Wondering while Wandering…
…an artist’s limp toward finding ‘Radiance Through the Rain’
‘May the Rain of Suffering Soften Our Hearts,
Seeping Radiance to Our Thirsty Places.’
J. Douglas Thompson© 2023
I’m being engulfed God, about to go under. The salt is deep in my throat. I’m gagging, frantic to find rock bottom! It’s almost too late, the rip tide too intense. I’ve screamed for your help endlessly but the roar has drowned my weakened cry. I’m closing my eyes, ready to sink under for the last time, given up last hope. One last gasp, Oh God, please, come, I need to be held. — Psalm 69:1-3 paraphrase JDT
It came, tsunami like!
Waves began their mad unrest as distant harbingers. They made me look up, questioning as I gazed headlands distant. I had seen heavy seas before but this had a different taste. The gull’s raucous call sounded a haunting. There were short respites as the rollers rested in momentary relief, but then they came, again, each more intense. Another respite and thinking all was well, a swim perhaps, and then the crash.
It came, a fearsome wall too large to fathom. My knees buckled and sent me shore bound, sand cement stuck. Immoveable, heart literally in my throat!
Pressure waves mounted while crushing vise-grips enveloped chest, pulling me tight under.
I was being overwhelmed as the tsunami laughed its grand profundity.
I needed rescue!
Yes, they came carrying initial care! With rapidity and young oar strength they entered in and carried me shore safe to where I was warm and dry. It was not over, however, as in the ‘rescue hut,’ I lay for several days. I was weekend ward trapped without a thought it seemed, waiting the reason why my tsunami had arrived in the first place. Nothing could be done until Monday I was informed. However, as I lay, the tsunami returned more than once with no assistance until my wife intervened and stirred the pot to get some action!
Tsunamis are caused by under sea earthquakes. Mine was the largest artery in the body the LAD, and it was blocked 99.7%. They call it ‘the widow maker.’ This artery carries 75% of the body’s blood back to the heart muscle, and things on that path were more than a little tight, causing my earthquake and tsunami, heart disease!
Finally after my wife’s intervention, it was recognized I needed to be moved to higher ground as an emergency (can you believe it, yes, even on weekends, hmmmm) and then, after deep insertions insight for the earthquake was observed and yes, resolved through a stent. I’ve always wanted a BMW, and this stent, laughably had that, its moniker. I made the joke wide-awake while the doc was trying to ‘park it.’
As I write this it has been 2.5 years since the epidode.
There could be several thoughts to chew on based on my experience. I think I’ll choose the obvious. I needed help! I needed rescue! In my own strength there was nothing. I was fully undone and vulnerable.
This, my existential physical crisis required external physical response. Often in life I have felt undone, unable to find footing, drowning either spiritually or emotionally, cement stuck in confusion as to ‘where is God when it hurts.’ I’ve groaned as I’m sure maybe some of you may have, ‘Where are you God?’ Do you exist, or is this just metaphysical fantasy?
In our journey from newborn infants leaning toward maturity often we find ourselves in the depths of quandary. We flail, screaming for rescue, feeling we are being sea-swallowed.
Even though pain seems to be unfair or unjust, I’m finding that it is often the tangled path to sovereign joy. Physically, without pain we would never know we had a problem…and as Yancey and Brand say, ‘The Gift Nobody Wants.’
My experience of His faithfulness is later, sometimes much later. Just when the dim light of dusk is fading, I often see His hand in those shadow-lands. With acceptance of mystery, I choose gratitude, and in that, I find a modicum of peace and joy, and again dip my brush into life and continue painting toward possibility.