^ If you experienced church abuse then this is a tw. No talk of abuse included
Once a week I go for a short drive in my car. It has actually become easier to drive a short distance than to walk it. Because walking involves both of my legs, and my left leg does not cooperate. It gets weak depending on the terrain and then extremely painful at night. So, I do my 10 minute drive, and come home. It makes me feel independent. It gives me a feeling of freedom. I had not driven in 12 years, since my muscle disease diagnosis, until a few months ago. I started with just the driveway. Then the neighborhood. Then the next neighborhood over. I was so sore it took 2 weeks to recover when I first started. Now, I am able to go out once a week with minimal recovery time UNLESS I make a stop.
This drive I decided to accomplish something, so I parked in the disabled parking right in front of CVS. Figured out the distance to the lotion, which was about the length of my house, which I can do, so I went for it. I did not take into account waiting in line to pay. So I sat on the floor of the CVS. Then had a hard time getting up! Then I hobbled out to the car, thankful for right leg that keeps me going strong. My right shoulder and left leg are predominantly affected although some days my entire body is (like today, where it hurts to even turn my head or lift my foot). I reclined the seat and rested in the car for 30 minutes. It takes exactly 7 minutes to get home from CVS. On cruise control it is easily done. There is no light. I just cross a road and then the road to my house is a long 5 mile stretch of pasture and sky.
As I pulled across the main road onto our road, I saw the church. I felt led. I had to pull in. I grew up in church but I had not been to church in 12 years, due to my inability to get there. In that 12 years I have prayed anywhere, any time, any place. I definitely did not require a church to connect to God, which was a good thing, because. I had no way to get to church anyway.
I pulled into the back dirt parking lot of the church. I left the car running and the door open. I took my camera because I wanted to take a picture of the steeple. It just seemed calming to me. As I walked up I saw that there was this small garden sanctuary next to the church. It was beautiuful. There was a bench to sit on, a waterfall. And perfectly placed stones on the ground where I felt myself led to kneel and pray. Something was missing though. I don’t know what. I didn’t “feel” connected to God at all. But it certainly was beautiful.
I limped back to my still running car, the door was chiming because I had left it open. As I was about to get in I looked to my left and there was a little path. I had to go down it. It looked like art work as stepping stones that maybe the congregation or the children had made to add to the path. And there it was. My “ahhhh.” There were flowers everywhere. Since it had just rained there were water droplets on every one of them. I gasped and oooohed and aaaahed for awhile as I took pictures of the purple, yellow, pink, white, gorgeous flowers. Some of these flowers I have never even seen before. It really was a magical place.
Then I saw what led me there. A huge white cross with an angel right next to it. I fell right down on my knees and started sobbing. I felt so safe there. I was all alone in the garden down a back path behind a church and I felt completely safe. I felt like I had angels surrounding me telling me that I would be ok. That I was not alone. That I could cry there. A few times I glanced over my shoulder to see if I really was alone. I was. My car door still chiming in the background that I’d left it open. But not a person in sight. I cried at the cross for a long time. I humbled myself. I prayed for my daughter’s healing. I prayed for my healing. I prayed for forgiveness for anything and everything.
When I stood to finally go I felt cleansed. I felt renewed. I felt I had shed this tainted darkness that had been following me and haunting me. The residue of living with chronic illness, a daughter with a chronic illness, a life of struggle and pain. I made it back to my car and took one more look at the little path to make sure it was real. It felt very surreal. I’m glad I took some pictures to prove to me it did exist. I sat in the car and thought about the times I have pleaded wtih God, talked with God, communicated with God, on walks, in my bedroom, I have prayed just about everywhere.
This place felt sacred to me.
I barely, and I mean barely made it home. Then I realized it was easier to drive than to walk. My left leg was almost what I call “dead leg” because it stops functioning all together. Hence my need for an accessible car with a wheelchair lift. So, I crawled to the front door and got into my wheelchair. I came back outside because I heard none other than my owl. She was high up in a tree. You can barely see her. She turned her head around backwards to say hello.
I told her about my trip to the church and how I felt close to God, not alone, safe. And at that VERY moment, as I was talking to my sweet owl, I noticed I felt exactly the same way. So I started crying all over again, telling the owl about my experience and how peace and safety can be found in the most unlikely places. Like, talking to an owl in the middle of the street. Or while holding someone’s hand while they are about to go to heaven, in a hospital room. Or while looking out over the waves in an ocean. Or, finding a path behind a church that you didn’t know existed.
The rest of the night and the next day my left leg was very weak and very painful. It was ok though. Finding that white cross and that angel were just what I needed at that moment. I was in the presence of something so amazing that I will not soon forget.