I had postponed the trip to Oxnard and Ventura because of the pain from that season. I figured it was going to be a knuckle-buster of a goodbye. In addition to the high pain level of that chapter, back then I had not even a clue about inner healing. I just applied the “geographic cure” and ran away every time I made a mess bigger than I could tolerate.
And THAT is how we ended up in Oxnard. My life had unraveled badly in Orange County, so I took my wife and young son and fled to the coast. At that time, I was still DID, had all 14 of the seven curses, and had a whole herd of Leviathans that traveled with me, all the time, at no extra charge.
Also a formidable case of brain rot!
I came into the SLG office Sunday morning and did a small bit of work on a project that was behind, then settled into the drive NW. I opted to go via Highway 1, thinking that beach traffic on Sunday morning would be light enough to keep moving. I was wrong. Cars were sparse, but bikes — adorned with ginormous egos wrapped in brightly colored spandex — were swarming.
The attractively funky architecture in Santa Monica amused me again, as it always has. And I smiled unexpectedly while driving past Pepperdine. They have an elegant campus with acres of fiercely protected, carefully manicured lawn, which is pockmarked by gopher piles!
Put gophers in that list of things beginning with the common cold, that science and wealth have not quite subdued.
I love the feel of the land and the visual structures around Point Mugu. I have often wondered about the NAS there. I’ll bet they draw some treasures from the land, without knowing about the redemptive gifts.
I shouted over the Seabees’ motto, long forgotten, painted across the front of their highest building in Port Hueneme: “Can do.”
Simple. Elegant. Comprehensive.
It was good to be away from the coastal rock formations and see the acres of greenhouses Oxnard is famous for.
I stayed on Highway 1 as I crossed over the 101. It was a pleasant drive through Old Town Saticoy. I did a lot of room additions in all of Ventura County, including that area and Santa Paula.
Eventually I turned left on 118 and then left again on Telegraph Road, heading toward Ventura through the massive lemon orchards, crowding the road. Two years ago, it was a $266 million crop for the county.
Ventura was almost unrecognizable to me after 35 years. There was such an abundance of new buildings with a different look and feel. I opted for Thompson Blvd when I ran out of road on Telegraph, and eventually pulled over at Plaza Park.
It was a cross section of society: signs abounded forbidding smoking. Homeless people visited on the NW corner while young moms and dads swung their tots in the playground. The older youngsters clambered around a piece of artillery that seemed ludicrously out of place, next to the nanny-state “No smoking” signs.
I settled onto the park bench, far from the social groups, and allowed my mind to roam through the two short years we were there.
I was shocked as I took inventory of how bad it really was. I came there with over-the-top pain, and the pounding was unrelenting.
-The doctor who delivered Desiree and botched it so badly.
-Both my bosses.
-The credit union.
I have language for some things now. My first boss had a horrific case of the negative sixth head of Leviathan, as did I. The two of us were an awful combination.
The flu through the whole family at Christmas. Midianite Curse.
The landlord who lost in court and still won. Aramean Curse.
When you are in such high pain all the time, all over, individual pains fail to define themselves. Looking back from a little wider spot in the road, I hurt all over for our family that was hurting all over in that season.
After wobbling under the weight of that for a while, Jesus began to put small frames around different snapshots.
In the room addition company, everything took too long. The 90 day job didn’t get finished for 150 days, if then. I saw the exponential impact of Leviathan in turning a simple job into a trudge through gumbo.
Jesus calmly observed that it was quite remarkable that my boss could keep the company afloat when labor costs averaged 400% of what was normal and budgeted.
Desiree could have died in childbirth. The doctors told us she might be somewhat retarded. In later years we joked about how glad we were that she had been retarded because none of us could have stood it if she was any smarter than she is now.
Jesus also pointed out that Ann eventually recovered completely from the malpractice.
Painful, unjust, demonically manipulated, but not devastating in the long run.
And from there a picture emerged of His being there, in all the craziness, with all my brokenness and critters, tempering each situation, and protecting me from myself (no small feat) and from the critters inside and outside me.
I started a church while I was there. I went to the denominational authorities first and got their blessing, with the assurance they had nothing at all going on in that region, nor any plans.
In a twist of classic church politics, a week after the church officially began meeting, I was informed that a highly qualified pastor was going to be sent to take over the church — that would continue meeting in my living room.
Jesus observed in a very kind way, that based on the qualifications of an elder, on a scale of 1 to 10, I was at about -17 right then.
I knew it was true.
Clearly He had saved me from who knows what kind of travesty, by allowing me to go through the smaller pain of having someone else take my “baby” away from me. I definitely had no grasp of stewarding the King’s subjects back then.
It was a profoundly therapeutic time in the park. Jesus did not deny the pain or the injustice or the irrationality of anything I was remembering. He just reframed each one, showing how He buffered me, kept me afloat, taught me some things, in spite of myself.
I left there dramatically transformed, but puzzling over the question of “Why Oxnard and Ventura?” I am sure He brought us there for some positive reasons. I was running, and there were a lot of places to run to. I was sure I had received something there that was a huge, a significant gift, given to me right under the nose of the devil who was trashing me.
I left the park and drove into Old Town Ventura, marveling at how few landmarks were still there. I flirted with taking a swing through Ojai and decided not to.
South to Oxnard, puzzling on the question: what was the treasure?
I made my way to Ketch Ave. and walked up and down the street where we lived for a while. None of the bad memories followed me, just the question.
Hoping for inspiration, I wandered over to the Marina, parked and walked. There was an absolute dearth of seats, obviously intentionally. Instead, I cruised by the ocean front houses, where I had logged a LOT of hours, still gnawing.
Then lunch. The Santa Barbara Cobb salad was delicious, but rendered no inspiration.
I realized that I would just have to trust God on this one. He had vastly increased my trust in Him as we looked at the pain together. I could now look at all the dark stuff through the clarity of sight. I would embrace the unnamed gift, through the eyes of faith.
I had remarkable closure by the time I dumped my trash at The Habit.
I wandered home a different way, more savoring than pondering, as I slogged through the traffic on 101, 405, 105, 605, 91, exiting at Magnolia.
It was a remarkable piece of healing from a chapter of my life that had mocked me and dared me to try to get closure, assuring me I would be best off letting bygones be bygones.
Unless you serve the Lord of Reconciliation.
Copyright July 2018 by Arthur Burk