I know what it’s like to be ground down until every want and desire sloughs off and all that remains is survival. I also know what it’s like to be ground down even further, until you break through that false floor of survival and find yourself in free fall. And I know what it’s like to have the open palm of God catch you so softly and lift you so slowly that you don’t even know you’ve been rescued. That’s why, friends, I now find rivers and roads to be inadequate metaphors for life and the passage of time. I prefer something more three-dimensional:
Think of a flight high above a great ocean with dark, chopping waves far, far below. And you travel over it in a basket hanging from the thin strings of helium balloons.
It’s not always as dark and terrifying as it sounds. The sunlight, when it shines, is brilliant, glinting on the churning white caps thousands of feet below. Distant thunderheads creep along the horizon, edged in orange and violet from the setting sun. The stars at night are so bright and so numerous you can hear the voices of their angels singing.
But sometimes your balloons pop, as balloons often do, rarely all at once, but sometimes in rapid succession, and you can feel the wind rushing harder and the dark, churning waves coming closer. You’re not alone, of course, and others nearby sometimes give you their extra balloons to lift you back up again, or at least keep you from falling further. Sometimes you sink low enough that the whitecaps slosh into your basket, soaking everything, blinding you, and suddenly there’s another basket next to yours, a rainbow-striped hot air balloon blotting out the sun, or a flock of small baskets with not many more balloons than yours, and together they tie your basket to theirs and lift you from the waves just before you sink. Continue reading