A Journey of Faith

Chasing the Wisp

She always felt around as she went, groping through the dark day after day after day. The dark was heavy and she could barely remember a time when there was light. There were rememberings inside her that made the darkness heavier and thicker and far more threatening, but sometimes she could feel it getting lighter. She had gotten so used to feeling her way through life that she didn't know how to react the day the wisp appeared.

 It was a day not much different than the others that had come before it. She woke up and began her day, just like the day before, and the day before that, and so many before that. Some days she just went through the motions of living, pretending that she could see just fine and that there was really no darkness crushing her. But this day was different. As she began her trek through the dark, she noticed something new. Well, not new really, but somehow… unfamiliar. It was a wisp of light; faint and shimmering, like it wasn't really there. She tried to focus her gaze on it, but when she looked directly at it, it seemed to disappear. She gave up after a few minutes, but the wisp was always at the back of her mind, beckoning her. It was there the next day too, just as faint and shimmering, but also a little more real at the same time. Again she tried to focus on it and again it evaded her gaze. This went on for a time, not every day, but off and on. Some days were darker and heavier than she remembered, but the days when the wisp visited were there too, so on the dark and lonely days, she tried to remember that the wisp existed. On the days when the darkness sucked the breath from her very being, she thought maybe she had simply imagined the wisp.

After mentally chasing the wisp for months, she noticed one day that the shimmering was more solid than it had been. When she looked at it, it didn't fade away, so she tried to grab it and pull it to her. Her efforts were unsuccessful though, and the wisp remained just out of her grasp for the rest of the day.

It was days before the wisp reappeared. When it did, it was faint again, so she tried putting all her energy into making it stronger. By the time she could see the shimmering become solid, she was exhausted. She was so tired and sore that she collapsed on her bed and slept long and deep. The darkness tried to take over as she slept and the things it brought to her mind left her weak and trembling for days afterward.

Her life became a cycle of days of deep, deep darkness interrupted by days of chasing after the wisp. She would have a bunch of days where the darkness was stifling, days when she couldn’t fight it for another second. Then the wisp would come back and she would give everything she had, anything at all to pull it to her, to grasp it and make it stay with her. She tried talking to others, desperate to find a strategy that would help her capture the wisp. Some scoffed at her efforts… just grab it, they said, what is your problem? Others had never lost hold of it to begin with, not really. Maybe for a time their grip on the wisp had faltered, but not for long, and never completely. Some mocked her faith and her determination, saying that she was lazy or weak for letting the wisp get away.

It was hard to convince those around her that the wisp was growing stronger; that it took all her energy, but that there were days when she was almost able to catch it and hold it for a time. They only saw her groping her way around in the cloud of darkness and saw her exhaustion. They were convinced that this meant that she had given up fighting, even ridiculously that she had no desire to be rid of the darkness at all. She was frequently tempted to give up trying to make them understand. Why bother explaining to them when all they would do was tell her she was doing it all wrong… that if she really wanted to emerge from the darkness, all she had to do was make a decision. The hardest thing was that the energy she spent trying to figure out how to explain the darkness to them, and trying to make them understand what the fight was like, was energy that she could be spending on capturing the wisp. Did she try to give them the tools to support her so she didn’t have to try to escape the darkness alone? Or did she put every single bit of energy she could muster into finally grabbing that elusive wisp? And if she managed to grab on to it, what did she do with it then?

            She knew the day it happened that something was different. She felt different, more solid somehow; more light in some strong, indistinct way. When the wisp appeared, she almost didn’t notice it, it kind of blended into the space around her. Only when she realized that the darkness looked different somehow did she see it shimmering in front of her. She reached out, tentatively at first, then with determination. Her fingers closed carefully around it and she held her breath. She waited a moment, just to be sure that it wouldn’t disappear again. Instead, it pulsed brighter and warmer in her hand. She slowly pulled it toward her, still holding her breath. The closer she pulled it to her, the stronger it pulsed, until it sounded like the beating of her heart in her ears. Her strength finally gave out and she let go with a gasp. The wisp hovered for a moment and then floated away. A few more times that day she saw it out of the corner of her eye, but when she tried to follow it, it disappeared. It didn’t matter, she had held it! She had felt its power flowing through her! She could catch the wisp! She was exhausted, but she was ok.

The wisp continued to float, just out of her vision, for days afterward. This left her frustrated and out of sorts. She had held it in her hand, why couldn’t she do that again? She spent a few exasperating days trying to see it clearly so that she could try to grab it again.

Sometimes she felt the frustration so keenly that she wanted to scream. She hated that she couldn’t hold onto the wisp; hated that she had held it, that she put so much energy into catching and keeping it… and yet it continued to elude her. There were so many times that she was tempted to give up completely. What was the use of continuing to chase the wisp if she would never.catch.it??? She couldn’t bear the thought of going through this chase for the rest of her life and never really succeeding.

She stopped chasing the wisp. She watched it with a disinterested gaze if ever it appeared. She sometimes resented it, sometimes feared it, sometimes even craved it. But she couldn’t bring herself to try to catch it for a long time.

