Sunday, August 20, 2006


My wife and I got to hear two sermons this morning. The first was given by our son, his first in a church where he has recently been hired as an assistant minister. The second sermon was at the church we regularly attend. It was about when a man named Lazarus back to life, after having been in his tomb for four days (John 11, in the Bible). The preacher invited each of us to come out of our tombs, to come back from the dead, and experience a new kind of life. His words reminded me of a poem I wrote a number of years ago, titled "Caves". The poem tells about the horror I experienced when my father would put me in the family laundry barrel and hold the lid on tightly. I'm still on my journey of coming out of my cave and coming back to life. As part of my journey I recently walked into my parents' laundry room and spent some time looking at their laundry barrel. I took some pictures of it. I've included one with this post. The laundry barrel doesn't frighten me as it used to. But other things, similar to that barrel, still have some power over me. I'm working at walking out of those tombs also.

Here is the poem:


When I was a child
I was put in a cave
the door was held shut.
I panicked, in a daze.

I could not get free
though the doorkeeper was near.
I begged to get out,
but it fell on deaf ears.

The stifling darkness
stabbed me with fright.
I needed fresh air,
I was desperate for light.

My Hero also was put in a cave
just as he’d said,
his cave filled with darkness
of death—he was dead.

And there in my cave
it was deathly too.
I really didn’t know
if I’d make it through.

My Hero came back alive,
He walked across his cave’s floor.
His father was loving
and opened the door.

I pled for release
from where I’d been shoved.
My door, too, finally opened
but not out of love.

One cave was opened by a father
who loved his son, with pride,
mine by another,
with his own darkness inside

himself—locking me in the cave
still baffles me
but I’m learning to live
in the light since I’m freed.

Whenever I enter a cave
this is something I’ve found,
that caves ultimately open
although darkness surrounds.

My Hero and I both greeted the light,
the contrast with our caves was stark.
Outside there was freedom, freedom at last,
and welcome release from the dark!

I still fear dark caves,
I'm scared of tight doors.
But I know that my Hero
has been there before.

Thank you, my Hero,
for leading the way
from darkness to light
so I can live in the day
as well as the night.

(from my poetry booklet, available as a free download, starting on page 8)


Blogger Marj aka Thriver said...

I just think it's amazing the things you write about. I really have just begun to write things (especially poetry) about issues in my life. I've really whittled down the list of triggers that still bother me from my trauma, but one that just drives me crazy is trying to fall asleep when there's no air circulating and it's really quiet. It reminds me of your cave imagery. I've always said, under those circumstances, that I can't get comfortable and I'm scared because, "it feels like I'm in a tomb." Weird.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow - Powerful connection


5:28 PM  
Blogger Al Johnson said...

I'm scared because, "it feels like I'm in a tomb." Weird.

It doesn't sound weird to me, Marj. It sounds like you're normal and need to feel the safety of that air flowing.

I freak out in MRI machines. Just give me all the sedatives you can, nurses. Even then it's difficult to stay in the machine while they take all the needed pictures. It's too claustrophic in there. I feel stuck.

10:59 PM  

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