I remember when the darkness left you. One moment its hand
was at your throat, the other covering your eyes. You were blind, gasping, suffering,
but mystified as to what was causing your turmoil. You blamed yourself, others,
circumstances. All the while darkness held its grip on you. But in one moment
the darkness was gone. I didn’t see it leave, but I knew instinctively it left
in a panic. Something had fought the darkness and won. Something
defeated it and there you stood, looking around like you’d never seen our
brilliant world before. Every color was new. Each breath was like the very
first; each sound, vibrant and alive, and comforting. You stood in the light a
long, long time. In fact, you are still there, looking around, delighted. It
makes me smile.
In the Star Trek universe, Kal-Toh is a game, a study, a chance to prove superior skill and Vulcan logic. It is a puzzle, a jumble of identical objects that deceptively appear to have no united purpose, an illusion of disorder. It's like the one day at a time journey that we play little by little each day, every day.
The players sit facing eachother while taking turns moving tiny metal bars from one place to another. There is a method to the madness, an imperceptible progression from messy shape to sudden and completed perfect form.
Sometimes all we can do is the next step. Then another step. And one more. And suddenly, though it has been building day upon day for a long time, we are done. After building consistently day by day, it is complete. Every thing had its place afterall. Every tiny metal piece belonged somewhere, each step mattered, and here we are.
A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?
I love this one. A blogfriend posted today about the assurance of the Lord and how He gives us peace in the midst of the storm. Her words brought these words to mind. They really say it all, don't they?
Did you think it would not get dark in the last days?
Do you think I will not come when you call?
Do you trust me?
Do you believe my promises, for good and not for harm?
Think about the times when you didn't know something until I told you.
I am telling you things now.
Can you hear me?
Will you hear me?
I hear you.
Rest assured, I hear you.
I will not leave you.
I will not forsake you.
I posted this a few years ago on another site called Gather.com. I thought it would be a good thing to share here. It's a true story. It happened to me.
The Suicide Spirit
I guess I was 9 when I first noticed a fog overtaking me. It was like I stepped out of the world. I could see you, but I couldn't feel you. I could hear you, but you weren't listening to me. Disassociation is what they call it now. They being people who think they can pull you out of it with enough sessions or a drug. I wanted to kill myself then and often in the years to follow. I would sit in my dark closet and smash my head against the wall behind me. I wonder what was in that part of my head, because it must be gone now. Maybe I would have given the world the cure for cancer. It is splattered in the closet of a house by a lake in eastern Michigan, if you want it.
I had many friends in my early teens. But my closest friend was death. It held me. It reminded me they didn't really love me. Always its dark arms were around me, waiting for my blood. But it was there and you weren't, so you take what you can get. At least I had arms around me.
I scarred myself with hate. You cannot imagine how much I despised me. Or, maybe right now you remember what it was like. Deep, pursuing destruction was in me and on top of me. If I died I would be free to roam with my friend, death, and live in his love. You could join us in defeat. It's warm there and we will put our arms around you too.
But it wasn't what it seemed. This is how I found out. You'll believe me, I think, but you won't know why.
I was sitting in a crowd, alone with many people. That's the most common feeling on our planet, isn't it? My eyes took them all in, as far as they would go. I was not a part of them. I couldn't be. I was something different. I didn't belong with them, though I longed to. I wanted to be loved. I wanted desperately to be seen. But I was utterly invisible. That day I would finally take my own life. I felt a bit of joy, which was foreign to me, with the decision. I was 15.
The man in the front was going on and on. He was irrelevant to me. A talker, not a doer. A man in a suit with stupid hair and arrogance so thick I could barely see him through it. On and on. Words that said crisply and clearly, "You don't count." Or so I thought.
Then the man stopped talking. He paused for a few moments and looked around the room seriously. He sighed and seemed genuinely concerned. When he spoke he changed my life.
"The Lord has told me someone in the congregation is contemplating suicide." He said.
I froze. I'd been seen!
"Who is it?" He asked. "Stand up."
I did not move. Come on, would you have stood up? But in my heart I was screaming, "Please! Please help me!"
Did God see me?
The man waited patiently. When no one stood up he said, "Well, God knows who you are. We're going to pray for you anyway."
With the booming church voice I hated so much and the goofy, big haired women swaying, those people prayed for God to break the power of the Spirit of Suicide. Hymnals scattered the floor, the crazy people spoke in tongues, all the people I was not a part of lifted me up and they did not even know who I was.
What I noticed first was the back of the metal chair I was holding onto so tightly. It was cold and hard. I could feel it. I hadn't felt anything in so long. I wanted to grab a hold of everything. I wanted to run outside and touch the trees. I wanted to scream and force the new air out of my lungs, the air I could feel for the first time in years. And I loved. I loved the woman with the tambourine behind me. I loved the stupid guy with the glasses in front of me. I loved you. And all these years later, 24 years to be exact, it has not stopped. I love you more than I hated me. I love you with abandon. I want you to feel and engage and love like this. I want you to be free.
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
On the last and greatest day of the festival,
Jesus stood and said in a loud voice,
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said,
rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
The black covering billowed as she prayed. A silent voice hidden in plain view. In public she was private. In private she prayed in her secret room. She raised her voice in her heart only, not brave enough or foolish enough to shout aloud. She was small, she thought. She was a whisper. No matter. Her prayer rang at the gates of Heaven and the ground shook beneath her feet.
Everywhere she stepped belonged to her, the dusty street between her door and the waiting car, the market stall, her children's school, the library, and the home of her dear, dark, disbelieving friend. She hoped her prayer would reach the seat of power. She hoped her world would open to the truth. The shadow had covered them for so long.
