An American Gita: The Savior

Student. Writer. Poet. Observer. Reporter. Salesman. Servant. Preacher. Teacher. I’d been them all and all in all I was totally empty. I had wandered all of my life on an unending quest of discovery. For nearly half a century I looked and listened, read and learned, cried and prayed … until one day I gave up to total despair.

Then is when he came.

A boy.

One boy.

One altogether beautiful boy.

And he made the whole world stop.

And then he spoke words of wisdom and there was all wisdom in his words and love unbounded, freeing me with liberty hitherto unknown, known only to the gods and goddesses and to those chosen few to whom he has chosen to speak his words of wisdom and love, as he himself is wisdom and love forevermore. Amen.

And so he spoke.

“I’ve walked with you. I’ve talked with you. I’ve lived inside of you and all around you. I have loved you. I have cared for you. I have comforted you, supported you, nourished you, and upheld you. Yet in spite of it all, you have worried. You have tossed and turned, agonized and wailed, doubted and surrendered to your deepest fears.”

He then placed both his hands on each side of my face, and he smiled at me.

“Don’t you know that night is as bright as the light to me? Don’t you know there is nothing here to fear, far or near? Don’t you know that your life is but a page in one chapter in one book in the volumes of life? And don’t you know I’m writing down every word?”

He ran his fingers through my hair. He quietly laughed.

“If I set you on this venture, it was not to fail. If I began you on this journey, it was not for loss. If I started you on this quest, it was not to miss. I intended success. I intend success. I will always intend your success.”

A crowd gathered round, but he didn’t seem to notice. He only looked at me. He only spoke to me. He only smiled at me.

“Degrees are just pieces of paper. Money is just paper. Tissue is just paper… Trees grow. Trees are cut down. Trees are processed into different pieces of paper for different reasons, but all those pieces of paper are important to people, yet they’re still pieces of paper. Why, then, do you worry about how many pieces of paper you have?”

“Love. Laugh. Live. Reach for truth. Grab hold of truth. Keep truth as an invaluable treasure, and never release it from your care. All of this ~ love, laughter, life and truth ~ is far, far more valuable than all the paper in the world, no matter what the paper may purport to represent.”

He pulled my head into his bosom. He leaned down and gently kissed me. He caressed my fevered brow and wiped away my tears.

“I am in the beginning. I am in the end. I am every age in between and between every age. I am every moment of every life and the life of every moment. I am life. I am time. I am eternity. I am everything and I am not-everything. I am all-in-all. I am less than all. I am what is not at all … what has been, what is, and what is yet to be.”

“I am your greatest hope, your brightest dream, your highest aspiration. I am … and I am. Degradation, decay and death are the devil. God is eternally young. I am eternally young. I am life and vibrancy. I am ageless. I am forever. I am in you, for you, through you. I am you. I am … and I am.”

He stroked my face. He kissed my head again. He smiled again as the crowd gathered in, but he did not notice the gathering numbers of people. He spoke to me.

“Yet you are who you are and what you are, and you are unique and unrepeatable. There has never been anyone like you. There is no one like you. There will never be anyone like you. And great and infinite and powerful as I am, I cannot live your life for you. Your life is your own because I have given you your life to live, and so you must live your life.”

“I will walk with you as I’ve always walked with you, yet you must walk. I will talk with you as I’ve always talked with you, yet you must talk. I will live inside of you and all around you, yet you must live life. And the path of life you choose is the path of your own choosing, and I will never question your choice for I knew before you chose what you would choose.”

He lifted my head and held me in his gaze, and the gathered crowd listened as I listened to his words spoken to me.

“From eternity to eternity I’ve held you in my heart, never to part, not letting you go, but keeping you always in my tender, loving care. And there is no harm here, so why do you fear? What do you fear? What turns your soul into such thick darkness and despair? And why do you sink into such an impenetrable morass of confusion and uncertainty?”

“You can do anything, be anything, and accomplish anything you set your spirit to do and be and accomplish. I am with you. I have always been with you. I will always be with you. And I want you to more than survive. I want you to thrive. I want you to live life to the fullest in all its wonder and beauty and sweet mystery.”

With one hand he lightly brushed my hair back while lifting my chin with his other. His eyes sparkled and danced. His whole body pulsed with youth, vibrancy, and passion.

