Primitive Ritual Redux

Image courtesy of Nicolas Raymond, CC BY 3.0

(a peculiar account of a recent experience)

"Agreed!" chants the small circle of eyes,
the sound floats upon a drone of rushing air,
reverberating off the sides
of the strange chamber,
magnified by my rising adrenaline.

Earlier required to disrobe and
don their specially designed ritual robe.
Embarrassment gave way to anxiety as
a ceremonial cap was stretched over my head,
mask placed over my flush, blushing face,
hid my identity, my shame, and my dread.

Then atop a rolling restaurant cart, 
bars on the sides held me in place,
served also as handles for my escort,
an odd waiter, delivering me to a party
of five at a table in a private room,
while mumbling reassurances from behind
a mask, meant to mollify the mind.

Even here I know my God is with me 
whatever happens 
is part of His plan, thankfully, He
has brought me to this place.

Now, from my vantage point,
strapped securely
to a table-like structure,
I can only hear voices -
voices and strange sounds.

But I remember their faceless eyes, 
three men and two women, 
draped in matching green raiment.
"Why so many, grandmother?" I asked.
"All the better to bill you," she replied,
in a wry, falsetto voice. Thankfully,
they didn't appear to have heard her reply.

The leader, dark complexioned
with an Indian accent, draws near.
I feel the sharp, hard stings
of a persistent, angry yellow-jacket,
injecting a merciful venom.

Eyes dance 
from tile to metal to plastic, 
nothing soft dwells here, 
clenched fists clutch
the air, stare, at nothing, sterile surfaces
ignore my stare.

He retreats in silence,
the venom takes hold,
as numbness grows, my skin grows cold.

He advances again, this time
holding a four inch long fourteen gauge
hollow needle (I know this
because I have read about this rite).

I hear the word "pinch" uttered,
but by contrast feel a deep stabbing
pain, my constant companion, grabbing,
zealous in his renewed affection for me,
as muscles become rigid, teeth clenched.

"Alright?" a calm voice questions 
with feigned concern in an Indian accent. 
"I'm OK," - a hoarse rasping voice
croaks assent.

Then the whirring of machines and motors,
a loud "beep" jars the air,
and the process repeats.
Stab! Whir. Beep! Stab! Whir. Beep!
Stab! Whir. Beep! I pray for time
to fast-forward, as I lose count.

The Indian accent mutters, "Pressure," and I,
by contrast feel mounting, revolting discomfort,
even as I am relieved knowing the end
nears. I recognize "done" among a jumble
of bland, hastily uttered words,
and soon I am rolling back
past the austere silent walls that observe
my departure with a cold reserve
that belies the cheerful chatter
of my masked maître d'.

Ice is applied for seven minutes, as I ponder why
not six, or eight? Was there a double
blind study with a control group, or as I
suspect, was seven considered lucky
by whoever wrote the procedure?

I don my own clothes once again, 
faceless eyes set in hairless heads bid goodbye, 
and I give thanks to my God for providing
yet another treatment that will subdue
the affections of my unwanted companion
for a few more months of relative sanity.

I reach the car, my wife asks how it went.
"Fine," I say, and so display
how a single word can hold so much,
but such small amount convey.


12:04 PM, August 17, 2020. My 21st caudal epidural steroid injection.


These treatments have become the mainstay of my pain management regimen, in combination with piles of medications, and other less medical, and yet still significant practices and disciplines. Without them I hate to consider where I would be, as was demonstrated recently when my treatment was delayed by several weeks due to COVID-19. And yet, the Lord used that experience to prove His very personal care for me (read here).

So now, rather than focus on where I would be without them, I choose to focus on where I am with Him, and to trust Him for my future care in all things medical and practical, in addition to spiritual. In His sovereignty, He can even work through things as primitive as modern medicine, if it pleases Him.

Regardless of our age or our health, this life is a vapor, and the gauze-like veil between time and eternity will soon be rent, our hourglass sand will all be spent, and we will face the One from whom our life was lent. For the few who knew Him now, our suffering will have been “light and momentary,” and we will enter into joy unspeakable and full of glory.

But for the many who knew Him not, clinging to their sin, the Bible tells a different story – one of unending pain and torment, contrasting with the pain I now endure by immeasurable degree and duration, a sort of inverse of the same divine alchemy that will transform my endless years of intractable pain into a light and momentary affliction.

Do you know Him? He is terrifyingly just, and will (and must) judge all sin, but He is also unimaginably full of love and rich in mercy, and has graciously made a way of forgiveness and reconciliation, before the day of judgment, through the atoning, substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the Son of God), who though sinless, was crucified for sin, went to the grave, and rose on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven, is enthroned in power, and is calling all men to cease our rebellion and find forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Him. Can you hear Him calling you?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Jesus Christ, as recorded in John, Chapter 3, verse 16

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 10, verse 13

© Craig Sabin 2020 All rights reserved

2 thoughts on “Primitive Ritual Redux

    1. Thank you so much Gary, it means a lot and I know the Lord honors your prayers. I also know there are many who have it worse than I and I pray that such as they might find encouragement if they should happen to stumble upon my blog. May God bless and strengthen you my friend, as you doubtlessly bear burdens that are your own also.

      Liked by 1 person

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