Faint Within Me

Earlier this year Isaiah nearly died.  Nearly drowned, that is.  His brother saw him on the bottom of the pool and he was pulled out by an hysterical Jason, who was screaming for help even before they reached the surface.  A still-unknown-to-us woman who was sitting in the bleachers raced down and started CPR.  It was six rounds before he finally took a breath.

We spent the night in the Harborview ICU and then, mysteriously, wondrously, he was declared “out of the woods” and allowed to return home.  It all happened so quickly that we find ourselves, all four of us, still processing it now all these months later.

I keep thinking that I should feel only relief.  Wonder.  Gratitude.  And I do.  Of course I do.  Our boy, nearly dead, restored to us.  How could I feel anything but profound joy?   But the reality is that I also have felt a powerful fear since that day; pressing and plaintive, spidering its way in and through me.  Because I stepped to the edge of the abyss and peered over and saw all that is dark and horrifying.

While I know, intellectually, that the world continues to make positive strides (world literacy and education rates are up, extreme poverty and 0-5 mortality is down, for instance) and believe in that moral arc of the universe bending toward justice, lately the scales seem tipped the other way.

A friend losing her 9-year-old to cancer last week.  A man who has said some of the most hurtful, horrible things I think I have ever heard from anyone might become our next President.  And if he doesn’t some of his supporters are talking about “taking up arms,” whatever that might mean.  Yet another Black man was shot by the police yesterday.  A young college student, by all accounts a woman of valor and a fighter for justice, died in a car accident just this morning on her way back from Standing Rock, where the Sioux people are protesting the pipeline that threatens their water supply and their sacred lands.   My dad is sick.

Going to church, which has often been a balm in such times, has not been so this year.  Sunday services for me usually require, to varying degrees, a “willful suspension of disbelief” and lately the level of suspension seems to be on the rise and I wonder at times why I am there at all.   On this, the first day of daylight savings time, which means the sun set here in Seattle at 4:43pm, I sit in both literal and figurative darkness and say with the psalmist:

My spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed…

 I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, Lordmy spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:4, 6-8