SILENCE. A tap dripping. A bath slipping in temperature; water’s cold; colder; colder than the bathroom air, though senses do not communicate. With silence, in submerged numbness, I lay there. Breathing, yet not alive. Seeing, yet semi-blind through torrential saline. Wanting to move, but unable to. Horrible thoughts invade. Swords pierce the mind. Knowing the need to move, yet not knowing how — or why. Not having the reason. Nothing happening cognitively. Time in freewheel. Not a caring care. Beyond comprehension, the pain. No desire. All efficaciousness gone. Only the discomfort of the water’s iciness arrests the dolour. Must move! Move!
I know I must move. And move I do. Out of sheer self-interest I move out of that Atlantic bath.
It was the darkest night.
I dressed myself in a blanket, without drying, head wet, on the pillow. Moonlit night. Strangest sight. No thought could I even conjure. Shivering, yet not caring. Shivering, wanting to feel safe. Shivering, yet an icy desiring. Far extremes of emotion, but without feeling. Great resolves for comfort… and self-harm… at the same time. A disintegrated integrity. An integrated brokenness. How can this be anything other than hell? Yet, so proudly there. “Nobody cares so neither do I.” Creating the muddiest murder in the mind, but it’s not spectacular enough. Then something shifts suddenly. The momentum cannot be stopped. Over the cusp into the abyss… what was dark is now darker still. On a whole new scale. But they say the night is darkest just before dawn. And though moonlit night, pitch black was my heart as God drew the curtains. Help!!
(Help always comes when we pray desperately enough.)
Blessed Delight? Could it be? Is it possible that the walls of the dam could be breaking; finally? A strength that was truly weakness breaks from there into a mind-bending series of yelps, a calamitous surrender; the worst of out-of-body experiences ushers a ‘therapy’ nobody volunteers to enter. But apparently God is in control. Apparently, the heaping, seeping, weeping was God’s plan. Sob, wail, moan. Pillow sodden through. Apparently I wouldn’t know until morning. I was so incapacitated in my spiritual fatigue I would have no recollection of any further moment until I woke early the next morning — to a beautiful day!
“What,” I said, “no sign, no encumbrance, no sadness left, O Lord?”
“Yes, my son, for though ‘weeping may last all night long, rejoicing comes in the morning’.” (Psalm 30:5)
And, yes, I had many of these experiences in that season of life. And blessed am I intermittently to enter such a darkest night, to experience the strangest sight, for blessed delight.
God always came to be Present. But only when I was ultimately gentle with myself.
One thing I learned in my darkest night,
Through the appearance of the strangest sight,
There, in my adherence, was God’s blessed delight.
I didn’t know how hard my soul would lament,
Yet I would grow simply in becoming content.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.
There are two purposes of an article like this: 1) To encourage broken hearts. 2) To tuck away for an unprecedented future.