“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going…” John 3v7
You can’t really take a picture of the wind, not even a very strong one. This still, soundless photograph does not convey the howling sound or the rattling movement of the tree: it doesn’t even demonstrate the destructive effects, as the pictures of the aftermath of the recent cyclone in Queensland or the 1987 hurricane certainly do. There wasn’t that much to show for this comparatively minor event – a few rubbish bags blown along the street and a polythene sheet flapping wildly – but it was very unsettling and quite exhilarating as it blew through the country on Monday. We were having a turbulent day, so it matched the mood.
Sam was very happy and tired after his meeting at the weekend: Monday morning brought the prospect of where we go from here… He has been waiting for this appointment for so long and although he feels positive and encouraged by the way it went – the large American man was very kind to him – none of us can be sure what, if anything, has actually happened. Now there is the sense of anti-climax – whatever does he aim for now? The worst thing is really wanting to look forward and make plans, as if the thing has actually gone for good – yearning to have woken up from a bad dream to a clear sunny morning – but knowing we have no proof, nor indeed anything solid at all to go on: at least until another brain scan is done in May. It is a matter of faith, but we cannot have faith in Kris Kraft, though Sam wants to – and the Lord has not spoken.
A friend reported flying to Florida through that turbulence on Monday: it was a very bumpy ride and she was relieved to arrive safely in Miami. Aeroplane passengers are always warned to stay seated and buckled in during turbulent conditions, because at any time the plane can hit a change in pressure and fall hundreds of feet. Yes, that is exactly what Monday felt like here! Sam rose early full of plans and hope, determined to ring the Building Society to ask for a loan. With no income except benefits he was, of course, refused… (Don’t ask me what he wanted to do with it – some clever online ‘sure-fire’ idea to make a ‘money tree’!?!) But he coped with the refusal really well… “So now I know what I have to aim for before they will lend it to me.” Fasten your seatbelts.
After so long being imprisoned by his disease and impecuniousness he is desperate to escape and to start ‘living’. In recent months he has become a man – and an angry young one at that. His second decision was that it would be good if he could ‘get out of here’ – leave home and live independently of his parents again. Yes, his parents would like that too… But after a conversation with the youth support worker at Nottingham hospital about how much housing benefit he could claim and some careful calculations of expenditure – and after realising he would have to live in a lot less comfort with people he may well not get on with – the fear of change was bigger than the desire to be free. Another drop into space and back to square one… a bit more discouraged now.
What is he going to do? Is it even worth making any plans when you have a terminal diagnosis? He didn’t have much idea before he was ill, but it was never going to be a conventional path! And on top of that the last 2 years have taken their emotional toll: in many ways he is exhausted and at the end of his tether. Surely he ought to make the most of life, make the most of now – we all need purpose and something to look forward to. But what and how, especially with no money? He refuses to get an ordinary job – he can manage very comfortably on his disability benefit while living here rent-free and food provided… but it doesn’t help him ‘grow up’ and he is the one suffering from that. Days are filled with searching for more and more hare-brained ‘marketing’ and ‘investment’ schemes on the internet and ‘studying’ endless American ‘teaching’ videos. We may well have a genius on our hands, but he has yet to make a cent. Come on, Sam, surprise us – prove us wrong!
So there he sat on the sofa on Monday, while the wind blew litter up the street outside, bemoaning his fate, the insecurity of the economic climate and his lost generation. And then the real issue that is frightening him came out in a rush: “I don’t ever want to have another scan again unless I get more symptoms”. Nor does he want to see the consultant or go anywhere near the hospital… because he is ‘better now!’ He doesn’t want to be reminded of the hidden threat, the reality too upsetting to contemplate.
Of course its a privilege to be there for someone at their most raw and vulnerable, especially when its your son: it is more challenging because of the personal cost, but by the grace of God I managed to find the words for the moment, to reassure him and calm him down. But it is only my hope in Jesus that carries me through such painful moments – strengthens me to both face the truth and accept whatever He sends, and still be able to hope for the best outcome. I suppose that is the equivalent of my ‘seatbelt’ on the plane…
Later on in the evening we hit another patch of turbulence and the seatbelt lights came on again. Sam came downstairs in an even worse state, this time saying, “I want a scan done immediately!” Oh dear! Of course he is longing to be sure it has all gone away; wouldn’t that make life easier again?! In some ways it would… But we all know this is a gradual journey one way or the other, not a quick fix… unless GOD… We have to pace out the journey now until May.
It is all so exhausting for all of us, having long, intense, rather Sam-sided conversations as he pours out his anxieties and the plane jolts in the sky. Are we headed for a crash landing? If we just accepted things as the doctors have told us, without hope of reprieve, in many ways it would be easier… headed for the inevitable descent, brace positions and pray. Only the peace of Jesus can carry one smiling toward death and loss; even then we wouldn’t know how long. Sam is not ready to face that – especially now. No, the invisible air currents have us in their power and we don’t know where they are taking us or what the time schedule is. So we keep our seatbelts fastened and listen out for the Captain’s instructions.
“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” John 3v7