Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Comfort at the Door of Death

I must say, that it has been awhile since I posted.   A truckload of writing and creative necessities overwhelmed me with the starting of the Edinburgh project.   I still do not have a clear path, but I am working on it.  I do intend to continue with my series on the perfected marriage.  However, with a request at my door to write the story of 'comfort' in my life, I am diverting from that goal a little here to tell this story.  I hope it will bring a hope and warmth to your hearts.

 In April, 1971 I lay on the bed in my room staring vacantly at an overhead light bulb which was diminishing in size. I had been repeating this experience for several nights with an ever-increasing sense of fatality and hopelessness.  It had begun with a lethal, breath-sucking depression which swooped into my mind, soul and body after I had driven myself to the hospital where they performed a D&C to remove the dead 6 month fetus of my child, and then driven myself home again the next day. I had been convulsed in sobs as I walked down the stairs of the Catholic hospital, when a small priest came up the stairs and saw my despair.  He asked if he could do anything for me.  I replied; I don't think so, they just stole my baby.  He looked at me through very thick lenses with big compassionate eyes and said; The Lord gives and the Lord takes; blessed be the name of the Lord.

I was not a believer at that time and had spent 12 years running from God in search of some sophisticated, esoteric and elite enlightenment.  I was so sophisticated that I had married a man who repulsed me and for whom I had no love what-so-ever.  We were both students of the occult. Therefore, I could not process this priest's response to me.  Nor, could I dismiss it as a stupid platitude which was more akin to salt in a wound than a comfort.  Because, one thing pigeon-holed in my mind and drove me relentlessly to question his statement. That one thing was the fact that the priest believed this with all his heart-I could see this, even through those thick lenses.  I then asked and asked and asked of myself; is there a God to whom you could say 'the Lord takes, blessed be His name'?  If there was, I wanted to know this God.

The days following this incident were mired in a life-threatening shut down of my body and soul. Each time I lay on the bed, the overhead light became smaller and smaller-irising out the light in the room.  I knew that one night it would go completely out and I would live no more.  On this last night, the light had slowly irised out till it was only a pin prick - like a distant star.  I held my breath and listened to my heart and waited for death.  At that moment, the phone rang by the bed.  I don't know why I picked it up - very illogical for person who was preparing to die.  However, I did.  My sister was calling me from three states away.  She said; I don't know what I can say to you Kathleen, except that the Holy Spirit is a comforter.  I heard nothing else.  I was in such pain and loneliness and dark despair that the only word that mattered was 'comfort'.    I finished the short conversation and went looking for a Bible.  I managed to find one and began reading it.  I have no idea where I read or what.  But, this was clear.  As I read, the black oppression lifted from my soul and I could breathe again and think again.  I felt a huge warm presence wrap around me like a feather comforter and insulate me from the reality of my pain.

I read this Bible non-stop for two weeks.  I was never without this Bible. I read any 30 seconds of free time I had anywhere. It was like taking a drug.   Whenever I read, this suffocating depression would lift off my heart and mind, and breath would come into me.  The warm presence was always there.  After two weeks, I was so hungry to know if this God, to whom the priest had said 'blessed be His name', was real.  I knelt down on the bare wooden floor in the absolute darkness of my room alone and prayed; If you are really there God, I want to know you know my name.

I have no idea how long it was (3 minutes or 3 hours) that I sat absolutely still listening.  Then it came, the undeniable voice in my spirit which I will never forget:  "Kathleen, I love you".  I believed and He took me as His own.  I have never been without His comfort since.  Thank you, my Lord.