November 20, 2009

Ark 1: Floods

My story as an old guy with a beard, a double diabetes deluge
on a boat.



I know the rule of polite society that says I’m not supposed to talk about religion. I’m not all that polite.

I think religion is about life and doing good. My religion is about my life. Hopefully it helps me do the right thing.

Writing helps me sort through and find what I really think. This essay is a reaction to a church service that hit home. Well three services. They were a series and so is this. The series spoke to me and various stages of my life with the kids’ diabetes.

Since living with the variations of diabetes is the point of YDMV I figured I would share my thoughts. It has been a couple of years since I have sprung philosophy on y’all. Now, like then, you may not recognize me as the author. Now, like then, I hope it is a pleasant surprise.

Before I go into the series here’s my basic philosophy: Good stories are allegorical. Same goes Bible stories. I can find a message about my live in them someplace, if I look. For example, I don’t have to be Thomas Aquinas to figure out that Jesus told stories that meant more than just their face value. The whole tiny grain of mustard seed growing to large branches isn’t about growing herbs. It is about a little truth growing to be important in life.

Stories are like that. More than meets they eye. I try to see the whole. I am not real good at it but I try. Sometimes I find something to see.


Which brings me to the Ark series. It came in three parts:
  • Floods
  • Floating
  • Covenant
It is a story that featured Noah and a flood. That was about where the expected ended.

So we got a flood. A big flood. A life changing killer flood.

Floods. There is the spring flood, the 100 year flood and the ever popular 500 year flood. Everyone faces floods in life. I think everyone reading YDMV knows floods. Not the water type, the life altering, spiritual challenge, break your heart flood.

Feel free to raise your hand if you think you know what I am going on about.

The guy who gave the talks, Chuck, said that we all get all the floods. We are all busy making plans and Bam! We get hit with a flood. Mine was less a diabetes diagnosis or two per se and more our school’s reaction to them.

Feel free to raise your hand if y’all know that school and diabetes flood too.

Now the floods aren’t there to punish us or specifically be trials (see my previous musings linked above). Here was an interesting part Chuck brought up that I never thought about, the floods are there to help wash away stuff. Stuff that is in my head and heart. In the bible story these things are playing the parts of “The giants, heroes of renown.” In short that part of myself I put up on a on a plinth. My own rigidity, selfishness and maybe even my own home grown doctrine about how I make value of stuff in myself.

What I understood him to be saying was a flood is a change that happens and in it we loose some bad stuff and maybe gain some good stuff. While god may work it out for the best in the long run, it doesn’t seem like there is anything worthwhile going on as the water rises. Not that there is a whole lot of alternative - it is on the boat or in the water.

None of us got a choice. Our families got type 1. We were all overwhelmed. Bring on the flood. Yet somehow, before hand we built a boat. Apparently god called us to build it in the back yard. I am not so sure I knew I got the call.

What is an Ark? A vestal to hold us and what were bringing aboard. As in an emotional life boat. Chuck’s message was the Ark was faith and that faith is the ability to see with the eye of love. OK I’ll take that on faith and I’ll loop back later.

So what is in the boat?

Noah is in the boat. The heroes we built up - not in the boat.

Noah is some unselfish part of ourself, some part that somehow walks with god. Even in the deluge that part gets on a boat. So do a lot of animals. Clean and unclean and we all go floating.

And it keeps raining. Forty day and forty nights. I’m getting a flood and it keeps coming. Folks I am here to say diagnosis is only the first day of rain. It is overwhelming. You get into your life boat with the best and worst of life. It keeps raining. Every day. The water keeps rising.

It isn’t a pleasure cruise.

Nobody tell us how long we are gonna be floating. Hell it just keeps raining.


Nobody knows how long the dazed and confused feelings at diagnosis are going to last. It rains for forty days and nights - the water rises for a month and a half! It just keeps coming. (And those jack asses at training are talking about a Honeymoon! - WTF!) There are clean and unclean animals in the boat with us, hope, kindness, fear, guilt.

There is no land to be a landmark. It is all under the water. We have no clue where we are.

Adrift.

One Window.

Surrounded by the best and worst animals of life and it’s mate. Oh and we better get to work doing stuff. We are in a place we have never been before and doesn’t matter if it came from love or fear the stalls need to be mucked out 'casue we are knee deep in it.

In our case we gave shots and poked steel shards in our kids’ arms and fingers and try to pretend it was all OK. We smiled and that smile was a big lie to keeps the kids alive. Bad and good and it's mate.

Is this sounding familiar to anyone yet?

In my case the flood was not just a child or two being diagnosed with diabetes. The deluge was being set adrift when our church school administration turned those kids out rather than even considering trying to follow best care practices. Noah got on a boat while a lot of what I thought I valued drowned.

I am not sure who Noah was. That is, what part in me was Noah. He may have been that part that cared as much about the next T1 kid as my own. I know that as I cried and cursed my sister, the single strongest supporter my wife and I had in our floods, kept telling us that we weren’t just going through this for just our kids. That we were in it for all the T1 kids who will sadly but without question follow. I would like to think that but I am not sure. I am OK with not being sure.

I know I went for a long rudderless ride and how I saw the future a few years ago isn’t where we are. And now in retrospect maybe that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As for the Ark, well that is real tough because I wasn’t particularly looking out with love a lot as my personal floods kept pouring in day after day. Somewhere in the time the kids were kicked out the first time, I was unemployed and home with them, inventing stupid meter tricks to keep them entertained, I became aware of the online diabetes community. That was something I could look at with love.

I met many of those folks last summer. Looking back I can see how ridiculously important they are to me. But that is getting ahead. This essay is about staying above rising water.

This is about personal floods. We have had’m. Don’t recommend’m. In point of fact everybody get them and that what the Ark story is about.

For some of us the flood is a T1 diagnosis (or two.) We think diagnosis is the flood but it is just the first day and the sky is dark grey and keeps raining. We are adrift with the best and the worst, hope, kindness, fear, guilt. At 34 days into a forty day flood the boat stinks, we are sea sick, there is no sign the rain will stop and humidity does nothing for the smell.

Noah is in some part of us. Some part part walks with god even when there is a flood and walking is not an option. If nothing else I find comfort in the idea that the story doesn’t end in the flood on day 34.

Next up: Floating or what you learn alone and adrift.

The Ark series that inspired this is partially available on line at http://vimeo.com/6708135 Partially in that all talking is there sadly the music of the services isn’t. Each service featured amazing music, rock for the most part but the music is most notable for a hauntingly beautifully version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. The full service is with tunes available on a DVD. They don't have an online store but you can email and he can get you a disk.

2 comments:

Penny said...

Oh thank you Bennet, thank you so much for this. You have no idea how it touched me as a newly parent of a Type 1 child.
Keep writing...

Mark said...

Wow. This hits me on many levels - from personal to spiritual. I love learning new allegorical interpretations. Can't wait to read the remainder.