Stumbling through the belly of the whale.

At the height of my grief from my teenage brother’s death in 1990, I stumbled across a former lecturer at an event. He was an outstanding biblical scholar. It was some 12 months since we last met. We chatted briefly. I remember feeling totally bereft at that point in my life. I was like the biblical figure Jonah, in the belly of the whale as it were. The lecturer stopped, looked at me curiously asking, “What’s happened to you?” I briefed him and he was shocked. It wasn’t the answer he was expecting. He explained that he saw a different me. He could see that something in me had changed. It was as if the layers were peeled away. He was looking at the real me. It wasn’t the answer I was expecting! It was a powerful encounter.

He was right. Looking back, I didn’t know it at the time, but allowing myself to stay at ‘belly of the whale’ in all its agony and discomfort was a gift in disguise. I found myself. Before long I left my job and met my husband; both surprising and providential life choices.

Decades later, the whale’s belly beckoned once more. My teenage son’s suicide ideation and attempt crises overwhelm me. I abruptly end my career to face the horror of history repeating itself head on. In desperate search for assistance online, I stumble across Roses in the Ocean. Looking back, I see flickering light breaking through all-encompassing darkness. I didn’t know it at the time, but a random Google search would herald opportunity, growth and healing. A new vocation bids. I lead a simpler, quieter, fuller life and a more authentic me emerges.

Image by Alma Sheppard-Matsuo