, the cold, sharp steel of their words slithers into your heart. Surely people know you are better, smarter, wiser, more valiant than that? Surely they know that a roof dragon is almost one hundred percent unassailable and that God intended for us to have the kindness of one another in times of need?

And that’s when you realize the truth: they can’t credit the danger you face, the depth of your challenge, the quagmire of your need, because, to everyone but you, your dragon is quite simply . . . invisible.
(Thanks for the comments and emails--but I'm fine. This is a story decades in the making and I'm still ten years away from now in my story. But thanks! It means a lot!) (But, hey, as long as you're here, be sure to check out the post just previous to this one where I review The Road Show by Braden Bell. And then check out Braden's blog. He's going to be big.)

This entry was posted on Monday, June 7, 2010 at Monday, June 07, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

19 wise, witty and wonderful comments

It's too bad people don't understand the dragon. I've been known to run away from a dragon or two instead of learning to deal with them. Plus I hate the pain it brings. The only think to do is endure.

You're the best Heidi! I love to turn to you when things here are not the brightest. I wish you the best with your dragons. =)

June 8, 2010 at 5:44 PM

I wish everyone in the world could read this. Could feel so powerfully what it is to have a roof dragon like yours. We would all be kinder and gentler for it. Love you.

June 8, 2010 at 5:47 PM

I think that facing our dragons make us stronger and better people.

Oh, and I FINALLY had my speaking thing! The post is up. Thanks for checking up on me!

June 8, 2010 at 6:02 PM

Using a metaphor is sometimes so much more powerful than giving a narrative. You tell a strong story here that demonstrates both your struggles and your love for each other.

You guys are so cool!

Big hugs.

June 8, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Your last point hit me hard. The invisible dragons. I guess some of them are visible, but most of them aren't, and we need to stop with the judging of people because everyone has some sort of dragon.

I've really loved this little series of yours, and can't wait for the next installment. I hope that doesn't sound callous, but you've drawn me in.

June 8, 2010 at 7:11 PM

While I appreciate all the above comments and realize that there is a lot of pain--along with love-- in this story, I have to confess that when I got to the part about you
"throwing up dust and chickens and numerous small children in your wake"
I was seriously concerned about your family's diet!

June 8, 2010 at 8:24 PM

While a dragon does help you become a better person in the end - burns take a long time to heal...Maybe that's why resulting lessons learned are so long lasting though?

I have to say this is a chilling read for me on a very basic level. I always have anxiety about apocolyptic natural disasters or danger of any kind now that I have three children. You want to pick everyone up and run - but it's not physically possible. Makes me feel very helpless.

June 8, 2010 at 9:51 PM

I'm loving reading these... really.

I want to come and spear a dragon or two, if only it weren't invisible! (glad to hear you're doing well though!)

June 8, 2010 at 10:21 PM

Here's hoping we can see those dragons that other people face---not berate them for it.

June 9, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Barbaloot's comment was poignant. We many times are NOT ABLE to see the suffering of others...not the whole of it...and we MUST do as Christ would and be there for each other without the judgments.
so much of your story really hit a nerve with me.
My dragon is myself alot of the time.
I try to run away from ME....but I follow myself everywhere. People judge ME cause they don't see Me.

I am not a writer. There are days when we feel like there isn't enought "ointment" for the wounds we feel. But I believe in a happy every after--where the dragon at some point is slain.

June 9, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Have you considered writing fantasy? Because I was REALLY right there running with you. This is so vividly portrayed and well written.

I'm glad you are still at a previous phase of your life in this story, but I know the dragons continue to follow you. Still, reading this helps me realize why you are such a great and caring person.

I love the ending. So true.

June 10, 2010 at 12:44 AM

I think dragons are only invisible to those who have never dealt with those particular dragons. At the same time they have dragons who are invisible to us... I agree so much with the above comments. GREAT WRITING.. and we should never judge. Having my own person dragons to fight I take comfort in the knowledge that no matter what the future holds for me, I know who the story will eventually end... HAPPILY EVER AFTER - FOREVER! Hang in there - and thanks for the book review! - please know that someone in the arctic tundra of Minnesota thinks you are AWESOME!

June 10, 2010 at 5:26 PM

I'm glad I saw the footnote or I would have been extremely worried!

There is only one word to describe a roof dragon:


As in, "Darn, stupid dragon."

You are amazing, Heidi! I love your tale, but I wish the dragons would leave you alone!

June 10, 2010 at 8:36 PM

Yes. What Kimberly said. I wish everyone could read this and grow their understanding and sensitivity and empathy.

You are so brave.

June 11, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Facing dragons brings Goliath to mind, one of my favorite stories told to me as a child by my dad. It all felt so real, the sling, the stones, the unbelievable strength David had to take down a giant.

A strength I often forget I have.

June 11, 2010 at 7:58 PM

You are good, smart, and wise.

And this writing is powerful. Thank you for doing it.

June 11, 2010 at 9:56 PM

I'm thinking there is a colony of these roof dragons. I'm also thinking that my roof dragon sounds kind of similar to yours. I wonder if they're related? Love ya!

June 12, 2010 at 11:49 AM

Isn't life interesting? The dragons are only to be feared if we live without the possibility of Hope, and we have the Gospel and the Gospel gives us hope. And yet would we be drawn to it (the Gospel) without the need for hope. I would Hope so, but maybe not.

There is another that binds our wounds and his salve heals us forever, He is our great dragon-slayer, and He gives us courage and strength and Love and the possibility of a Happily ever after! I know that you know him personally because of your beautiful post and that makes the battles, every one, worth it.


June 22, 2010 at 8:22 AM

Love the story. I might just keep it around because sometimes I feel the same way.

Much love you!

June 30, 2010 at 5:20 PM

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