Then one day things changed again.

As is often the case on days of great change, things looked more or less the same as they always did... or in her case, didn't. She was again groping about in the semi-darkness when the wisp appeared in the corner of her vision. Without thinking, she reached out her arm and grabbed it, in a resigned, almost angry way. It fought her for a bit, but she held tight and didn't give it much of her attention. After a minute, the wisp settled into her hand and she could feel the warmth of it growing. Her heart pounded, and she held her breath as she waited for it to break free from her grasp. She carried it carefully around with her for the rest of the day, and by the time she went to bed that night she realized that she was still holding that elusive wisp and she went to sleep with a sigh. The dream, the same old story, tried to intrude on her sleep, but she woke up and said prayer after prayer, all the while holding onto the wisp with all her might. Finally, she drifted back to sleep and slept until late morning. She lay still for a few minutes, then opened her eyes to see what the day looked like. There was a brightness around the edges of everything that she hadn't noticed before. Not terribly bright, but enough that she could make out her surroundings. And the wisp was still there. Again, she carefully carried it through the day, checking every so often to make sure it was still there. A few times it started to pull away or struggle against her grasp, but she held on tight and refused to let it go.

She was able to hold onto the wisp for quite a few days. It wasn't always easy, sometimes she felt like she was fighting to the death again, but she still held tight to it. Sometimes she almost forgot that she was holding it, and it almost seemed to become a part of her.

After that day there were days when the wisp disappeared, and days when it was floating just out of her reach. Some days she was able to grab ahold of it, and hold on tight. Some days she didn't even think about the wisp, she just grabbed it and went  on with her day. She couldn't decide if knowing she could grab the wisp made it easier or harder on the days that it again eluded her. On the one hand, knowing that there would likely be a day again that she would catch it made the days without it seem a little more bearable. On the other hand, knowing that she should be able to catch it but couldn't was increasingly frustrating.

                                                                            Part Two

The wisp was gone. Completely and irretrievably gone. She couldn't see it, couldn't feel it... it was no where to be found. Between trying to come to grips with the biggest admission she had ever made, to herself or others, and the reality that her family was falling away from each other in ways that broke her heart... she not only couldn't see or feel the wisp, she didn't even care to look for it. Her heart was broken and so was her will. One thing after another, and finally she had had enough. She bought a big bottle of pills and made her plan.

If she had known how the pills would change her world... would she have still taken them? Would she have taken more, kept taking them even after she heard the phone ring and her husband's response? Would she have done something more irreversible... or would she have made more calls, been more persistent in finding someone to help her back to a desire to live? Would having known what the lingering effects of that decision were going to be have made her resolve to keep trying... or would it have made her try harder to make her attempt a success.

It didn't matter now, she was still alive... in complete and total darkness and in a locked facility "for her own good" but she was still alive. As she sat on the bed, alone and scared and feeling darker than she could ever remember feeling, she felt a tug at her heart. She wept until there was nothing left, pouring her heart and soul out into her prayer. As she sat there, drained, she realized that she had two choices... she could either let the darkness continue to entomb her and bask in it's misery... or she could put her trust in the God she felt called to and let Him guide her out of that darkness. Oh, she wanted so much to let Him be her guide, but the journey out of the darkness felt more like an insurmountable mountain that she needed to climb without rest and without end. How on earth could she do that??? how on earth could she ever hope to survive? She couldn't even imagine continuing to breath in and out every day, let alone survive and thrive in a world where she didn't fit and couldn't find any peace. But then the memory of her daughter, sitting on the couch next to her as the EMTs tried to keep her awake, crying and sobbing and begging her to stay alive... how could she ever forget that?

She worked her butt off in that place. She stopped chasing the wisp, instead praying to God to bring it to her. There in that isolation she was able to start seeing it again. It was faint, but it was real. The day came when her husband came to take her home and she was glad to go, so glad to go... but scared too. Would she be able to cope away from constant support? She went home and hugged her family and tried to get back into daily life, but things were different.

God was true to his promise to never forsake those who love Him. He continued to bring the wisp to her... still making her work for it, but showing her ways to hold on to it a little longer, a little tighter each time. She got better at carrying the wisp with her, but there were still days when she lost her grip on it and it disappeared for days at a time. She learned new skills, tried to figure out what it was that drew the wisp to her and what chased it away. She reached out to others in the hopes that the more people who knew about her quest to hold onto the wisp the easier it would be to hold onto it.

One of the most significant things she learned in the process of chasing the wisp was that the wisp was not hers... nor was it a part of her. And that was ok. She could learn to grasp the wisp, carry it with her, but she could never posses it completely...only revel in the light it brought when she did manage to hold onto it for a time. She could learn to show the light it radiated to those around her... and help those who sought it to find their own way to hold onto it. Most importantly, she could stop beating herself up when she lost hold of it and just concentrate on staying alive until she found the wisp again.

And so that is what she did. She learned to see the wisp as a part of her world that may come and go, but that would always come back eventually. And that was enough.

                                                                  The End

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