Two weeks ago, I was in Switzerland, gifted (literally) with a retreat for the women in our organization. Even as a writer, it’s hard to find words to sum up the time. Stunning comes the closest to describe the experience on all fronts: physically, relationally, spiritually.
One morning I walked to Burgruine Unspunen, old castle ruins from 1232 situated not far from our accommodation:
I was there alone and gleefully poked around the various ‘rooms’, all the while marveling at the surrounding alps, the gentle jangle of the cowbells ringing out over all. And then I saw this:
A well, I assume. Such a foreboding sight in an otherwise uplifting setting. Imagine ending up there, I thought, peering down so long I creeped myself out. That shot of the well is the one un-pretty picture I took from my jaunt in Switzerland.
I came home late Friday night, eager to show my family the other photos, the aqua blue glacier fed lakes, the grassy green foothills, the snow-capped alps.
But the next morning I felt as If I had fallen – no, I felt as if I was falling into that well, never to be caught. The dizziness didn’t end. The nausea didn’t cease. It went on and on and on and on and on…
Vertigo, is what it’s been labeled after visiting two GP visits and one Chiropractor. (whether it’s the standard ‘ear crystal’ type or due to fluids/blockage in my ears I don’t know. I’m improving slowly. Slooooowly.)
Whatever it is and whatever is causing it, I have never experienced anything like it before. Unless I was lying down, I was falling, or so it seemed, careening off those gorgeous mountains I had just experienced into a dark, hard, and frightening place.
You can do a lot of thinking and praying and writing in your head lying flat on your back. Over the past 13 days, I spoke certain words and phrases into my phone, or scratched them in my journal, and eventually cobbled this poem.
I’m sharing it because although circumstances differ, I know I’m surrounded by others who are experiencing their own sense of vertigo, whether it be physical, relational, spiritual, or emotional. Who hasn’t been jarred, exasperated, perhaps exhausted by life’s highs and lows?
Jesus has known the highest high and the lowest low; he empathizes like no other. God is with us in both.
And while nobody welcomes it, falling causes us to instinctively reach out and grab something – or rather someone – who is constant and certain, faithful and true.
You lift me high,
Up to the peaks in a Swiss alp sky,
where fear gets a thrashing and anxiety dies,
grace rolls like green hills and hope multiplies
as what lay buried stands up alive.
You bring me low,
Down to the end of myself I go,
to the grave of my doing,
past the tantrum of my soul
where pride lays in pieces and my mind seeks to know
your heart so wounded,
your death crushed soul.
From heaven you came to the belly of the low
To be raised on a tree, to the grave to go.
Death sneered for two nights
to be trampled on the third,
my God did not forsake you
my God so loved the world.
You’re in the sunshine
you’re in shade.
You bring the stillness
you bring the waves
that crash me to your shelter and pin me to your side,
Shepherd of the struck-down low
High King of the skies.
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