Context really DOES matter…

How could this possibly be good?

Over the years, I’ve come to trust Alick implicitly. But that doesn’t mean I always understand where he’s pointing me. At first, after I had settled down, explained myself as best I could and listened to his first thoughts which were something like, “This is great news! God is doing something really special in you right now…” I was taken aback. But I quickly recognized the profound truth of what he was saying.

Something in me knew this was “good”. Well, necessary. This was catharsis. It was a healing. A bone being set, a joint being put back into place. More precisely, it was the presenting symptom of an injury which had gone undiagnosed (really just ignored by me) for too long and was now demanding attention.

Alick went on to walk me through the process he felt was under way. The losses of the last few years had accumulated to such an extent that they began to pull away at my personal coping mechanisms, one could really say my “personality”. All the things we each depend on to navigate our world, the things we tell ourselves and come to believe, the things we seek reinforcement from others for, the lies and truths that make up who have become and how everyone around us expects us to be. Like a landslide, when the weight of that loss got great enough, it sloughed away, pulling with it all the tools I had come to depend on to make it in life.

The accumulated losses collapsed and carried with them the topsoil, trees and plants of who I am, exposing the bare earth beneath. Seen by itself, with no context, this is a disaster. But Alick did what he does, and lifted my vision to the bigger picture.

Context of 2014 Oso Landslide

When you see the site of the Oso landslide from up close, it’s hard to imagine anything but the enormity of the event. It’s monstrous. It killed 43 of God’s children. There is no way to see it as less than a tragedy…from up close, because it IS a tragedy.

But from 8 years later and several thousand feet in the air, you can ALSO see something else. In the larger context: you see the Stillaguamish river remaking the valley. You see fertile soils being deposited on the flats. you see space being opened for new growth. You see the (largely) natural processes of erosion and fluid dynamics, the water cycle, geology and basic physics on display…and it is…in its own way and its own context…wondrous.

This was going to hurt. It already hurt (and honestly, it continues) but with a larger context in mind, with the idea that God was doing something, that something new was coming, that something broken was being healed and that, though painful, all the “natural processes of life were at work”, I felt I could hang on.

I left that meeting feeling better. A glimmer of hope. But there were still the losses to recognize, to name and to confront. The landslide wasn’t over.

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