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.