Broken and Beautiful: The Damoff's Story
Lately, I have been examining the effects of decay upon my particularly occupied patch in this universe (I assure you that as a melancholy, this comes quite naturally) and find myself now on the cusp of drinking deeply and refreshingly of the divine nature that tempers the world's decay. (As a contemplative, I relish the opportunity to bask in the beautiful good.)
Parting the Waters illuminates the notion that decay and divine work in tandem, complimenting one another, providing a teamwork approach to leading us into deeper understanding of God. But we have to be open to looking for it, expecting God to show Himself.
Jeanne's story starts at an end. The end of her eldest son, Jacob. Or Jacob-as-he-was, rather.
At 15 years old, his near drowning and subsequent brain injuries thrust Jeanne and her family into the murky waters of doubt and trust. It held them under, gasping for breath.
This was the end of easy faith.
The end of a pretty, gift-wrapped theology.
The end of passing familiarity with the God of widows and orphans.
I cried in almost every chapter of this book. Jeanne's accounts of the Divine reaching His hand through to her broken, breaking and suffocating family... words fail to describe the rush in my heart to read His acts of goodwill toward them. The God of widows and orphans met them in the doorway of their pain. He drew them near, got down on His knee and looked them in the eye as He tenderly ministered to their wounded hearts. And in the case of Jacob, his wounded body. Real hands, audible voices, wet tears- visible and tangible ministrations surrounded the Damoffs. God was moving through His people.
I cried when Jacob's body was revived. When Jacob made his first voluntary movement. The first time he laughed. I cried at his silent weeping as music moved his soul. When doctors and family saw small signs that he is still "in there." When Jacob said, "Mom."
I cried when he walked. When he got on a horse. I cried that he could eat a bowl of cereal. When his quiet presence ministered to others - just his being there with them- I teared up.
When he quipped, "Shoot me now!" Yep, I even cried at that point. (It was hysterical and thrilling to my mother's heart to see his quirky personality bubble back up to the surface. I have quirky kids of my own, Jeanne, so I delighted with you over this. Why just say "Ow" when you can holler "Shoot me now!" The effect is much more grand.)
Jacob Damoff, a young man who's outside appears a picture of decay and loss, reveals that the God who breathed life into Him is not finished glorifying Himself through him. The Divine in the Decayed.
Yeah, I was a mess from all the beauty. A beautiful mess. Which is a darned good way to be, I think.
One special touch that I am immensely enjoying are the personal accounts of many who have been impacted by Jacob's accident and the years since. This was not an isolated story, just for Jeanne to tell. It affected mother, father, husband and wife, sister and brother, best friends, pastors, school teachers, doctors, physical therapists, park rangers, students and complete strangers. Reading their own words of how God has met them intimately through Jacob's drowning knits my heart to this small arm of the Bride of Christ. Through them all, I know the God of orphans and widows better today.
Thank you George, Grace and Luke, in particular, for articulating how God has hovered attentively over your lives. Someday, that Great Someday, when Jacob's body might better cooperate with his will, I would love to hear Jacob himself tell how the Lord has hovered over him all these years. I bet I'll cry then too.
"These things our flesh understands and defines as decay- broken bodies, broken spirits, broken relationships- could they really be instead, the Divine breaking through to reach in and release us from our decay? Is it possible that decay might be a part of salvation?"
It's also A Truth Story. It's happening to all of us. Decay, wrapped in all it's losses, fears and pains, sets the stage perfectly for us to thrill at the climax of our faith story- God, the beautiful Divine.