“Why seek ye the living among the dead?” — Luke 24
Beginning on October 13th of 2011 I spent eleven days among the dead and then was returned to life. Why and for what I still cannot say. What I can say is that, in some brief and infinitesimal way, I have had a small shimmer of the Resurrection shine upon my dead shadow and raise me back into the light. It was a tiny touch and yet it would seem that was all it took. This time. Next time I have no doubt it will require divine intervention. Perhaps it did this time. I have no way of knowing.
Nor can I say that I know what it “was like” to be dead because of my death I have neither shred of memory nor the slightest sense of a blank space between one moment of life and the next moment of life. My mind holds only two moments; the one melded against the other like some trick of Japanese joinery.
In the first moment, I am standing on the front porch of my house looking across the road at the playground on the afternoon of October 13, 2011. There is the impression of small children running about in bright clothing. The sky is clear and there is sunlight from overhead. Shadows are small pools moving beneath the children. It is in the high 50s neither warm nor cold.
In the second moment, I am cold. I am lying in a bed covered with only a sheet. I am looking past my feet in a room ringed with drapes hanging on rails from a ceiling. At the foot of the bed, a man in a blue tunic is sitting in a pose similar to Rodin’s “The Thinker.” His arm is bare to the shoulder and he has a Maori tattoo on it. I think, for a moment, that someone is speaking to me from the side, something about being in a coma. Then I am gone again.
Those are the two moments.
One is right next to the other.
There is nothing in between.
Enjambed sans caesura.
I lose track of what happens next and come to know it is not an instant between memories but eleven days and that I have spent that time in a medically induced coma after spending some unspecified number of minutes dead. It was nothing so dramatic as a crucifixion. It was simply a ceasing to be of which I had no awareness. What followed, as dramatic as it was for those around me, was a blank to me; something available to my soul only via hearsay.
There were, it would seem, heroic measures involving tubes, machines, drugs, and methods of lowering the temperature of the human body and maintaining it there for some days. For some minutes I was, it would seem, dead and for some days after that I was, it would seem, as good as dead. I was kept cold and under the stone of coma. Then, after eleven days, that cold stone was rolled away and I was returned to life. It was, I suppose, a kind of cut-rate resurrection. Yet it was mine and I was, and am, glad to have had it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this world.
I’ve spent no small amount of time wondering what it is I am to do with this “resurrection.” It seems as if I should do something; something more than I was doing before, something that is somehow “better.”
I ask about this “purpose” in passing in the daylight and more formally in prayer, but I have to date received no answer, no voice out of the whirlwind or the burning bush. I don’t expect such although I would not be utterly unprepared if it happened. I’m used to the mysteries of the universe or the tricks of the monkey mind at this point.
Still, it would be nice to get a message neatly laid out, sent in from God’s great cosmic sign factory in the clear and in a crisp typeface. It would be nice but it is clearly asking too much. “Still not satisfied” is not a good attitude to have if one has been resurrected. As they say in meetings, “The attitude is gratitude.” I had that gratitude for a long time. It slipped away. Maybe I should try to get it back.
Or maybe I should not.
Maybe I should just drop all that and drop the searching for the BIG MESSAGE.
Maybe, just maybe, I should try to see again what we always forget: the Here and the Now of the Miracle.
Maybe, just maybe, on this day, I should strive always to recall that Christ is not just the Resurrection, but “the Resurrection and the Life.”
Today, resurrected, I sit here and look through my front window, across my porch, to the playground across the street:
“There is the impression of small children running about in bright clothing. The sky is clear and there is sunlight from overhead. Shadows are small pools moving beneath the children. It is in the high 50s neither warm nor cold.”
That was both then and [two/ three / four/ five / six / seven /eight years later] is now, and ever shall be.
There is “the Resurrection and the Life.” Of the two it is the latter that remains the larger miracle and His gift.
October 13, 2013
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