The Rock that Would Not Roll
In which Doug returns to his cave.
Doug takes his family on a vacation to Southern California, and Micah asks to visit his dad’s cave. None of the other kids wanted to go, and the 5 year old was much too young. Micah is only 2 years older than that, but he’s deemed old enough. Okay, whatever.
Sweet little Micah. This chapter is heartbreaking, because I know this child’s life is going to be very short. I’m not entirely sure what he died of. Some say it was a tractor incident, others say it was a construction incident, others say he committed suicide.
Regardless, it is tragic for one to die so young.
Doug tells us that it has been 8 years since he’s hiked this trail, and things have changed. Even the spring has changed its course. Doug wonders if his cave will even still be there.
As we rounded the rdige and beheld the 3rd valley directly before us, I stopped a moment to breathe and take in the scene.
“Watcha lookin’ at, Dad?” Micah asked.
“My rock,”I whispered.
At that point we were surrounded by rocks, and my statement might have sounded strange to a person who could not see what we saw. But one rock in that valley stood out…I had lived in the shadow of that giant boulder for a year and a half…..sometimes there were earthquakes in these mountains, and rocks and dirt would come tumbling down the valley walls from all directions, but I was never afraid under the protection of “my rock.”
Doug points out more landmarks to Micah, who listens wide eyed.
In a few moments we climbed into the two rocks and over a log…very little had changed. The smoke blackened ceiling, my rock log chair and my fireplace were all still the same. Some of the sand in the bedroom cave and main floor had washed away, but it still felt like home.
They make a fire and cook dinner. Micah asks what happened to the bible his dad found up here.
Not long after I started reading it I accidentally dropped it in the creek,” I said. “After that it swelled up, and it wasn’t very easy to read, so my friend Glen gave me a new one. I’m not sure what ever became of the first one.”
That Bible was that special to him, and he didn’t at least keep it out of sentimental value?
In any case, Doug and Micah sleep in the cave. Doug drops in a few paragraphs about Jesus being like a rock before they fall off to sleep.
Micah had a hard time waking up the next morning. His eyes were half opened, and it was comical, watching him look around, trying to remember where he was and how he got there. His hair looked like it had been combed all night with an eggbeater!
Doug tells Micah they have to get an early start to go back to town to meet the rest of the family.
“But dad, we just got here.”
“I know, son, but our vacation time is about over. Let’s be glad we had a chance to visit this place.”
You couldn’t have gone up there earlier so you could stay there longer?
Before they leave, however, Doug leaves a bible in the cave, because he has never heard that you should leave nothing but footprints behind when you camp.
Micah asks if Doug will ever move back up here again, and Doug says that no, God doesn’t call us to run away from the world, but to go out into it and preach.
Some credit must be given to Doug for not telling little Micah that of course he will have to return to the cave soon. The end times are coming, after all. 10 points to Slytherin!*
I was so thankful for all my children, and I felt particularly close to Micah this morning as we hiked along together…. Micah has taught me one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.
Ouch, right in the feels!
Doug starts reminiscing. Apparently 5 years earlier, MIcah was very sick.
Karyn and I found him in his crib moaning and staring blankly at the ceiling. We knew something was seriously wrong so….we raced to the nearest hospital, 40 miles away….after a basic examination, an intern…told us he feared Micah had spinal meningitis. He said the only way to know for sure was to do a “spinal tap.” That involved inserting a 3 inch needle between the vertebrae in Micah’s spine. The spine, of course, is filled with nerves.
Micah knew about 3 words at this time, enough to comunicate that he didn’t understand.
Two of the nurses held my baby boy on his side, bent so his back was arched. This evidently caused Micah a great deal of pain, because he started groaning. The saddest part was that the intern confessed to having little experience doing spinal taps. So I watched with a breaking heart as 3 or 4 times the young doctor pushed the needle into my little boy’s back. Only a parent can understand the heartache of watching a child suffer.
I disagree with Doug’s last sentence, but let’s set this aside. First off, was there a reason that this particular intern had to be the one to do the spinal tap? Also, why was Micah not sedated for this? One can only hope he was given some kind of pain medication, at least.
Micah looked up and cried out over and over, “Daddy, daddy, daddy.”
This tore me apart.
Yeah, I sympathize. I’m torn apart just reading this, especially because I know that, a good 20 or so years after this incident, Micah actually dies.
One of my greatest fears was that Micah would die thinking I didn’t love him.
I…had a lot to say about this when I thought Micah had committed suicide, but it looks like it was just a construction accident. Still tragic, but at least the probability he felt unloved is low.
In any case, Micah did have spinal meningitis, but “with the grace of God and 10 days in the hospital,” his life was saved. Well, at least Doug gives the doctors some credit. 5 points to Slytherin.
Doug blathers about how God loves Doug just like Doug loves Micah, and it hurts God to see Doug in pain.
This is why Doug feels called to preach the gospel, to tell the world that God loves them.
It is my prayer that those who read the testimony in this book will learn from my experience that happiness does not come from the abundance of things…. but the joy of serving God and ministering to my fellow man is genuine, and it leaves no hangover.
I know, because I tried it all!
Except for, you know, therapy.
This is the second (and last, since that’s the end of the book) time Doug says that ministry leaves no hangover. It’s almost like he knows religion and drugs are basically the same thing, they serve the same purpose.
This book was not as badly written as some books I’ve read. It’s still a terrible book, for Adventist literature this is, like, Prize winning good.
In any case, it is clear that Doug wants to tell a good story, rather than necessarily teach anyone. I can’t tell you how many times I or my friends wished that we had stories like Doug Batchelors. Some of us now do have wild, interesting stories. Some of us left for good, some of us regret having them.
Am I blaming Batchelor for this? No, my mistakes and choices in life were mine and mine alone. In fact, by the time I left Adventism I had largely forgotten the details of this book.
However, Doug’s story does whet the appetite for other stories like this, and leads some children to dream of a life like his. Which, according to him, is kind of the opposite effect he’d hope he’d have.
If I prayed, which I do not, it would be my prayer that these posts have made you laugh, cry, or helped you learn a bit about writing. I know *I* learned something about writing as I read this book and wrote these posts. Mostly I learned what not to do.
Go ye therefore and do likewise.
*I know, I know, I don’t want to be in the same house as Doug either. But he is cunning and ambitious, and has a certain disregard for the rules, so, he’d definitely be sorted that way.