faith healing

Posted: April 2, 2013 in Observations and Commentary
Tags: , , , ,

Months have passed since that sadly familiar day when the news was final and the gates locked. Months of heartbreak, tears and bitter reality. Months filled with emotional torture and despair. These were hard months. They were, to tinker with Paine, times that tried men’s souls. Times that tried your soul. Just because a storm is expected does not lessen its fury. And this storm swamped you. Again.

Your pain was raw as the winter holidays began. Shoppers shopped, carolers caroled and sledders sled, but all you felt were cold winds slicing like a thousand razors. You knew the score, understood the prognosis. And flipping the calendar surely did not cure you. It simply added to winter’s gloom.

Throughout January’s dark days a foreboding hush descended on every room you entered. Friends approached with that tentative pity reserved for the terminal. They spoke softly and respectfully, offering awkward words of condolence and half-whispered hopes for the future. They tendered drinks to numb your pain, but that all too familiar anguish is not masked by alcohol because this condition, your condition, stretches across the simple barriers of time and place. Well-meaning folks smiled and told old jokes, all the while thanking the cosmos they were not suffering your crippling affliction. An affectionate hand on your shoulder intended compassion, but only underscored the truth. The inevitable realization that the circle remained unbroken settled like a murky fog.

As January faded you tried distancing yourself from the agony. (But it has always been there, hasn’t it?) The melting snow rejuvenated the earth and the earth strengthened your resilience until you tentatively thought that, perhaps, this thing can be beat after all. Despair may have circled with a certainty born of experience, but like a wounded warrior you shouldered the burden and pressed onward.

Weeks passed. Minor rallies. Pain inched from the surface, settling into that dangerous place under the skin. You thought, “If I can just hang on until spring…” One step at a time.

February disappeared and the bracing March air grabbed you. You could still feel; that was something. Despite all the expert opinions, despite all your focused research, despite the cautionary tales of those who fell before you, you renewed your vow to beat this thing, to put an end to this cursed cycle. Miracles occur every day. Diseases once though incurable are eradicated; ambitions once thought impossible are achieved. If man can send a machine to the outer reaches of the galaxy surely you can overcome this. Surely hope can pull you through. Optimism, that harbinger of all pain, snuck a peek.

Unlike some sicknesses, your condition is uncommonly common. Although no decent person would wish your fate upon someone else, knowing there are others – millions of others – in your situation keeps you sane and somehow sparks promise. So when the first green buds appeared on the maples and the oaks and the elms you experienced a tinge of hope, tangible as the smell of well-worn leather.

Friends were encouraged by your shift and nodded politely when you talked of the future. Their words offered comfort, but their eyes would not lie: “You’re my friend. I love you and I’ll always be here for you, but let’s be honest, you reap what you sow.”

Yes, you reap what you sow. Fiddle with matches, you will get burned. A hard lesson. But what is the point of life if not living it fully? This is your hand and that’s that. Play with it or move along.

Suddenly, April dawns and you rise to a glorious spring morning. Birds sing in the trees. Your heart beats strong; your color has returned. You make plans – plans for summer, plans for autumn. You survived the worst of winter and now you know, you know you will be here come autumn. You know when those crisp days of October return, when children are in school tormenting teachers, when the maples and oaks and elms hint at the pending burst of colors, when the oppressive summer heat has faded away, when all the expert predictions and second opinions no longer matter, you will be here. And on that magnificent day you will look to the east and let the redemptive lake breeze cleanse you. Every surge of wind will carry the joyous weeping of the ghosts inhabiting this magnificent palace. They will be weeping for what they missed and for what you are about to witness. They will be weeping because you will not be doomed to their eternal darkness. Then the music will swell, a cheer will rise and 35,000 of your closest friends will stand as one. Grown men will clutch their sons and grandmothers will cry “Hallelujah” as tears stream down their beautiful faces. They said it could not happen, they said it would take a miracle. Well, welcome to the miracle! You and your brethren instantly healed! And in that redemptive moment everything will change. Faith will get rewarded. You will reap what you sowed. Secrets more than a century buried will suddenly crystallize as you soak in the rainbow of colors covering the ancient wall and a deep familiar voice, smothered in honey, will proudly announce to the world, “Welcome to friendly confines of Wrigley Field. And welcome to the World Series!”

  1. sparklebumps says:

    Oh my gosh, I thought a close family member had died, and that would have explained your terrible and depressing absence, but now that I know you were just hunched in a corner bawling about baseball, I’m really mad at you! Where have you been?!
    i’m glad you’re not dead….


  2. bronxboy55 says:

    I no longer root for any team, but these past few years I’ve been quietly hoping the Cubs would make it. They and the city have suffered long enough.

    Great writing, John. You had me all the way to the last paragraph.


  3. At first I thought this was going to be about someone with a terminal disease. I’ve read a few of those today. About three quarters of the way through I started to get an inkling where this thing was going. You sure described the torture and pain of living through the long cold Chicago winter very accurately. It wasn’t over the top, nope, not at all.
    I’m happy to proclaim that I’m not a Cubs fan, nor will I ever be a Cubs fan, though many of my friends are. You might as well wear a hair shirt or self flagellate. I feel their pain and yet can’t help but think they’re a little masochistic.


  4. Pfft…baseball? This is about baseball??!!! WELL DONE, John…I should have known….


  5. Ha! I had no idea this was about baseball until the last paragraph! And it was so beautifully written. You have such a magnificent way with words, John.


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