Moments of Vulnerability and a Glimpse of Grace

Four days ago, I had surgery to correct a muscle issue in my throat. The easiest way to describe it is as a misplaced hernia. The muscles opened in one spot to permit a pouch to form.

No one knows why it happens, only that it does occasionally, and usually in men. It could be sports related, as my two passions—surfing and road cycling—both require the neck to remain taut in an upraised position for long periods. It is now eight o’clock at night, and my energy has returned in a surprise wavelet, really no predictable pattern to this at all. I was up at around six this morning as usual, worked for ninety minutes, and was left in a fog for hours.

The surgery went well, but apparently it was a good deal more involved than they had initially thought. My neck and upper chest areas remain very sore. Swallowing anything is such a chore. Isabella made me a massive pot of chicken soup which I have ground to mulch, and taking small spoonfulls I’m able to down half a bowl at a time. I don’t really mind it too much, to be honest. The entire hospital experience has had the feeling of a very intense spiritual gift.

Leaving the hospital after the preliminary meeting with the doctor last week (up until then, everything had been arranged by email and phone from the US), I had a very powerful sense of being close to God. Such moments have of course come in the past, but there was a particular edge to this one. I felt so intensely vulnerable, which was odd, because I’d just been told the operation would not be severe, and my overall health has been great. But entering the hospital’s underground parking garage, I had this one fleeting moment of glimpsing beyond the visit and this operation and this time of good health–to the beyond.

For a split second I was able to look out to when health is no more, and my days are completed, and the breath is gone, and life is given back to the giver of all. I almost broke down and wept in the parking lot. There was nothing particularly frightening about the experience. Rather, I wished I could somehow remain this close to God all the time.

Which of course I can’t. And so I left the parking garage and went to the Starbucks and had a coffee and read the paper. I felt very inadequate, and wished I could appreciate more, and have greater compassion for those in pain or in fear. And yet God loved me even with all these failings, enough to turn a simple doctor’s visit into a glimpse of the hereafter.

Everything I’ve been through since then has been two-sided. On the one hand, the operation was really intense, and the pain has been pretty harsh, and because they had to mash my tongue down hard to get the second instrument down, it compressed the nerve and half of my tongue and mouth have been numb since the operation. I have no taste, no feeling, nothing. The muscles at the back had to be cut a bit in order to relieve the strain on the entire passage, and I have also lost my voice. I am still only managing a whisper, and even that hurts quite a lot.

And yet, it really is all so minor. I have these flashes of worry, about the film’s p&a budget and the 2013 publishing schedule and my writing and when I can return to the current project… And then there are these other moments when I am back again in the parking garage, standing there beside my car, and knowing that I am not alone in that dark cold place. The feeling of being surrounded by an overwhelming gift of love remains with me still.

17 Responses to “Moments of Vulnerability and a Glimpse of Grace”

  1. Carolyn Johnson says:

    Davis, what a beautiful account of your experience. I’d never heard of something like that happening, and am so sorry you had to go through that kind of surgery. But I’ll not forget your experience beside your car in the parking garage. Thank you for sharing it with us! And please let us know how you are recovering.

  2. Rachel Ann Rogish says:

    Your honesty is refreshing! Thank you for being willing to share what our Heavenly Father brought into your life, and for resting in His divine sovereignty. I waas blessed by what you wrote. A few years ago I went through some deep emotional waters myself, and I remember feelings very alone and vunerable. But now, as I look back, I was never alone. Thank you for being open about your experience. May your healing be swift!

  3. Betsy Cooper says:

    I am in awe of this account of your entire experience concerning this surgery. Having recently been through a though time myself due to achilles tendon surgery and recovery, I have a bit of empathy here. I will pray for your recovery daily, Davis. I will have to say that it takes an account like this (the surgery part) to remember that there is always someone out there going through something worse that what I am going through. The moment that you experienced in the garage was totally incredible. Thank you so much for sharing it and for being the person that you are. I know that you will keep us posted as you recover. Blessings and Godspeed!!

  4. Pat Walker Barta says:

    I love how our Lord God can take an experience like this and turn it into a crystalizing moment of His grace and His love for us. Thank you for sharing. May our God continue to bless you and guide you.

  5. Gary says:

    Thanks for the picture of His presence. I remember a similar incidence of His presence in a plane. All seats around me were empty, and He sat down in my seat with me. Stayed that way for about 38 hours. Wow! Enjoy all of it, you will never forget it. Just a flashing thought of it and you will be right back in that place – I promise. Blessings.

  6. Antoinette Warner says:

    Davis, I am touched by your blog regarding your surgery and, in particular, your moment in the parking garage. Thank you for sharing your intimate story with us. Such moments bring us closer to God as we become aware of His presence during our most vulnerable times. The assurance that He is there, that He cares, and that whatever the future brings we are content to stay here or go to Him, as He wills. That sort of vulnerability is frightening and yet comforting. You are in my prayers for a speedy and complete recovery. Antoinette

  7. Melinda Doran says:

    Davis, that was very touching! We all know God is there for us, but sometimes it’s so awesome when He gives us an extra ‘moment’ with Him, even if it’s short. Thanks for sharing that! Get better soon. Blessings, Melinda.

  8. Hello, dear brother! Your post touched my heart…just wanted to tell you. Love that you’re sensitive to God’s presence. A true gift, for sure. Best regards to Isabella, as well. Blessings for a swift recovery–can’t wait to hear more about the movie.

  9. Patsy Young says:

    Davis, I wish you a speedy recovery. A lot of prayers going up for you, Isabella’s chicken soup and tender loving care and you will be up and writing again in no time. Thank you for sharing your experience in the parking garage. It is very obvious by this experience and in your writing that you are a man in close fellowship with our Lord. He has given you a very special gift. Always stay true to Him.

