Downbeat

Whistler | The Cobbler

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.”
— Acts 17:28

I didn’t talk about my sickness for a long time because it’s so abstract, unclear and unpredictable — people can’t imagine it. My health is still up in the air. Sickness is the most downbeat name since downbeat, but sickness taught me something about settling. I got more of God and he got more of me.

Two things that were clear on the MRI report were that I had severe demyelinating disease in the brain and spinal cord, and I had myelopathy, which is compression of the vertebrae on the spinal cord. Over the course of a year, the compression on my cervical spine became so disabling that my life came to a gradual stop, like gravity increased a hundredfold; gravity holding me to the bed.

I woke up on the edge of myself,
faced with the fear of being limited and insignificant. The most maddening part was being trapped inside my own head, in a room with no doors or windows, and just a tiny speaker of sound driving me up the walls; the sheer volume of suffering and lamenting my descent, like John the Baptist or like Jesus.
Sickness is where I gained sight of my suffering Lord.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
— Isaiah 53:4

When I woke up after surgery,
I was surprised by what I first saw. Outside my surgical suite window hung a rope straight out of heaven, straight out from this brilliant circle of light, capturing the importance of having things stay together and secure. Or did the dangling rope symbolize letting go? Both I believe. Jesus was holding me close all along, and if it was freedom from disease that I prayed for, I must give it all to God.

§tacy §weeney