Their work done for the day in Mark 4, Jesus invites his disciples to go across to the other side. They get in a boat, leave the crowd behind, and Jesus falls asleep despite a wild windstorm that arises. His disciples awaken him, certain that they are perishing. Jesus commands the wind and sea with three words: Peace! Be still! A dead calm follows. He reminds his friends that there was no need to be afraid and that they need to be more faith-filled. I suspect after that, he snuggled back onto his cushion and slept soundly, as the disciples were silently gobsmacked at what they had just seen.
Often in life, we think that Jesus does not have our situation on his radar, when clearly in this story, he sees it much differently than we do. Even when we may believe that Christ is asleep at the helm, he is in control. How do we even begin to understand this when the wild winds and waves beat us into terror? Fear is not from God. We can acknowledge it–and must–but it is not where we must stand. We must plant our standard in Christ’s court and embrace fully the peace that is offered to us. Then what should happen is this eerie dead calm. When all around us, fear and anxiety rise, we, at the core of our beings, have a peace beyond our own understanding.
I have some stuff I have been dealing with this week and in the midst of it, I found myself alone and at Urgent Care at midnight. Earlier in the evening I had experienced some flashing lights in my left eye. The retina in my right eye had detached a decade ago and while it was not exactly the same, I must admit that I wondered what was going on. When I finally went to brush my teeth and head to bed, as I stared at the white sink, I noticed a huge floater in my eye. I could feel the anxiety rising. Really? I was so annoyed to think that I might have to deal with another loss to this poor body of mine.
I walked over to Urgent Care which is very close to my home. I knew from experience that driving was not going to be an option. My hood is very safe in my eyes but not everyone agrees. I arrived safely and checked in. I fell apart on the poor nurse who took my information. Despite the 3-hour waiting time, I was ushered in within half an hour. The nurse who should have been at the front desk wandered in to see me, asking if she could get me anything. As she went to fetch me a glass of water, I looked up and saw the crucifix on the wall. Thank God for Catholic hospitals! The dead calm settled into me.
The doctor gave me a quick check up and then sent me home to sleep because ophthalmologists do not really get woken up for issues like what I was experiencing. Then, because he had seen my chart and the notes that the nurse had made about all that I had been through this year he asked if I was with someone who would be taking me home. I said no. Now at 1:00 a.m. he was not going to release me to the streets. People get jumped here all the time, he told me. That was news to me and I did not really believe him. I guess because of some of the recent issues with health care, the hospital was liable for me. After great discussion, he put me in a taxi and sent me home where I slept soundly.
Yesterday afternoon, I saw a delightful doctor in his office and was told that the vitreous jelly in my eye had collapsed as part of the natural aging process. Most people probably do not even notice but because mine happened at night, the flashing lights concerned me. I was relieved when he sent me home without having to do any type of intervention, though he did say that I was in the early stages of macular degeneration in my right eye.
Safely on the other side of this curve ball, I can say, hello. Here is yet another lesson in trusting that whether Jesus is asleep or not, I should not shift into full-throttle fear. One word and a dead calm arrives.
When have you been gobsmacked when Christ has transformed a moment of terror into a dead calm?
What do you say from the other side?
Hello from the other side, Jesus. I thought you were asleep and panicked for a moment. I wanted to leap out of the boat for just a second, but then you knew my heart. You knew exactly what I needed and brought me safely to the the shore. Thank you for your abiding peace and dead calm. I ask for deeper faith and trust. We are in this boat together and all is well. Amen.