  10. Shari Bradley says:

    So glad to hear that your procedure went well, though very sorry to hear of your residual difficulties. Praying all those symptoms will soon abate and leave you feeling like yourself in no time at all. My daughter had a similar experience going in for one of her three cardiac catheterizations at age 13. Long story, but she describes a moment in the car on the way to the hospital where she truly felt carried and unafraid of what she faced. Once while on a frighteningly bumpy flight from California to Florida, I heard a voice tell me “You will be okay.” Heard it more distinctly than ever before or since. I treasure that little bit of knowledge that I am loved. So glad you have your own special moment to carry – may it continue to buoy you as you make your way through the recovery process.

  11. Scott Smith says:

    Davis, I will be praying for your recovery brother. I can empathize with you being on a pureed/mechanical soft diet as you heal. Praying for a speedy full recovery in terms of muscle strength and range of motion for speech and swallowing.

    I so appreciate the gift of written word that God has given you. My absolute favorite work of fiction was written by you — “One Shenandoah Winter.” As a speech-language pathologist, and professional in the medical field I can very much relate to the main character, physician Nathan Reynolds, and his nemesis, cancer. When working in pediatrics, my nemesis was Autism. And now that I work in geriatrics, my nemesis is Alzheimer’s Disease. However, just within the past 2 weeks, God has given me a peace that I am making a difference in this fight, and that it is in providing loving,compassionate care in the face of these dear ones’ last days. This adds honor and dignity to the end of their lives. This is a gift worthy of taking to the Master.

  12. Brother Bunn – you should be eating Ice Cream to soothe your throat pain!
    Our Heavenly Father knows your pain and suffering, and He will comfort you.
    You have done so much good in His name. As you recline, be confident that it is in the palm of His hand. Remember, it is for what we sacrifice here on Earth, that we are rewarded for in Heaven. You have made many sacrifices.
    Your stories touch so many hearts. Thank you, Your Brother Bill

  13. Mary Kay says:

    Thank you, Davis. I’m sorry you’re experiencing such post-surgical challenges, and very grateful God, in His loving way, is providing intense grace moments to comfort and encourage you through this recovery time. Your sharing them with us is a gift. Praying for a thorough recovery, and the constant comfort of remembering His presence and grace.

  14. Davis: Thank you for sharing that moment of time in the life of Davis Bunn.
    As I read your writing it was like I was sharing your hospital experience,
    even in the basement ~ like a stillness & thinning veil…? My prayers are
    with you and my wife said if you went to Starbucks, you’ll be OK! HA! And
    greetings from Oklahoma…Larry Taylor

  15. “For we know that when this tent we live in—our body here on earth—is torn down, God will have a house in heaven for us to live in, a home he himself has made, which will last forever. And now we sigh, so great is our desire that our home which comes from heaven should be put on over us; by being clothed with it we shall not be without a body. While we live in this earthly tent, we groan with a feeling of oppression; it is not that we want to get rid of our earthly body, but that we want to have the heavenly one put on over us, so that what is mortal will be transformed by life. God is the one who has prepared us for this change, and he gave us his Spirit as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us. So we are always full of courage. We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’s home. For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight.” 2Co 5:1 – 7 GNB

    Well, Davis, you have had a rather humbling experience. As a 9/11 survivor, resuscitated twice, I too had “a glimpse of the hereafter” at 62. Today, those experiences and lessons are real, causing me to be thankful for every breath and iota of love from family and friends. That tent, “made without hands” is looking better every day.

    May He continue to inspire you in your writing.

    Dave Wade

  16. Davis:

    Like all who wrote here, your post on your hospital/parking garage experience touched me at a profound level. It was an honor to read such a personal account of this fundamental marker in your life.

    My first thought: “God will use this in his writing soon.”
    My second thought: “He writes as beautifully in a blog post as he does in his books.”
    My third thought: “This reminds me of being in ER.”

    Let me share a similar experience. I fell down our stairs in January in a bizarre way that could have broken my neck and hips; neither occurred. On the way down, though, I crashed against the corner of a wall and cut my head open, leaving a bloody trail on wood floor and carpet. Yet instead of crumpling into a heap at the bottom of the stairs, I felt gently pulled forward, unseen hands laying me gently on the floor, stretched out safely on my side.

    Later in the hospital, the ER staff cleaned the wound and told me to rest until the doctor came. I closed my eyes and immediately felt Jesus standing right behind me, His hands softly touching either side of my head. Almost audibly, I heard the words, “You are healed!” in my spirit. His touch, like the brush of butterfly wings against my scalp, caused warmth and peace to flow in and through me, spreading everywhere in my body. Then He was gone. Moments later the surgeon came in, and after getting ten stitches, I was home and in no pain, although I sustained a concussion.

    As the Lord healed me in the hospital that day, He chose to profoundly show me His presence, leaving me humbled and in awe. I realized later that every bit of that experience prepared me for what soon became new opportunities and ministry, as if the incident on the stairs was part of God’s road map for me.

    Your blog post sweetly reminded me of that encounter. As I read it I sensed that you are being prepared for your next steps, as well. Recovery from surgery takes awhile, but even in such circumstances, God teaches and heals and renews. I suspect you will now experience new energy and focus in your writing, and more continued awareness of the precious relationship you have with Christ which fuels it. We, your readers, will be the beneficiaries!

    Thank you for sharing your personal journey with us so openly.

    Blessings from the Pacific Northwest,
    Sarah Gunning Moser

  17. Davis,
    Thank you for sharing. I pray for your speedy recovery.

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