Anchor on an embroidered background
Analysis, Criticism, Memories, Narrative, Observations, Reflection

Wrestling the Anchor: Adrift

[from “Strange Orbit”] “When my eyes opened, I was swimming in perfect silence. There was no sound of bubbles rushing over my ears or the distant rumble of outboard motors. No muted calls from birds above the surface or the low grating of water rushing over boulders … I swam through a translucent [ocean] of  [milky] red.”

Anchor on an embroidered backgroundStories are lenses. They speak to a sensibility of the Truth that creates channels for what is useful and healthy to us, more than to empirical facts that stand isolated. Stories serve the present — the man in Washington DC — at a cost to the past. I dove into my old blog (plugged my nose, put on my goggles) looking for “Strange Orbit”. I dropped some chunks of myself into that blog and promised to visit, though I rarely do. All which was adrift in me, then, has become a sunken wreck to me now…

[from “Send Revival”] “However, August 18th 2010 seems to have been a consecrated day from inception. Again, I want to stress who I have been. I have a gift of wisdom and knowledge, the sharp-edge of which is analysis and even skepticism. To be impressed with these phenomena, I have to be caught with my guard down … almost every morning I have awakened in this apartment since that first drab November day has been a chore … When I reached full consciousness today … I was dancing to “Go Go Go” by the Orange County Supertones, reminiscent of my days as a fifteen year-old … I knew right then that this day was going to be miraculous. You see, I also have the gift of miracles… it’s really hard to use with the gift of Wisdom because I’m skeptical. When I had begun to eat, I remembered that tonight was going to be the first Grand Rapids Christian Connect Worship Night. “Okay, God… you are definitely cross-referencing: I am made to worship. Let’s go…”‘

Even when I rehearse my story in mirrors for my own sake, naked, I prefer to start with “–and the Israeli guards detained me for an hour!“, bypassing that I landed in Tel Aviv with a history clinging to my chest. I wanted to over-write two years of ostensible waste. In People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks’ Viennese doctor sends a man with syphilis to a ‘malaria clinic’ because the parasite induces a fever that can eradicate bacterial infections — if the malaria itself doesn’t kill the patient. To explain the anchor, I believe I need to hint at ‘the syphilis’ so readers can understand why I would work in the fever of a conflict zone: Palestine. That is one way of telling this story. Another is a tale of supernatural nudges, of watchful hawks and tingles in my spine — of visionary impressions:

[from “Send Revial”] “For those of you who do not know, God likes to visit me in the form of hawks (if I had a ‘Spirit Animal’, it would be a bird of prey). I know, in my mind, that red-tail hawks frequent highways as a source of carrion. Yet, they time themselves so well that I cannot help but believe that they are driven there by that metanatural Hand. I attached a cheesy lesson to it: “I guess this was a God-ordained detour—if only this entire Grand Rapids trip could be so blessed. If only my NEXT adventure were so blessed. Where am I going?” –but I wrestled free from that reverie.”

After the worship service, I went forward to have hands laid upon me by an appropriately named ‘prophet’…

“He told me if I was faithful in the small things, God would show me a big-thing. Elijah said that God would “blow my mind.”… Instinctively, Elijah moved his hand off of my shoulder and onto my head … He started to pray about my doubts and skepticism—prayed for my sub-conscious mind to be healed. The exact words escape me because I cannot get past … the feeling of the Holy Spirit surging up my spine and literally touching my brain. The experience of joy during worship—that could have been emotional contagion. The tingling in my shoulder? Contact from another. But the sparks in my brain, the uncanny perceptions of my prayer partner, the prophesy about taking care of small things… that was a God thing. I had come believing in a God thing, doubted when the service seemed to long, and then found God again. I could have walked-out. Instead, I allowed that feeling to wash over me… to accept that everything that had happened this evening was just as God intended from Hawk to hand-on-shoulder.”

