It has been a strange week. Still in brain fog most of the time from the anesthesia of surgery, coupled with some fairly strong pain relievers, I found myself more physically still than I can ever remember.
Time for the life of the mind with reflective thought delights me, but my best thinking seems to take place when my physical body is in action — walking, gardening, doing routine, pedestrian but necessary tasks. Most of those activities had to be set down during the days of healing.
It was time to learn once more just to be, not do. In other words, to live as a human being, not a human doing.
The lingering effects of the meds made what I hoped to be extended writing hours nearly impossible. It was not a time to create, be productive or do any of my normal things. I could primarily sit and receive.
With the beautiful weather here, I spent many of those “being” and receiving hours on the front or back porch, reading, sitting, listening to the birds, picking aromatic roses and spending long minutes savoring their smells and textures.
And I read voluminously. Books, newspapers, stories, both real and imagined, of people’s lives, loves and losses.
News of politics, economics and world events bounced in and out of my mind. I became engrossed in a book called Escape From Camp 14, about a young man’s escape from a horrific prison camp in North Korea. Untold thousands of people are imprisoned there right now, routinely beaten, starved and tortured, and occasionally put in forced marriages for the purpose of breeding children to be brought up as slaves to produce necessary food and goods for that totalitarian regime. The young man portrayed in the book was one of those children.
Another engrossing book was one man’s story of growing up in a tight-knit, insular religious environment. They periodically split and reform as one group decides that more rigid rules must be enforced to ensure community purity. Eventually, after years of agony, separation, fear, suffocation and reconnection, the author left his community, finding elsewhere the joy and salvation he had been forever seeking.
I read both of these in one day.
In both, an unexpected theme surfaced: These men escaped because someone in their utterly different worlds offered them a glimpse of life that had possibilities of freedom — both physical and spiritual — they had never even dreamed of before. Light entered where there had only been darkness and despair before.
Both men walked treacherous paths to escape, and still walk complex paths to wholeness and healing. Both embrace Christianity. Both have stories of extremely limited educational opportunities, with strong authority figures that dictated the details of daily living. I want to think that the tight-knit religious community made those decisions for the best of reasons, and the corrupt leadership in North Korea for the worst of reasons, but the outcomes were chillingly similar.
As I read, I knew again that I want to live as someone who has found truth, and has found truth that sets me free, not imprisons me. I seek to base my life upon the goodness of God, a goodness that compels me to offer goodness to others.
I’m not naive. I know we live in a broken world where cruelty, wickedness and the wrong use of personal, political and military power seem to prevail. I also saw in my “being” week so much goodness. Meals, conversation, flowers, notes, cards and holy friendship filled my home. Prayer sustained me.
The light of the kingdom of heaven can break in anywhere — no matter how dark the environment. Light comes because you and I, ordinary people who chose to walk in the light, reach with love to those who long for it. Let us not let the world down. It really does depend on us.
THE REV. CHRISTY THOMAS is the pastor of First United Methodist Church of Krum. Reach her by calling 940-482-3482 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .