Where The Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are shaped me and gave me a framework in which to understand grace. The book grabbed my heart as a boy and has not let go because, as an adult, I know that I need grace now more than ever.
When I was a boy I found Where the Wild Things Are. I used to check it out of our school’s library as often as possible. I would read it over and over again. I would examine the pictures and delight in the story of Max. Even though I never chased my dog with a fork or threatened to eat my Mom, I felt like I understood Max.
I admired him for his bravery. I wasn’t sure if I would get in a boat and set sail like he did. I respected him for being able to tame the wild things with the magic trick of staring into their eyes without blinking once. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do that. I was mesmerized by the three beautiful pages that made up the wild rumpus. I would make up a drum beat as I slowly turned the pages. “B-dum, b-dum, d-dum dum dum dumm,” I would hum as the wild things and Max swung from trees and danced in the dark.
I’m not sure if I was ever as wild or as brave or as exciting as Max, but I think a small part of me wanted to be. Yet I was certainly in trouble as a kid. There were many times that I was sent to my room. There were many nights I spent in fear of what I had done wrong, or frustrated by the tasks I left undone, the homework I lost, or the messes I had made. There were certainly times that I wished that my ceiling hung with vines, and hoped my walls would become the world all around.
I was Max. Hell, I am Max.
In many ways I am still that boy full of insecurities and doubt. I am a grown man now. I have a beautiful family. I have wonderful friends and a meaningful job that provides for all of my needs. Yet Max still resides in me. There are still times I want to put on my wolf suit and make mischief of one kind. And another.
I still make messes. I still leave things undone. I’m still frustrated by missed opportunities, hurt feelings, and lost homework. Like Max though, there is something waiting for me.
Max went on his great adventure. He tamed the wild things. He howled at the moon. He was king. Yet it wasn’t enough. It left him feeling empty and alone. The wild things could never love him. Life is more than a wild rumpus. Then from very far away, Max smelled good things to eat. So he went home. The wild things protested. It’s not easy to leave things behind, even if they’re destructive. But Max said, “No.”
So he gave up being king of the wild things and went home. Eventually, he made it back to his room.
To me, this is the story of Max. It is a story of grace. It is a story of redemption. It is a story of messing up, wandering away, burning bridges, and ultimately finding grace. It is a story of coming home and taking off the wolf suit to find supper waiting. This is why this is my story. This is why I am Max. I knew that no matter how far I wandered, no matter how wild I acted, that my supper would always be waiting for me.
Today, I am a father. I read to my daughters. I read to them about Green Eggs and Ham, about a llama in red pajamas, about a fancy girl named Nancy, about a curious monkey, and all sorts of wonderful things. We have adventures every night, but my favorite adventure is still the ones we take to Where the Wild Things Are. It’s funny though -- I haven’t bought the book.
I guess I’m hoping that they find it in their school library someday and discover for themselves about Max. I hope someday that their ceilings hang with vines. I hope someday they can get in a private boat, and sail off into the night to Where the Wild Things Are.
Above all, I pray they know that no matter how far they wander, no matter how long they’re gone, no matter how wild their rumpus might be, their supper will always be waiting for them.
And it will be hot.
~ Guest perspective by Robb McCoy reflecting on the recent death of Where The Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak.
More: God in our lives
Originally Posted: May 17, 2012