November 5, 2015

Creative Nonfiction By Jennifer Waters: "Christina The Astonishing"

Jennifer Waters was born and raised in Michigan and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She has been going to college on and off (beginning as a liberal arts major and ending now in social and behavioral sciences) since 2003. I has had two pieces of poetry published as well as a monologue.

The Angel of Peace by Walter Crane

Christina the Astonishing
"I am Christina the Astonishing

I am from Belgium

I am remembered for my faith and my violent fits of ecstasy

I am the patron saint of insanity and lunatics

I died but came back to life

Psalm 102 is attributed to me

It is the prayer of the afflicted

For my days vanish like smoke

I am like an owl in the desert among the ruins

I have mingled my drink with weeping

And my days are like a shadow
Pray for me."

Tonight, I sat wrestling with God. It has been a long time since we have battled. I had turned away from Him in disbelief and settled in my darkness alone. Just a few short hours ago, I sat crying and asking 'why me?'. The room filled with questions that began with 'why'. It stifled me. I had gone to stand up and my legs felt strange - a feeling I have had before, but never so intense or for so long. The feeling has not gone away in this moment, but something else has happened. I begged God to comfort me, to soothe me, to help me focus on Him. I asked Him what He wanted from me, how long my punishment would last. I told Him out loud that I would do anything if He would take away this suffering that I fear will be the end of me.

I decided to go up to my bedroom which I have not set foot in since 4 days ago. I told myself I would go up there and pray with my rosary. I needed to be alone with the God I hadn't believed in lately. I needed to find Him again. And I needed Him to find me.

It took some time to gather my things, and carrying everything up in one trip was no easy task, especially as I felt the ground, like the ocean waves, moving up and down beneath me, forcing me to question gravity and my place on this Earth. I made it upstairs eventually and went to my bed. I was so relieved that I had accomplished the seemingly impossible task of getting everything together that I completely forgot why I wanted to come to my bedroom in the first place. I decided to close my eyes and go to sleep. Oh no, I thought. My water bottle is not next to me. I have to get it.  I reached for the bottle and began to place it on my nightstand. I needed to move a book out of the way to make room. To my surprise, underneath the book was my rosary. Ah, yes, I thought. This is why I came here in the first place. Is this God's way of reminding me?

I took my rosary in my hands and began to pray. I prayed even as my hands locked up. They have been locking up for hours now, and I do not know why, but I must try to continue to pray. I did until I could not any longer. I searched the eyes on my rosary for answers. I looked at each bead and begged for one of the sparkling crystals to tell me what to do. I held Jesus close to my heart and asked Him to be with me. I hung the rosary on the switch of the tall lamp next to my bed where I could see it and close enough to where I could reach out and touch it. I wanted to go to sleep now, but I wanted my eyes on Jesus and His on me. As I hung the rosary, all of the beads neat, straight, the crucifix at the bottom swayed and turned away from me. I tried to will it to face me, but to no avail. You are turning away from me as I have turned away from you, I thought. In the next moment, I thought something different: maybe this is Jesus asking me to adjust my direction to Him instead of asking Him, yet again, to come to me. But how does that make sense? If I get into a position where I am facing the face of Jesus on my rosary, I will be laying at the wrong end of my bed. I decided not to move and turned off the light. Panic and anxiety started to set in as I restlessly moved under the covers, unable to sleep. My breathing got more and more shallow as it became faster, and I began to hyperventilate. Terrified at the feelings of too much oxygen and not enough carbon dioxide, I jumped out of bed and fell to my knees to pray. I put my head on the floor for a moment, but it became uncomfortable. I tried to take in deep breaths, to tell myself that everything was okay. I tried to fight my fear. Suddenly, I could breathe. I could take in a full breath and satisfy my lungs and the rest of my body. Still on my knees, I turned around to head back to my bed. I realized that the rosary was now directly facing me. Jesus had His eyes on me, but I needed to get to my knees on the floor for it to happen. I crawled closer to Him, reached out and touched the crucifix. I prayed again. Fearfully, I stood up and got into bed, knowing that the rosary would again no longer be facing me once I got into a sleeping position. It is okay, I told myself. It is okay.

Sitting here now, physically, nothing has changed. My hands continue to go numb and lock up, forcing me to stop typing. My legs still feel strange, and I am afraid to stand. My muscles are weak and my eyelids are heavy. Determined to write this blog, I took my time and typed through the discomfort and the huge force that I feel is against me. I would not normally do this until the crisis had passed. I would not speak of God until He took the pain away from me. I would not praise His name if I were still feeling so desperate. I do not know what is different about this night or these feelings. I am still so afraid, so confused, and there is so much I do not know.

What I do know is that Jesus forced me to my knees tonight in order to fix my eyes on Him. What I do know is that in my desperation and fear, I stopped to turn around, and I saw Him. He was behind me the whole time. He was waiting for me, but I had to make some effort too.

My rosary is still hanging near me, facing the other end of my bedroom. It is within my reach, and every few seconds, I stop typing to look at it. Something inside of me is still hoping I will look over and see those eyes on me. Now, I know better than to think that will happen. I have to meet Him half way. He was there the whole time, but I just needed to get up and move to see that.

I'll try to close my eyes now. I'll pray for a better tomorrow. I'll thank God again for physically getting me on the ground, as frightening as it was in the moment. I'll shed some tears for Jesus Christ, who suffered for me.

I'll try to remember this moment and this experience because something tells me I will find myself here again. But the next time, I will reach for Him sooner. I will know what to do, and I will move toward Him. He will be there, and I can only pray that He will take care of me. I can think of one million reasons why He shouldn't, but I will pray that He does.

Like Christina the Astonishing, in my mind, I secretly ask the world... 

...Pray for Me. 

~Jennifer Waters 

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