She had to see the answer. She had to know. She cried out with no sound, not even a breath, straight into the darkness where she knew the light had set up camp. And a hundred miles away, in the city center of a great world capital, the ground rumbled. It rattled with transformation, creating a ripple certain to undo many years of damage, to restore, renew and rebuild.
The earthquake spread out, gaining speed as it went. She didn't feel it at first, just went about her regular day cleaning pots and slicing carrots and folding clothes. Then in one sudden moment it arrived at her doorstep, because she had been heard.
You know when something profound shows up in an unexpected place? It abruptly leaps up and shouts, "I am everywhere you look!"
I've been watching Star Trek lately. People with plastic stuck to their faces. Warp speed. Technology even more impressive than this flat, square thing I am typing on. The stories of Star Trek take us far out into space and introduce us to alien worlds to tell us about ourselves.
My unexpected hero is the spotted, colorful alien Neelix on Star Trek Voyager. He's helpful and kind, usually trying to please everyone. We know a few harrowing details of his past, the war that claimed most of his world and left few survivors, his hope of reunion with his lost family in the afterlife. But there's more to Neelix than that.
For one thing, he's a funny looking guy with troll hair and a fiendish taylor. He's a character on a television show. Does anything good happen on television? Uh...
Neelix meets a man named Jetrel, the scientist who developed the weapon that destroyed Neelix's world. By the time he and Neelix cross paths, the man has come to his senses and lost his mind with guilt. He will do anything to bring back the people he killed. He is consumed with an invention that will reconstruct all that the original weapon destroyed, literally reassembling people out of thin air. However, he is simply unable to make it work. He can not undo the damage he caused. He can not bring anyone back. His grief is palpable. He doesn't have much time left. He is dying, from the same poison that killed his victims. He has also lost his family because of what he did. Now he is losing his life.
Jetrel is not entirely sympathetic. He blames others, saying he only made the weapon, others used it. He says he saved lives by ending the war. But he is a broken, desperate man, unable to redeem himself even with lies. He is rotting in the immense weight of his sins, trapped, held down, and now dying physically as well.
Neelix hates him. He has every right to. The man is guilty. Neelix is still suffering.
Neelix, goofy, underestimated Neelix, does something that startles, shocks, and restores me. Lovable, childlike, internally grieving Neelix solemnly enters sick bay to confront his ailing enemy. Will he finally unleash years of anger and loss on Jetrel? Maybe he will gloat in his enemy's painful death. But what Neelix does instead is subtle and sudden.
He says simply, "I forgive you."
Neelix forgives and, in the process, sets himself free and stuns his now dying adversary (and me). Jetrel passes away with an expression of astonishment and gratitude on his face.
Why did he do it? There is something innocent in the character of Neelix. He wants to fix, repair, and heal. We find out in this episode that Neelix has a strong sense of his own failings as well. He has a dignified humility, but it comes from knowing his own guilt. He longs to set people free, to heal. When Neelix forgave Jetrel he became better somehow. He was restored.
Jetrel is episode 15, season 1 of Star Trek Voyager
Sara Weaver is the young girl, now grown woman, who survived Ruby Ridge in August of 1992. For 10 days, her family was under siege in the mountains of Northern Idaho. Her brother and mother were killed by snipers, her mother while she was holding her youngest child in her arms. Sara's father and a family friend were wounded. They even shot and killed the Weaver's dog.
William Shatner interviewed her on his show Aftermath. Sara talks frankly about her feelings at the time. She had no idea who was attacking them and why. She had lost her younger brother, who was her best friend, and her Mom.
On the outside we heard the news stories of the Idaho compound surrounded by federal officers. We heard about the dangerous people hiding out at Ruby Ridge. Sara, meanwhile, heard the same officers calling out to her and her family, asking them to come out into the open. She was terrified.
What were the gunmen thinking? Probably each and every one of them feared for their lives. They thought they were confronting a subversive group. They thought they were doing the right thing. But as the siege ended and the investigation began, grave questions arose about the law enforcement branches involved, evidence, motives, and responsibility. Horrific is an understatement. Sara Weaver was just 16 years old and her whole life had changed in those 10 days...because of a mistake?
When she told William Shatner she had forgiven them, I thought he looked genuinely shocked. I was. Why? She had every reason not to forgive. But I could see the peace on her face and hear comfort in her voice. She was free. She said she forgives others because Jesus has forgiven her. That was hard to hear because Sara forgave something much worse than anything she could have ever done. Forgiveness is not an even scale.
I wonder if the gunman who killed her mother has heard her story.
Sometimes forgiveness is mistaken for approval or, worse, betrayal. But the very act of forgiveness is a pronouncement of guilt. You cannot forgive someone who is innocent.
I don't know that I've ever seen such an engaging or astonishing story about forgiveness. How did she do it? Sara Weaver said God gave her the capacity to forgive. That is the only explanation I have for it, whether someone forgives a small slight or a life-changing act. I think it takes something more than we have on our own. I think it's a gift.
Sara Weaver's story is on Aftermath, Season 1, Episode 5, Ruby Ridge.
I know an inordinate number of adoptive families. They just seem to be everywhere. I am so passionate and supportive of it, though I am having a hard time understanding why. I don't think we'll adopt.
But somehow this is a Thing in my heart. It just inspires me and, when I hear of someone doing it, I want to shout, "Woohoooo! Bring them home!" And to the adoptees, "You are not alone!"
So I started this blog (a decade behind the trend, as always) and have been thinking about why adoption moves me so. It occured to me that I feel adopted. The way my life is...I just feel brought in, rescued, given a place, a family. I feel like I am cheering for "my people" when someone is adopted.