Pain, Trauma, and the Ocean of God

It’s been a rough week. I’ve had to do some medical investigation. Some of it has been painful, invasive, and traumatizing. Some of it has raised questions where I’ve needed to look at difficult decisions. I often entertain the idea of death. I don’t think I’m afraid of it. But then I realizine that no one is probably afraid of death. It’s the dying part that scares us. If God could just come quietly in and say “All right, child. I’m going to put out the light now. Just snuggle in,” I think that might, for me at least, be fairly easy to accept.

Almost three years ago I lost my right eye. It was trauma for sure, and the anaesthetic did, I believe, a lot of damage. Six month’s later I couldn’t walk a block. Had to send apologies and not attend my lovely son’s wedding. Six months later, still very ill, I quit eating altogether for two months. Though I wasn’t praying much at that time, I kind of said “God, heal me or kill me, okay?”

At the end of that two months I was taken to visit a Christian holy woman living in a cottage on the lake. She prayed intensely over me, and I swam. When I came back she gave me a little ice cream.

And from there we’ve never looked back. She took my hand and led me into Christian community, and while it’s been a complex relationship, it only gets better. It’s many years since I felt so well. I have hard days, still, and I am never quite able to distinguish physical from emotional issues, nor to tell when I’m dealing with a dark night of the soul, and when it’s just depression. But my body is stronger than I maybe can remember it being in the last five years. I have appetite and gusto and life has become a bright, clean, colourful living space. I don’t want to see that go, slip into illness, loss of joie de vivre, slipping into chronic illness and then . . . .

But while I was going through the hurting and scary part of the medical investigation I had a strong experience of being held. I lay down one afternoon and just let go and dropped, no fighting, just let it come. What I experienced was myself as a kind of scrim, a sigil or a hieroglyph written on dark water, written in white fire. The fire was intense, as were the pain and the trauma (the medical procedure woke old and difficult physical memories, old trauma) but below them was a vast darkness, kind of like ocean. Dark not as in evil or sinister, just dark as in other.

As I’ve been writing this blog I’ve been coming to understand that God is outside of my sensory range. That’s going to translate, for me, as darkness, as other, as non-phenomenal or something. I pray into a huge silence. To find Heaven among us we need to surrender to the What-Isn’t, into what is in the dark. Again, dark not as evil, but as not available to five-sensory perception. As I lay on that difficult afternoon I was aware of riding a great ocean of Love. I saw that things may indeed hurt, may finally hurt quite a lot, be written in letters of fire, but that always there’s something vast that bears us up even when we are lost in pain. It says “Of course it hurts. Never mind. I’m here.” It doesn’t, in my experience, lift away the pain. It kind of recontextualizes it.

Subsequent to that day I’ve had to look at the possibility for some fairly dire outcomes, and I’ve been comforted and held by what I felt and knew that afternoon.

Along the way, Christian friends have been praying hard for me, waiting with me while I waited for outcomes.

I may never in my life have wanted to live quite so much as I want it now.

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