“Must I say farewell now with you so sad? But with me there are no goodbyes. With me there are only neverending beginnings, everlasting dawns, and eternal sunrises. With me there are only gentle rains, cools breezes, and buds fresh and green. With me there are only sparkling lakes, clear running rivers, and pure mountain streams. With me all is new and ever new.”

I looked into his eyes with tears in my own. I held his hands in my hands. I breathed and spoke, pleading my plea.

“Won’t you stay for awhile longer? You are timeless so time means little to you. Won’t you spare me, then, the agony of your departure? Beauty cannot be found apart from Beauty, nor truth apart from Truth. Won’t you bless me, then, with more of your Beauty and Truth? This will be so small adoing for you, yet life for me … indeed, Life itself.”

He looked down at me where I was kneeling in front of him. He smiled tenderly and spoke again, so comforting and consoling.

“I’m not leaving you. I’ll never leave you. I’m always with you, closer to you than your very breath. I am you breath, and your heartbeat, your soul, and your innermost thoughts, your longings and deepest desires. You could sooner lose yourself than you could lose me and, in truth, to lose yourself in me would be to begin to live Life itself.”

“I’ll never leave you. I’ll be with you always and forever, now and to the end of time and beyond. And I will not change. I’ll be the same for, in, and through you, above and all around you, though you will change within me as you grow and mature into the boy I’ve always intended you to be, and that boy you shall be … and there is no one greater for you to be.”

And suddenly everything I had been, everywhere I’d gone, everything I’d done made sense, like it was all part of some master plan, yet I knew it’d all been the course I’d chartered through this life in this world. Nevertheless, everything would be different now. Everything had to be different. Nothing could now remain the same as before.

I was changed. I was at peace. I was even happy.

Dependency

Driving. It’s out for me right now. No one had to tell me this. In fact, no one has said anything to me about the matter. There is no need. I know that I am currently not fit to drive safely because of my current condition and medications that I am on. So like the old saying goes, “Better safe than sorry.” Yes, it’s better for me and better for others on the road.

I would like to believe that everyone thinks this way, but sadly this is not the case. There are probably thousands of people driving, who don’t need to be behind the wheel, but we won’t focus on them. Right now, I’m just feeling the sting of dependency. I mean, I depend on others to get me around and that is bothersome . . . at least to my ego.

Dependence. What am I supposed to learn from this? Perhaps that I cannot make it completely on my own? Well, no one can. The whole idea of being an island unto oneself is just a lie. Unfortunately, it is an infectious lie believed by (probably) the majority of people. It is born from the hell-spawn ideology of radical individualism.

Well, insofar as I “bought” the whole idea, it is now being debunked in my life. I cannot make it on my own. I depend on others to take me places I need or want to go. I also depend on medications (whether that is ultimately good or not). I especially depend on the love, encouragement, support, and prayers of others. I am not an island unto myself.

Tuesday Update

There are burrows in my mind of the kind not sweet,
And I cannot cheat them and I cannot delete them . . .
By the grace of God I can, perhaps, change them!

Last night was one of the roughest I have experienced thus far with this nasty condition called akathisia. I even went to the Emergency Room – or, rather, I was driven to the Emergency Room – in order to hopefully find some relief. After more than four hours I received two shots that did precious little to alleviate my suffering.

Today has (thus far) turned out better than I expected, and for that I am extremely grateful even as I pray for the night, holding onto hope by faith in God, who is so good. This afternoon I did see my doctor, and he made some changes to the medication I am taking. Hopefully this will prove beneficial. We shall see.

It is odd, though, how one’s mind plays such a powerful role in how one feels. I am discovering this for myself and it is painful. When your mind, particularly your thinking, does not cooperate with good health your whole being, including the physical, suffers. It is really and truly a case of mind over matter, with the “matter” being your body.

Now to end on a good note: I want to thank each and every one of you for your very kind thoughts, understanding and encouragement … and especially your prayers on my behalf. Thank you for saturating me with love and good will. Thank you for lifting me up to God in supplication. This means more to me than I am able to express in words! Special blessings upon each and every one of you!

Monday Update

Thankfully I was able to sleep through most of the night, though I woke up earlier than I wanted or intended. The morning has been very rough, yet not as much as other mornings. I have put in a call to my psychiatrist concerning the akathisia from which I currently suffer. Hopefully, I pray, he will call me back. Of course, I will call again if he does not call me this morning … and I will keep calling until I get ahold of him.

