Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Pacman

"Honey, honey, hush. Hush! Nothing is there," my mother said. "Trust me, I'll show you, monsters don't live under your bed."

Most of the women were strangers to me and, as is the way of polite company, were not what they first appeared to be. It was a writing seminar so we wrote. The quiet room was the color of french vanilla. Outside a lilac covered patio served as a foyer to the gardens. While I couldn't see the waterfall from where I was sitting, its splashing sweet song hinted of peace, of cool water on sun burned skin. But it was peace hinted, not embraced for I was not what I appeared to be. I listened, I smiled, I wrote. But moving stealthily within the deepest recesses of my body were malignant Pacman cells ferociously gobbling up good and happy ones. Cells making war on cells. Biological fratricide.

"We need to talk about pathology," said my surgeon weeks before the seminar. Whatever else was said in his exam room that afternoon disappeared into an emotional black hole. Everything, that is, except that he was certain. Cancer. Stage 4. Terror perforated my life and Heaven seemed silent.

So I came to the seminar to learn something about writing, hoping to rescript my life or at least to come to terms with it and the God I love. But over the course of the next two days other stories began to penetrate the below zero bone-aching cold of my own. Stories written and spoken by lovely and decent people that gave evidence of other gobbling Pacmen more hideous to me than mine. Beth wrote of her two sisters, one a twin, who were killed by their alcoholic father driving in a drunken rage. She survived only to suffocate on the guilt of surviving. Tina wrote of being raped by daddy and then by brother and then by brother's friends. Hate. Pernicious and venal. Savage mortal Pacman cells gobbling up good and happy ones. Someone should pay, they said, and Heaven seemed silent.

I do not know what became of Beth and Tina and the other lovely and decent women that I met that weekend a few years ago. But when I was told Monday that my remission has failed, that Pacman is back gobbling his way through my bones, I thought of them. And I thought of The Cross.

"Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!'
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.
'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
'He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' "
Matthew 27:39-43

Mortal Pacmen raised their fists at the foot of the cross that Friday while spiritual Pacmen screamed and screeched their apparent Hellish victory. Hate. Pernicious and venal. It cost God His very best but the curse of Pacman's hate and drunkenness and rape and despair was broken.

"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.' "
Matthew 28:5-6

And speaking into the ravaged places of every heart that will choose to accept that His sacrifice was for them, is the song of the waterfalls peace and the redemption of Pacman's destruction. Not an answer to Beth's and Tina's and my question. Rather, a solution to our problem.

"And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.
And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.' "
Matthew 28:17-20

My beloved mother was wrong. Monsters can hide under the bed. Sometimes they are disease and sometimes they are car wrecks and sometimes they are dad. But Heaven's silence is never Heaven's absence.

The prophet cries out

Death will be swallowed up in victory.