Monday, September 8, 2008

Postscript on Drowning

The day after publishing “Drowning,’ the passage below “just happened” to be my daily reading. I probably haven’t read the story in decades.

I’m not sure why I employ so much water imagery...a Freudian most likely would explain it using a lot of primeval birth symbolism. From earliest memory, I have loved water of all sources...creek, pond, river, lake, ocean. Growing up, I lived in a swimming pool during hot Georgia summers. Swimming has always made me feel free. I especially love it in ocean and lake...maybe the little thrill of fear of what lies beneath the surface makes it even more delicious. But sometimes things we love can turn on us; the good becomes dangerous. I think that’s why it is so important to be careful what we love. Swimming can become drowning in a swift second. A ripple rapidly turns into torrent.

A few years ago, I made up a short children’s fable which used the various manifestations of H2O as metaphor for the Trinity. The Father was crystalline ice, the Spirit appeared as steam, but the Son was water...beautiful, quenching, living water. (Sometimes simplistic explanations help me with metaphysical mysteries.) It is interesting that The Book begins and ends with water, and the theme streams its way through all the books in between. It is first mentioned in the second verse, Gen. 1:2: “...and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” It appears in the last chapter, Rev. 22: “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God.....Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life...”

Obviously, great significance is attached to the element of water. It may save us or destroy us...cleanse us or kill us. It is the vehicle of both baptism and The Flood. But God has dominion over all the waters from first to last, and uses them for his purposes.

I hope I will remember that the next time I’m drowning.


In the context of these musings, here's the celestial response to the last blog:

Jonah 2

Jonah's Prayer

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.

2 He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.

3 You hurled* me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.

4 I said, 'I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.'

5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.

7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 "Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD."

10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

(* We could spend hours debating God’s perfect will vs. God’s permissive will. Did God cause Katherine’s brain rupture, or did he allow it in the sense of natural laws operating in an imperfect world to which sickness and death are intrinsic? I choose to believe that it is the latter, and that He permits nothing to occur to his children which He cannot use for their ultimate good and for His greater purposes.)


...So here’s a little prayer from the belly of the whale, if anyone happens to be there now:

Father, forgive me from trying to run away from you, like Jonah. Protect me from myself. Forgive me for clinging to things...false life-preservers...that cause me to forfeit the grace you long to lavish on me. Remind me to thank and praise you for all things, in all things...even here in the belly of a whale. I thank you that I cannot save myself, so that I may more fully appreciate the great gift of your rescue. Thank you for stooping low enough to reach your hand down into the slimy pit of depression and self-pity and pull me out, setting me upon a Rock. I thank you that you always listen and answer...even in the midst of my rebellion. Enable me to make the sacrifice of a contrite heart to you, for you desire that much more than outward gestures of gratitude.

Command those things which imprison me in the depths to set me free. All creation trembles at the sound of your voice.

Help me to keep my promises to you, for even that I cannot do.

But your faithfulness endures forever.


ellenpaige said...

When Katherine writes her book, you should write one, too.

I'm continuing to pray for all of you daily as I ask God to heal your brave Katherine completely.

With love,
Ellen Jones
(brain aneurysm survivor)
Athens, Georgia

amberinanthem said...

I'm not sure how I found your blog but in so grateful I did. Your courage and hope in the face of adversity inspire me. YOu write beautifully and your words touch my heart. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers everyday.
God bless,

truth4nothing said...

I am loving God more today, respecting you my sister, thanking God for your willingness to share this journey. The book of Kim, near Esther.

Kristen said...

I am always encouraged when I come to your blog and hear what you and your family are learning. Thank you for writing even from the belly of the whale. Thank you for your hope and not giving up. And I agree with the other comments, you would write an amazing book.
(also a brain aneurysm survivor)

Julie said...

Mrs. Arnold,

I noticed your new picture on here of you and Katherine. She looks absolutely amazing. I was talking to my friend, with whom I've shared Katherine's story with, and we were saying how even with her half smile and eye patch in that picture, she looks better than we do on a good day! Katherine somehow "pulls off" those glasses and she still looks completely beautiful.

Thanks for all the updates and I will continue to pray!

Julie Kristin

tatiana said...

Mary's song.... "And Mary said: my soul glorifies the Lord & my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed," (Luke 1:46-48).... remember His greater purpose, the light of Christ will never let u drown. yesterday was the day of the Lady of Charity. for many people, her image is celebrated as the 1 who unites & makes miracles; provides guidance, strength & compassion; watches over them & dries their tears of pain. when my avm bled last year, while i was still in the hospital, my mom & sis' went 2 the annual service they hold in her honor (which thousands of people attend) & she prayed 2 her that this year, i would b able 2 go & i would b walking. well, i went & i stood up from my wheelchair & wept as they brought her statue in 4 all the thousands of people 2 c while we all sang songs of praise. i'm walking now, (albeit, w/ a walker/cane, but nevertheless, i'm walking....) through out the service, i thought of katherine & i prayed 4 her healing & strength 2 overcome all the obstacles in her path....
be blessed, my friends....

em gibson said...

like neosporin for the soul