I haven’t had a chance to write much in a while, which is sad because there is so much to tell. It has been an astounding couple of weeks. I will try to explain the highlights and perhaps another time share some of the amazing little miracles I have experienced.
The most important news to share is that I completed my commitment to God by finally being Baptized. It was wonderful to finally make that last step of public commitment. I have jokingly told people that the devil put up a fight for me because the next morning I became very, very ill.
I was supposed to be spending my time with some schoolwork and packing to move into my new home. I have been waiting for many years and lived through incredible difficult times waiting for this move. It is a realization of 5 years of patience for a decent home and I was excited to have a new beginning finally.
Instead I contracted a pretty bad respiratory infection that turned into pneumonia. Friends packed and moved for me while I hacked away feverishly shivering in bed. By Sunday I was slowly mended and had invited friends and family over to see my cluttered new place. I young girl from church came to help me prepare the meal and we shared a wonderful afternoon of laughter, conversation and terrific food. I was content and at peace for the first time in a very long time.
I was also exhausted. By 8 o’clock that night everyone was gone and I crawled into bed only to find I was having extreme difficulty breathing. The illness had returned with a vengeance leaving me wheezing and gasping for breath. Meg, my caregiver, stopped into check on me and determined I needed to go to the hospital. She was on her way to work and wouldn’t be able to stay with me so she called my pastor, Darrell, and he took me to the hospital and waited with me while the Drs. poked and prodded.
My oxygen levels were in the low 80’s when I arrived and I sounded like there were tons of people surrounding me shredding newspapers by hand every time I took a breath. There wasn’t much pain unless I began coughing so overall I have had worse experiences but the dizziness and weakness were a little foreign for me.
This was a new physical failure I had yet to experience for myself and I was beginning a strange learning curve. With all my other physical limitations I have learned where my limits are. I didn’t have a clue with this one. I had no frame of reference to build on and consequently I waited too long to get help and it advanced rapidly.
It was odd for me in many ways, but the most unusual was the lack of pain. I had always used pain as my barometer and this condition is not painful per say just uncomfortable and I was curious. I was never really scared. I idea of death doesn’t scare me but pain does and this was not painful so in a way I was fascinated. I determined if and how much help I required based on my level of pain. So, what do I do when pain is not a part of the equation I wondered?
This ignorance about my physical condition created an experience for me I wanted to share with you.
I’ve seen this condition in others. I recognized the symptoms. There came a point that I knew something was happening to my body I just didn’t know what it was. I remember telling Darrell something was wrong and then things started going odd from that point. I could hear the voices. Darrell was speaking to me and the nurses were calling my name but I was unable to respond. I could feel my body jerking in an effort to move but I was not able make anything function.
I couldn’t see a thing and that frightened me. I was completely incapable of opening my eyes or speaking or even moving in more than twitching movements. I became angry and started yelling at myself “Open your eyes, you’re fine.”
I kept wondering if it was real because I felt fine. I wasn’t in pain so it couldn’t be anything serious I must have just been overly dramatic. I was so mad at myself and began fighting. I can’t say who or what I was fighting with, myself I assumed but anger was overcoming me. There was nothing wrong with me so I needed to stop being a wimp and open my eyes and speak to the people in the room but for some reason was totally incapable of doing anything so simple.
I was aware that Darrell had risen from his chair and had come to my side. I knew he was speaking but I did not hear his words, however I was conscious of them. I kept hearing the nurse call my name and asking me something but the only word I recognized was my name. Then I felt Darrell place his hand on my shoulder.
I had an immediate reaction to Darrell’s touch. It was like watching a movie when suddenly the camera zooms in to focus on something small and minute like a flower in the middle of a battlefield running amok with mass chaos. Nothing mattered but that touch. Every bit of focus I had was on that touch. All of the anger and frustration quickly began to dissipate. The confusion lifted and some clarity returned. In that touch, all the negative was overwhelmed by a sense of warmth and comfort.
I was in awe of how gentle that touch was. It generated a warmth, not heat, but warmth. A comforting warmth, like the welcoming sensation of climbing into a warm bed on a cold night. It encompassed me and drew every iota of my attention away from the skirmish of my emotions. I basked in that sensation. Once Darrell removed his hand my eyes once again obeyed me and slowly opened. I was able to make my body respond again to my mental requests. Physically I had returned from a place I had never been before. I never even knew it existed.
I don’t know what this experience was. Darrell said he thought I had passed out. I may have. I have no frame of reference. I don’t believe I have ever passed out before so it very well may have been the case. But what was odd was that I was aware during the entire episode just incapable of response.
The next day Darrell came to visit me at the hospital. I told him about this experience. He told me he remembered what had happened and that it was his touch I had felt. As he prayed for me he laid his hand on my shoulder. I had felt the touch of the nurses but they didn’t really register. In Darrell’s touch it was an immediate and totally encompassing awareness of warmth and gentleness. Nothing else mattered. It was God’s touch I felt through Darrell hand. I have no doubt.
I think I finally understand the phrase lying on of hands. There is a power in the human touch that when combined with the peace of God’s presence creates awe in everyone that is a party to that alliance. I remember complaining to God in a moment of despair this last week when I felt so ill and alone. I told him that I now knew He was always there but there were times when I wished he could send a human counterpart. I have discovered that we, (people) are at our most divine when we are in tune with God’s will. I never doubted that God was beside me. But the sensation of that touch was a physical manifestation that confirmed He was in the room.
There were selfish times since that moment when I hoped that my illness would take me. I have felt the comfort of His presence and long to return. It appears that is not his will, so I will patiently wait until it is my turn. Until that time I guess I must find why he wants me here and what he wants me to do. But I believe the first thing He wants me to do is share how God touched me. Unfortunately I am inadequate and know of no words that can explain that feeling of warmth and serenity other than to say, it is worth everything.