One of my 12th grade girls in my small group went through a really rough period this year. Here is her story.
Air is different here. This world is thick, and Darkness weighs upon my shoulders like a heavy water-logged cape. Clear liquid drips from the ceiling but turns to ash and scalds my tongue when I attempt to drink. I am so dry, so thirsty for something that cannot exist here. Each breath is solid with thick toxins, giving a false sense of humidity and warmth. I don’t belong here and it’s killing me. This world is buried beneath a thousand layers of reality, everything is fake and false. Truth cannot survive here. I am a neglected spruce in the desert with limp limbs for branches and grimy matted hair for needles.
So weak. There is no past and no future. The present is fading and I can feel myself dying. It’s not like I imagined. There is no pain, only Sadness clasping at my throat gently with wispy fingers as if preparing a mummy for burial. My keepers can see it too. They are huddled and hunched in a sharp corner, speaking in low languid voices I loathe. They reside in darkness and feed upon the decay of the scum that rats refuse to touch. The keepers rise suddenly and begin to advance towards me while dancing a grotesque and evil dance. They twist angrily and pair up with Despair, Abuse, and Shame which twirl them as they chant “Wither my pet, Wither!” My only companions are greedy for my suffering. It is time for me to slip away now…goodbye...wait…what…how?!
“Ahgheiwpsdnc!!” the dark inhabitants cry out as they flatten themselves against the ground, involuntarily bowing in anguish to an invisible force. Trying to shield their ears, pluck out their eyes, but nothing can block this power surging through the dungeon. One is retching violently and begins to shrivel. The other frantically digs to escape; dirt flies everywhere but no progress is made.
But like a silent trumpet calling upon the living, I see an impossibly pure river of silver and gold light rush into the dungeon as an unwavering voice proclaims “I have come for my bride, my princess, my daughter.” At the first syllable, every spirit and keeper explodes into piles of ash that are instantly swept away by the mighty father’s breath. This man had journeyed to the nadir of existence, a place where spirits often boasted that light could never penetrate, and where Sadness’s most precious prisoners are kept in chains made rusty by their own tears. He has come for me? I don’t believe it. Am I worthy of rescuing?
I want to question him but he has gathered me in his arms like a priceless treasure and is running through the passage to the outside world. As he runs, a redeeming light heals everything in our path; Captive flees in horror but is incinerated by the unstoppable river. My father’s arms are strong, secure, and steadfast. His touch is gentle and his cloak is light and soft. I am transformed from a ghostly prisoner to a swaddled baby, still helpless, but warm and dependent in a way that is perfect. I belong here in his arms and will remain forever.
We burst through the ground like a giant first punching through a wall, but my father protects me and I feel no impact. Ouch! Truth and Reality slap me forcefully but also playfully. Now I remember. Colors, people, songs, sugar, family, oxygen, creativity, love. I want to live here in this world but I know I am still dying.
Wait! My dad is a surgeon of the soul. My body becomes transparent as I feel him delicately unclench my paralyzed fist from my heart and lift it from my chest. I trust him completely because we have met before. He was my father before I was taken, during my imprisonment, and now. He never stopped searching for me and I never stopped longing for him.
He is looking thoughtfully at the heart; there is no life to be seen, only a sickly gray lump that has more resemblance to a hairball than a vital organ. But he transfers me to one hand and with the other massages the heart back to life. It turns black first as deep shame floats to the surface and is removed, next it becomes white as he purifies it with his mercy. Finally, he pours a refined and rich red liquid onto the surface. It takes me a moment to see it is coming from a hole the size of a nail in his otherwise perfect palm. He is reviving my heart with his own blood. It is now red and healthy and he nestles it softly where he created it to be. I feel so strong now, so clean and pure and joyful and accepted and beautiful and forgiven and loved.