The weather this week in Ojai was served hot, with a generous side of swelter. The normal caveat to Ojai’s hot summer days “…it’s a dry heat” was absent from this week’s temperature menu. But triple digit days and Mississippi nights did not deter Aaron from visiting Ojai. This is summer camp week, a big week for the youth at OVWC. Last year, Aaron, Natalie, Michaela, and Christopher accompanied the gang to camp and returned hoarse, muddy, exhausted and looking forward to doing it again this year. But that was when the world was different, when plans were made, when the future maintained the illusion of predictability.
Aaron shared at Sunday morning service a bit of his hospital sojourn from his [highly altered] perspective. Beginning the third day after the ambulance trip to UCLA, the events lodged in Aaron’s memory bear no semblance to those in the records kept by the staff at UCLA and which might generally be confirmed by any even marginally sane witness. Aaron’s remembered events do not begin to intersect with reality until several days after leaving the ICU.
But while the events of Aaron’s alternate reality involve such bizarre thrills as being chopped in two, turned into a mosquito, and living in the cafeteria, recalled events do not constitute our most important memories. For the important ones, Aaron’s memory severed him well (perhaps the hallucinations actually did serve him well, if not accurately).
The copious and powerful narcotics could blunt his pain and alter his reality, but there was no alternate reality that was not painful, filled with suffering, and relentlessly miserable. Aaron remembers suffering; the memory of continuous misery is clear and doubtless.
Yet for all the affliction, there is also a memory of that which the enemy’s most miserable and twisted nightmare could not extinguish; there is the memory of hope. Never was there a moment when Aaron was not hopeful. That the light of hope should burst from the dark of misery and triumph over the darkness is the stuff of legend, fable, and Divine grace.
Monday morning, Tommy and lovely bride Vanessa, on staff at “competitor” church CLC and filling in for Aaron and Natalie as OVWC youth pastor (While the title is singular, it is only singular in the context of two becoming one.) pro tem pile into the caravan with the kids and head for camp. Aaron tried to make it to the staging area at OVWC to bid adieu, but his body wouldn’t cooperate.
His body being more cooperative later in the week, he did make it on Friday evening to greet them on their 4 hour late return, they having crawled from San Diego through Los Angeles in the Friday afternoon “Getaway”.