Opening The Black Box: Part 3

Fourteen years on from opening the monster's box—I look out on a quiet day: birds singing and the air fresh and clean. It doesn't go with the world of Part Three. ‘The heavens frighten us, they are too calm,' an old poem says, ‘In all the universe we have no place ... Our wounds are hurting us: where is the balm?… We must have you O Jesus of the Scars.'* In this third unfolding—wandering around the house, walking to the river—we've hit a barrier. Surely, we must have dug deep enough into this hell hole. No need to keep prodding. But we're not prodding. It just keeps coming. But we did flick the latch on that freaking cage. And you still get that filthy skin feeling when you crawl into bed at night. And still catch yourself hiding your hands from people, like they're dirty: like you are defiled. And yes, you've learned now to keep your mouth shut. Talking is like lifting heavy furniture. It's hard to think. Wandering into the dusty cobweb office, we stand there, staring. It's like I'm looking for distractions: waiting for something, which I am I suppose. And so tired, so heavy. Just need to sleep. A thought, a piece of wisdom would be good. An old proverb comes to mind. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't try to work it out on your own. In all your ways remember him and he will make your paths straight.'** On your own is not good. No, but it saves embarrassment, fuss and bother. And your pride? Time to stop putting it off. I just stand here now and pray to see if a name comes to mind. A name does come. The name of a good friend. It makes perfect sense. Why didn't I think of her before? I'll email her hubby—now. I walk to the computer and place my fingers on the keys. But the fingers won't do the job, they're shaking violently like I've touched a live voltage wire. I force my hands and fingers into it. I type the message and lie down to sleep. Thank goodness that part's over and done with. Days later a message returns from her husband with her phone number. I make the call. We talk: her mostly listening and asking questions. ‘I can't help you,' she says. ‘Oh.' She keeps talking—explaining and offering options—but I'm not listening. *Can't help* is all I hear. I want to hang up. ‘I think I can find someone who can help,' she says. ‘No worries.' I put the phone down. Yep. Another dead end. There you go, God. Why did I even bother? Weeks pass and there's no call. Meanwhile the paralysed-on-the-floor episodes and flashbacks keep coming and I'm learning more about what's happened to me. The phone rings. It's the counsellor. ‘I've found someone who can help you.' ‘Okay.' ‘What do you think about hypnotherapy?' ‘Um—not sure. I've mostly heard bad.' Another blow! Heart sinking. This just gets worse. ‘This man is very good. Anyway, no pressure, Pete. Have a think about it.' This is insane. So many terrible hypnosis quack stories: weird stories. It's all too complicated and yes, dramatic. The whole world will hear of this and laugh. No way! While my mind is ticking over, a favourite story comes to mind: a three thousand year old story about a slave girl, her master and a prophet. During a military raid on Israel, a Syrian army general, Naaman, captures a young Israelite girl who becomes a maid to his wife. The girl hears that Naaman has leprosy. ‘I know of a man of God in my country,' she says to Naaman's wife, ‘who could heal him.' When the general hears of it, he asks his king if he can go. The king agrees. ‘And here's a letter of introduction,' the king says. ‘Give this to the king of Israel.' Naaman sets off, taking bags of gold and silver and delivers the letter to the king. ‘I've sent my servant Naaman,' the King reads the words aloud, ‘to you to be healed.' The king loses it, ripping his robe to pieces. ‘Am I a god,' he asks, ‘with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What's going on? The Syrian king's trying to pick a fight, that's what!' Elisha, the man of God, hears what's happened and sends word to the king. ‘Send him to me,' he says, ‘he might learn something from a prophet of Israel.' When Naaman, his horses and chariots arrive, Elisha's servant meets him and says, ‘Go to the Jordan River and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you'll be as good as new.' But Naaman has a brain snap. ‘He didn't even come out to see me,' he yells as he rides away. ‘I've got beautiful blue rivers at home. I can bathe in them. No way I'm getting into that muddy creek!'*** *Jesus of The Scars (Edward Shillito) **Proverbs 3:5,6 ***2 Kings 5:1-27

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