The River

riverI almost died last month.

It’s hard for me to write about this, not because I lack the ability to tell a story, but because I’m not sure I want to tell it. There is something in keeping it to myself that makes it mine, in a way that telling it does not.

The things we tell are always compared, judged, ranked, accepted, qualified, or discarded. That’s not a bad thing. It helps us understand ourselves. If my story resonates with you, we will have a kind of kinship. If it doesn’t, we will be distanced. This is how we define our tribes.

When I realized that I may die soon, I felt alone. I wanted to see my children and wife again, and was angry that I might not get to. The anger fell into a choking sadness, and that, once exhausted along with my body, became a choice.

I decided to reach out to God. I told him that I could not do this alone. If it was just me, and my body, and my mind, I was going to die. I needed help.

I got it.

I do not claim to know what God is. I would be a terrible prosylitizer. But what I do know, with more certainty than my own identity, is that part of what God is, is power. For me, on Tuesday August 18, 2015, God was enough power for me to survive six hours alone, beaten by rocks, torn by thorns, until I could carry myself to my inept, would-be rescuers.

Let me be clear on that: What saved me was me, with God’s help. Oklahoma’s river rescue services can go suck one.

I believe that was the point of my experience. It did not restore lost faith in humanity, or myself. I still think far too many people are idiots, and that I am weak. This was purely about me and God, and facing death.

That is why I cannot tell the story. I’m afraid that when reveal in bare facts it will lay limp, a dead thing pinned to cardboard, and I will doubt again.

And I don’t want to live that way anymore.


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