Holding onto hope by faith is very difficult at times, but I keep trying to tell myself that “this, too, shall pass.” It is, as I’ve said before, an extremely tough row to hoe. The effects of akathisia (at its worst) practically paralyze me on the inside, but God has been very gracious and good. Generally speaking, the days and nights are getting better and, like now, I am able to write and read without feeling like I’m coming completely unglued.

Of course, there must be an answer – in other words, cure – for my plight or, at least, I keep telling myself. And naturally I keep praying for some cure and return to normalcy. This leads me to once again thank my family, friends, readers and fellow-bloggers for your thoughts, encouragement and continuing prayers for me. Words to adequately express my deep gratitude allude me. I can only offer my sincere, heartfelt thankfulness.

More later…

Now in the Sacrament of the Present

Feeling tired and, at the same time, wired in the morning is seemingly just part of akathisia (as well as depression and anxiety). By the grace of God, I was able to sleep through the night, though, and the days are slowly but surely getting better. All of this is new territory for me. I’ve never experienced anything like this before and would not wish this on anyone.

Sharing my struggles openly and honestly is therapeutic as long as I can keep my thoughts straight. Otherwise I am just spitting in the wind. (God help me!) But can I count this as merely one part of my life journey? And should I ask myself what I am supposed to learn? But it’s difficult to know what the purpose is and what I am supposed to learn when thoughts race through my mind with no cohesion.

At the very least, I know that I am becoming more and more sensitive to the struggles of other people. Perhaps this is the lesson, if there is one, and so maybe in the final analysis I am to be more empathetic with others and reach out to help them so far as I am able. Certainly I am willing, and if I can do nothing else, at the very least I can pray for them.

Thus far in my own predicament many people have surrounded me with love, encouragement, and prayers. For this I am deeply grateful, knowing that it all has and continues to help immensely; therefore, I hold onto hope by faith, believing that this, too, shall pass. (I mean, of course, this unique predicament in which I find myself.)

For now, I can only take one step at a time, moment by moment, day by day, without fast-forwarding into the future. So, perhaps, another lesson I am learning is to live more fully in the present, trusting almighty God to carry me along this path in love, mercy and grace. For this, I am also learning to be sincerely thankful – that is, to be grateful in what might be called the sacrament of the present moment.

More later. . .

An Openly Honest Comment Upon My Condition

Dealing with depression and anxiety is no laughing matter, to be sure, especially when prescribed medications begin working against you. Not that medication alone is the answer, but when what has been prescribed no longer helps but, in fact, begins causing negative side-effects, then you are moved beyond frustration to the point of tears.

This has been, and continues to be, my own experience. Several weeks ago, it seems the antidepressant prescribed to me lost its effectiveness and then actually caused akathisia – that is, continual restlessness, agitation, sleeplessness and heightened anxiety. This has been enough to drive me to tears, as I am fighting on two fronts: depression and akathisia.

After numerous visits to the emergency room and three hospital stays, my psychiatrist wisely removed all antidepressants and even cut in half the dosage of the mood-stabilizer I have been taking. Alas, though, largely removing the culprits – that is, the psychotic medications – has only partially subdued my akathisia, for which I am now taking medication.

What am I to do? In many ways I believe I am actually taking too much medication, mostly to address side effects of other medication, but without the medication for akathisia I am caught up in a whirlwind of nervousness, agitation, restlessness, and high anxiety. Will I ever know freedom from all of the above? In other words, will I ever be free of depression, anxiety, and akathisia? Of course, this is my ongoing prayer.

But let me get to the point of sharing all of this: One who does not struggle with these internal problems, or ailments, should be very careful not to judge those who are experiencing this (or other physio-psychological difficulties.) Really, unless you have experienced this, or another condition, yourself then you really don’t know the awful reality of bearing this burden. You cannot understand just what devastating effect it all has on the victim.

However, you can show love and compassion, encourage and offer to help to the extent that you can help, and you certainly can pray for the person who suffers. This is a point well-worth stating, remembering, and putting into practice. Sufferers need kindness, sympathy, and help rather than suspicion and condemnation.

