An old adversary has returned to joust with me for the hand of victory. He is a black knight on a gray horse who rides at dusk with an entourage of mealy-mouthed knaves. His allegiance is to no one in particular, but his true identity is unmistakable.
Fear’s face is under the black helmet and behind the slotted visor. With massive hands he grips his lance and hoists the shield of deception. Behind his breastplate is a chest with no heart housing an unscrupulous soul.
For years I have wrestled with undiagnosed, physical pain. It started intermittently and became constant on March 19, 1982.
I have learned—the hard way mostly—what I can and cannot do. I can’t ride in a car for a long time; can’t lie on my right side; can’t sit next to my wife on the couch; can’t make up the bed (may be a blessing in disguise); can’t bag the grass when I mow; and can’t fold the clothes when they come out of the dryer. (I might be able to struggle through folding the clothes, but don’t you dare tell Dianne I said that).
But I also can’t sleep. Of all the twitching, wiggling, jerking, groaning, gritting, and flopping you’ve never seen the like. A few nights ago, even Braxie-the-dog raised up her head and stared at me with yellow eyes as if to say, “Would you quit moving?”
And you know what? There’s not much happening in my neighborhood at 3:00 AM. Getting up at that hour, half of the day has already happened by breakfast. I sometimes wonder if I ought to eat breakfast or if an early lunch would be more appropriate.
The normal, just-before-bedtime ritual is to swallow my vitamins, check the doors, set the alarm, and hurry toward my pillow. (I must get to bed no later than second place in order to claim my spot before Dianne and the dog begin encroaching).
But recently I have been accosted by the dark rider. As I contemplate lying down and the spasms that will certainly begin, the tossing, the dark room in the wee hours of the morning, and the clouds of fatigue, Fear lowers his lance and swings his mace. And I feel ill equipped to fight, standing there in my robe.
But fight I must, or be run through and bludgeoned.
King David said to Goliath, the giant, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. The Lord does not deliver by sword or spear; for the battle is the Lord’s” (I Sam. 17:45, 47).
My next post, “Gnarly Knaves,” describes the overcoming. See you then and there.