He put the headphones on and asked if the volume was loud enough. It wasn’t, so he turned it up a bit more. After draping a warm, preheated blanket over my hospital gown clad body, he left the room and shut the door. From behind a window he maneuvered the controls, and I felt my body move slowly into the plastic tunnel.
I thought to myself, “If I were a large person I wouldn’t fit in here.” I could feel my arms against the plastic, see my nose just a few inches away from the top of the tunnel.
The music played in my ears. Josh Groban singing O Holy Night – the voice of an angel ringing in my ears.
I was warm. The blanket was meant to keep me warm, but I could feel my hands warming almost too quickly, as if they might start sweating at any time. Three vents directly above my eyes blasted cool air at my face, drying out my eyes and tickling my nose. I wondered if my whole body was in the tunnel, or if my feet, covered with Valentine’s Day themed socks stuck out at the end, like the Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz.
There was a bright light coming from behind my head. It was so bright that it cast a dark shadow, the outline of my forehead and nose, on the beige plastic. I entertained myself by watching the shadow move as I wiggled my nose.
And then the banging began. The jack-hammer noises from somewhere beneath, or beside, or above. It was impossible to know from where the sound came. Suddenly the music in the headphones was not loud enough, I could barely hear it. All I could hear, in my ears, in my mind, in my body, was the pow pow pow pow sound coming from the machine.
The banging stopped for a few moments. Christmas music in my ears once again, “…the most famous reindeer of all…” I would normally tap my feet to the sound of happy music, but I’d been given strict instructions to stay completely still.
As the banging started up again, this time a rhythmic bang bang bang, my soul was pricked as I considered how unnatural it feels to be completely still. And not only physically, but spiritually as well.
He tells me to be still. To “Be still and know that I am God.”
But I am rarely still. And almost never completely still.
Instead I’m on the move. Going about my daily life, aware of His presence. Thinking on good things. Praying, worshiping even. But not still. And not quiet.
And yet He demands my stillness for a reason. “But what reason, Lord?” I ask in silence, the jack hammer still banging away around me, and yet somehow I barely notice it. There is no answer. No “still small voice” and no brilliant epiphany. I lay there in silence. Still. With a noise around me that is so loud it shakes my insides. And I hear nothing.
And then, a stirring in my heart, an unsettling thought. Perhaps He asks me to be completely still before Him because when I am not I am, on some level, distracted and not completely focused on Him.
The banging stopped again, but by this time I didn’t even try to pay attention to what Christmas song was playing in my ears. I knew the jack hammer wasn’t done, and that more pow pow powing, or bang bang banging was eminent. I laid on that narrow table, inside a plastic tunnel, completely still.
For forty minutes the cycle continued. It wasn’t until I felt my body moving back out of the tunnel that I knew it was over. As I watched the end of the plastic tunnel come closer I whispered a silent prayer of thankfulness that I am not terribly claustrophobic, otherwise I would never have survived the forty minutes. “It took another MRI to get me to be still before You, didn’t it?” I thought, somewhat sarcastically.
But it’s true. This was my third MRI in 9 1/2 years.
My dad used to tell me, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way, it’s up to you,” meaning, my dad was in control and I could obey (the easy way) or I could rebel, be punished, and do it anyway (the hard way).
Lord, I’m ready to learn how to be still before you the easy way.
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