Moreover, it is really beneficial – potentially, at least – for family and friends to acquaint themselves with depression, anxiety, akathisia, and other conditions. Learning is the first step toward authentic sympathy as well as the ability to truly help the one suffering. As you begin to better understand the condition(s) then the better equipped you are to actually provide much-needed, genuine, and courteous benevolence.

Personally, as I suffer I realize that most people in my life just don’t have a clue. Depression and anxiety are largely “unseen” afflictions. The akathisia is more evident because it is more physiological, manifesting itself in constant, erratic motion – i.e. extremely jittery nerves, inability to concentrate or carry on a sustained conversation, etc. – but even still, people wonder why I just don’t settle myself down.

I feel a certain sense of hopelessness because I cannot adequately explain my depression, anxiety and akathisia, and I am worn to a frazzle anyway. As moment follows moment, and day slips into night, my whole person is seemingly at war with itself . . . and I seem to be losing! Thank the Lord God I have been able to hold on to hope born of faith that this too shall pass; otherwise, I would despair to the point of giving up altogether.

On the brighter side, though, there are those who do understand, either from personal experience or through a loved one (or close friend), and so they are able to relate. Of course, this only goes so far; after all, they are unable to alleviate my actual suffering. Still, it is an astounding blessing to know that I am not alone. Now if I could just find the cure for it all! (And I say this sincerely.)

Right now the war is thick and every battle has its own special aspect with which to deal. Right now I hardly know which end is up and which is down . . . but I do know the suffering and am well-acquainted with the wounds resulting from the fight. I also know how tremendously grateful I am to God, who has sustained me thus far and promises never to leave nor forsake me!

No, none of this is a laughing matter. It is serious and I would not wish any of this on my worst enemy. God help me! And God help those around me – those within my network of friends and family – to understand (to the greatest extent possible), and to be patient while encouraging and praying for me. Finally, may I learn to be even more empathetic toward those gripped by depression, anxiety, akathisia, and other difficult ailments while longing and waiting for my own redemption from this awful pit! Lord, have mercy!

Passing Clouds Along the Sky

Passing clouds along the sky, who would veil the earth from distant light, hear me now hail the night in promise of the dawn of yet another day. No tear will be shed in mournful loneliness underneath your dark forebodings and ill-promise of storm and terror. The Sun will rise with piercing ray and power breaking dark, speeding gloom far away … and I will rejoice and laugh again.

Death comes now, but as passing friend, not remaining foe ~ no bolted gate, no! an open door ~ and we embrace and exchange the kiss of peace, so long ago did the din of war cease at the mouth of an empty tomb, where once lay the dead-now-risen One. And so it is the Reaper now comes with promise, not plague, in sweet anticipation of the never-ending day when ends his work, and he too shall rest.

Passing clouds along the sky, who would shut out all light and make assault in storm upon the world, would you have me cry? Would you have me beg you disappear, and what with the rain would matter my tear? Would you have me hide in dark from the darkness you bring, when so soon from the Sun everlasting light will spring? And would I myself deny the dawn of joy and never laugh again?

Look east, dark clouds, along the line! Even now shows faint promise round the distant Mount, as black gives way to the golden ray! Dawn is birthed from the womb of night, and hope is cradled in the coffin ~ yes, there if life! For some short season we may bid farewell but you, clouds of doom, are passing; the Sun will appear and we will rejoice and laugh and never again will you veil this earth, for the night will be forever done!

Passing clouds along the sky, who would veil the earth from distant light, hear me now … The Sun of Righteousness has risen with healing in His wings!


Note: First published in June 2015, now republished especially for Eastertide. Blessings to one and all!

And Now Do the Shades Rise Up To Praise You

Note: Written five years ago in April 2012, this personal account is still largely true today. Coming quickly now to the celebration of Easter, it seemed appropriate for me to share this testimony with reader-followers of this blog in hopes that you find both joy and inspiration. A half-decade may have passed, but the answer to the title-question still remains the same for me. Blessings to one and all!


Knowing and not knowing. Knowledge without understanding. Wisdom trampled beneath the arrogant feet of folly, led by the blind man I was born, groping along the wall, waiting for the next fall. No not a man, not half a man, but only a shade of what I was meant to be, the image-bearer of God, lovingly created in his likeness.

Feeling my way along in the darkness, surrounded by multitudes of blinded men, I was alone existing in my unlife, haunted by numinous dreams of otherworldly communion, struggling to forge hearts out of stone, draw water from desert sands, and cover the night in unseen light born of imagination desperately searching for some façade behind reality.