Skimming over the hundreds and hundreds of words (holy shit!) in “Send Revival”, I see a mind embracing digression; at times, writers craft to process. I hurried to dispatch my failures with hypergraphia and constructed the scaffolds of a familiar  capital-C-Christian worldview. Writers process but fail to craft stories, at times. Grand Rapids was steeped in a self-referential conflation of political and religious conservatism; this was a place that elected Justin Amash to congress but scarcely knew his origins. Simultaneously, I plunged into angry day-dreams about work and family, escaping into illicit videos by night. My life was in twain: The Dragon was nascent. Yet in the midst of that, my encounter with Elijah remains at face-value — ‘tingles’ too. His message speaks to the present: “Take care of the small things; something big is coming, something mind-blowing…”

But forget all of that, for now. ‘Revival’ is not in the formula. The distinction between decay and ferment rots and yields a distillation. I said to my grandmother on her 80th birthday, “I’m keeping too close of company with death, Grams — Aunt Martha is probably next; the tumor is inoperable…”  She replied with reassurances that I would adjust. Hers was such a peaceful, Earthly comfort to contrast with fervent talk of Heaven; nothing need be obtained because everything I needed was already within, waiting to germinate. That was September 5th of 2010.

A week later…

[from “Strange Orbit”] In every direction I turned there was the same rusted crimson. I knew where I was, though I do not know quite how. Looking into the distance, I could just barely see her silhouette. She did not paddle. She soared ahead of me…

I pulled-up, knowing that the haze below me must be at least a mile thick… [w]ith a click of my heels, I triggered the tiny jets in my space-boots and ascended. I was much deeper into this cloud than I had imagined: the layers began to get thinner and thinner but I wondered if there ever would be a true surface. As my suit lifted out of the fog, I saw the outline before me doing the same, leaving a trail in her wake like a sky-liner. Behind her … Saturn came into focus. I noted how much brighter it seemed from this distance: …[figuratively], I think that Saturn was the Sun—if the Sun had a smoky, glass-globe … like the lamp in my bedroom. Suddenly, I breached the surface of the cloud ring like a humpback whale.

At this point, the silhouette of the lady I followed disappeared into Saturn’s buttery glow; she was always accelerating faster than I could close the distance between us…

In the next moment, panic ensued—now, I was on the edge, trying to rest on the surface without sinking back into obscurity. Instead, the momentum from my boots set me adrift: losing the surface and drifting into void.

At this point, I encountered my mortality. Saturn was indifferent. No stars shined in the distance; I drifted further into a dimension of endless black: I would die slowly in the nothingness of space…

Then, I turned around… It was a bed; a cross between the biggest king-size you can imagine, a set of 1960’s retro rockets and a magic carpet. I say so because it had a head-board and footboard, about eight blue flames emanating from its stern and an abundance of Middle-eastern designs. On this most mystical craft, my beloved sister Molly was lying in the arms of a woman. The woman appeared to be comforting my sister. She impressed me as the most maternal woman I had ever seen—she was breathtaking yet warm. I knew that she was one and the same with the figure I was chasing in the red-cloud …

I climbed onto the bed, suddenly … in my pajamas. I crawled toward my sister and rested with her—cuddling her like I never could in real-life. I thought “Now I don’t have to be alone any more… we don’t have to be alone…”

…[the woman] was God. God is our Mother~ every good characteristic of motherhood ought to be something that God has … the God portrayed in the Old Testament does not always seem so maternal. I think (these are my personal feelings, not a Biblical argument) that they got Her all wrong… that She/He has to be more like the image Jesus conjured just before he entered Jerusalem to be arrested:

“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How I long to gather you under me like a mother hen gathers her chicks…”.

I needed to be plucked from outer space, like a lost sheep/coin/son… but didn’t know why yet…

I awoke with a profound sense of being loved. That was my first and only vision. The vividness of that dream was so great that I both knew it was a dream and believed that it was real. Yet I chose to keep believing that because I recognized my psychological health improved. Mother God emerged from the blackness within but was one with the silhouette I lost in the The Light. Everything I needed, what I truly needed, came unbidden to rescue me.

Later that day, at 4PM, Molly telephoned. Between sobs, she explained that our grandmother had died.

To be continued…

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