Leviathan – The Deep Swimmer

It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.—Job 41:31

I am well acquainted with Leviathan, a dark, hungry, angry and hateful energy that swims deep in my unconscious.  It is primordial, powerful, and I believe is connected to the demonic world, though not evil in itself.  It feeds and gets strength when I take my eyes off what my life is truly about.  It rises from the depths and grabs me and drags me under until I come up gasping for breath.

Leviathan is irrational, infantile, raging and very unintelligent.  It seeks to lash out to protect itself, or to flee. It feeds off fear and as I age I have learned from my own deep anxieties that are mostly hidden from view.  Well, that is, until something triggers it.  It can be blinding for a short time until I come up for breath.  I’m used to this happening and know its sudden appearance is out of my control.  However, it is never pleasant and always painful.  I experience it as broken glass in my chest with my heart moving counter clockwise.

Yesterday, Leviathan came up suddenly, bit me, and dragged me deep into my own inner hell.  I want to either fight, lash out, or run like hell for the nearest exit — yet there is no exit, and, how can I run from myself?  Before I went to bed I was able to breathe again and pray.  I was able to go to sleep but woke up 90 minutes earlier than normal.  Leviathan was hungry — looking for a snack — and my mind started churning out anxious fantasies to feed it.

So I found myself in a boat, on a roaring sea just trying to hold on.  I was starting to get very impatient with myself and this experience when I looked up and saw Jesus sitting there.  I guess I was in a half dream state where it is easy to enter a place that is in-between.  So he was sitting in the boat just looking at me.  He was gentle, his eyes compassionate and he reached out his hand to me.

At first, I did not respond, but then I reached out and clasped his hand.  He said only one small sentence:  “Mark I am with you.”  I got in and sat next to him and he put his arms around my shoulder, and we looked out at the waves and Leviathan swimming around us.  He did not say anything, we just sat in silence and I felt the grinding in my chest stop, and I felt Leviathan growing smaller and diving back into the deep, waiting for the next time.  I then decided to get up, make coffee and do my Lectio.

Each time I go through this, I have to learn again to trust and not to fear this experience.  It is something I can’t figure out and like many, I have to find a way to deal with this demonic aspect of my unconscious.  I do know one thing, it does lead me to make renewed acts of trust in God’s love and presence in my soul, and I believe each time I do experience some sort of deep healing.  I just wish it was not slow to recover.

As I was walking around our cloister garden this morning, during the meditation period between Nocturnes at Vigils, as I was slowly saying my Rosary, I begin to understand that each human being floats in a boat over a boundless inner ocean trying not to be thrown overboard.  Perhaps faith allows many of us to stay centered in the midst of being plummeted by the many sufferings that well up in our inner lives.

Perhaps it is faith that allows many of us to stay safe and secure in the midst of being plummeted by the suffering that inhabits our inner lives.

The Deep Swimmer

How deep Leviathan hides,
bidding his time until it is right
to climb up into the light
and seek to ravage and feast
on my “whatever” struggles there,
fear and anxiety is its food,
yet to sit in faith in the Presence of Divinity
staying in the center of the whirlwind,
sends it off to slumber in the deep
perhaps its dreams a little less tortured.