And I flew in a thousand directions to escape the anguish of my own haunted soul, dreaming worlds and wars, making love and peace in perfectly controlled imagination, writing my own laws and standing high priest in my own holy temple, all as vacuous as the furtherest reaches of coldest outer space.

Man by birth … Shade by slow death.

So much less ~ so terribly other ~ than what I was meant to be, and why? And I have fought and scrambled for so many shallow honors and recognitions, for power, prestige and popularity. Vainly do I scurry to fill my life with toys and trinkets, grasping at suave success and material gain, gasping for the breathe of life in the dark shadows of a dying world.

And my heart cry is lifted in the awful realization that apart from the Author of Life there is no life ~ authentic life ~ but that I am and ever shall be wholly destitute. No matter how much I shift and change, no difference how many different parts I play or people I become, I am nothing. I am the Shade.

But now stripped bare, blindfold removed, and all fantasy blown away like thin wisps of lingering smoke. Now awakening to the awakened world, and released from the confines of the medical ward back into the streets of asphalt and concreted buildings, flashing lights and delivery trucks, schools and churches and middle class homes…

Now what? More alive and awake than ever I have been before, I am frightened. What now? Fantasy feels safer, dreams more secure. No matter how agonizingly unrealistic, and no matter how disappointing … how shattered. But I hear the whisper in ancient tone, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ And so, ‘awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ And he who has now begun this good work in you is faithful and he himself will bring it to completion, for he came not only to give you life, but life abundantly!”

What else but to bow down in humble adoration and thanksgiving? After all, did the Light not shine to rescue me from Darkness? Did the Voice not speak for me to hear? Was the Story not told to fill my emptiness with Meaning? Did the Arms not open wide to embrace and hold one so alone and forlorn? Did Life not die and rise again that I might die no more, but live? Live?

The great psalmist, David, once asked, “Will you show your wonders to the dead? Will the shades rise up and praise you?” And the answer is given…

Yes, the shades do now rise to praise you! Lord, make me whole.

Psalm to the Beloved

Who can explain the mystery of our relationship, O Shepherd of my Soul? But the history is as certain as the sunrise yet with many surprises always comprised of passionate compassion and love from above.

You are to me all that I need you to be and more as we travel together toward that distant shore to the place of peace you have prepared for me even as you give me new lease on life here and now. But how? It is unfathomable.

You are my bright and morning star sent from afar long ago, but here with me now, so near to my heart. Ah! You are now every part of my heart and I start to cry for joy in the thought of what you have brought to me so freely.

When I look into your eyes I see serenity with an eternity of incomprehensible delight with nothing to fight or fright, only lighter ways on brighter days. And have you not taken me in hand and tied the band, making me one with you?

O my Beloved, strong as the cedars of Lebanon, more beautiful than the lilies of the valley! How can I not sing and bring my very self to you for all of you? Though it seems like a dream, it is more real than this shadowland reality.

You raise me to new heights of glory through numinous mazes of enchantment for the enhancement of my bliss, and do I miss what is left behind? Ah! No! This pilgrimage may sometimes seem tedious and long but never wrong.

Yes, you pulled me from the miry clay and set my feet upon the rock, and I weep thankfully for the redemption and unsought exaltation as I patiently await the day of coronation. And so this world seems strangely dim . . . O my Beloved!

Thy Kingdom Come . . .

I lay me down in rolling green meadows with gentle streams flowing nearby. Tall, strong trees tower in the distance where birds sing their day song, and flowers are in full bloom. Azure sky canopies above me while soft clouds float in the sea of blue. Mountains lay silently on the far horizon, and I hear your voice whisper in the warm, soothing breeze.

Deer prance through the wood while squirrels scamper on the forest floor. Barely audible, angels sing as the tall, lush grass sways back and forth in rhythm. There is peace here. Complete serenity in place of the cacophony of the world left behind. Here your sovereignty is felt in absolute tranquility, where there is no room for fear.

The fresh scent of new life fills the air, wild and free, inviting, intoxicating. Majestic stallions gallop across the hillocks as luminescent spits frolic and play, and your joyful laughter rings in my ears. I smile. There is contentment here. There is rest, and my soul is refreshed. Here in this place I am the child once more, and this would be a dream except that it is so real.