Swimming in the deep end

Yesterday Dianne and I spent most of our day enjoying the pool at the hotel we are staying at. There were a few times when I was the only person in the pool. I spent the majority of my time in the deep end, just floating and bobbing. Post surgery, my pool time will be confined to shallow regions as my stoma if submerged, would cause instant drowning. I enjoyed my time in the deep end and pondered what might life be like without this small pleasure. It would be my last time… so I thought.

Yesterday evening, Dianne was returning with a snack for me from the hotel restaurant. After all, this would be my ‘last meal’ for several weeks while my esophagus heals and I learn how to swallow again. BTW: The Asian chicken lettuce wraps at the Sheraton in La Jolla are excellent.

I must interject here that Dianne has a knack for crashing really good parties. She once literally disappeared from a New Year’s Eve party that we were attending with friends and ended up with Bill Murray and his date. They pleaded with her to join them backstage with Jim Belushi and John Goodman after their ‘Blue’s Brothers’ performance at the venue we were at. She returned to our ballroom within about an hour or so. (If it had been me, she wouldn’t have seen me until sometime the next day) But I digress…

We are staying in room 507. When Dianne entered our hallway last night, she heard sounds coming from room 501. Sounds that she described as happy. Sounds of a family that reminded her of times when the grandsons have spent time with us in hotel rooms. She was compelled to knock on the door, merely to tell them that it was nice to hear a family enjoying themselves.

An elderly, Hispanic man opened the door and asked, ‘May I help you?’ Dianne now felt nervous and that she had imposed on their festivities. Just as she was about to apologize for disturbing them, a much younger and larger man was putting on a T shirt and said, ‘It’s okay, Dad. This is who we were expecting.’ His father retreated into the room and then his son said, ‘We’ve been expecting you Dianne, and wanted to pray for you and Dana. May we pray for you?’ An astounded ‘Yes.’ was all she could utter. He then proceeded to tell her that they were celebrating his brother’s surgery. He just had a laryngectomy by Dr. Califano and was doing great. ‘Dana will be in great hands. We were going to drive home today, but God told us to wait, that you would be coming.’

Dianne was visibly shaken when she reached our room and I asked her what had happened. She broke into sobs and covered her face while her body heaved. In between sobs she revealed the encounter that had just taken place a few doors down. ‘How did he know our names?’ she repeated. It was amazing, it was baffling, it was incredible, unbelievable. Or was it? The more she spoke, the less I thought she was hallucinating and that a Divine appointment had actually occurred.

I decided that while still perplexed, if there was a Divine appointment to be had, I wasn’t going to miss out on it for myself. I brushed my teeth and hair, put on a fresh T shirt and went to room 501. The door was ajar and I heard the same family interactions that Dianne had described. Could this be real? I knocked on the door and a large man in his thirties appeared. About 5′ 11′, maybe 250/275 lbs. wearing a black baseball cap. He had a black beard without a trace of gray. This guy was right out of central casting for a East LA gang banger except I have rarely ever seen such a warm smile.

I introduced myself and told him that my wife just had had an amazing encounter with God and that I didn’t want to miss out on it. He said, “You sound just like my brother before he went in for his surgery.’ I could see his family, his father, wife and children in the room, though I stayed in the doorway. He prayed for me and recited portions of the 23rd psalm and then a passage that has been prayed over me by several other people in recent years; that my latter days would be greater than my former days. This was indeed a Divine appointment. After the prayer I thanked him and he mentioned that someone had once told him that he would be used by God in a mighty way. ‘How could God use a guy like me?’ he asked. We still had our arms around each others shoulders and I patted his shoulder. I asked him his name. ‘Fidel.’ ‘Fidel?’ I confirmed. ‘Yes, Fidel.’

‘Well Fidel, I’ll tell you. God saw in you exactly what Jesus saw in Peter. He saw a man that could not control his temper. He saw a man who would deny Him three times. He saw a man who He would tell, Upon this rock I will build my church. You are Cephas, you are Peter. You are My rock, Fidel.’

I thanked him again and he asked his wife to take a picture of us. We hugged and bid one another good night.

I had lamented my last swim in the deep end and God had laughed. He had shown me what it was really like to swim in the comfort and love of His deep end. He sent a brother named Fidel to guide me into His infinitely deep waters. Waters of life, of refreshing, of love, of peace.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Peace , love and hope my friends.

Published by dana j valley

Carpenter's Apprentice (Christ follower), husband, father, grandfather and brother. Often stuck in a 1965-1975 musical time warp. Plays guitar & ukulele. Tries to play mandolin, banjo and keyboards. I am blessed with the best friends and family the world over.

22 thoughts on “Swimming in the deep end

  1. Dang it, DV, now you got me crying!
    GOD IS GOOD, and works in mysterious ways! Bless you today during your surgery, and I look forward to mire stories through your recovery!! Peace, health, and Love!!


  2. Wow Dana! You are loved by many! Keep up the positivity! You got this! You are my inspiration not only in building but in so many other ways!💪❤️🙏


  3. All I can say is that’s so awesome Dana!!!

    You and Dianne are loved by many, but our love is but a shadow of God’s love.

    Bask in His comfort and strength.
    Then march on with Jesus marching on before you.

    Praying, trusting, rebuking all anxiety for you, and waiting for a post surgery update from Dianne.

    Philip Canaday
    951-809-7604 voice or text


  4. Wow, this is amazing and inspiring! I have not seen you all for so many years and I must admit I have really only known you and Dianne as the family of our dear friends Darin & Patti! You were always such lovely people, so welcoming and friendly, but this glimpse of you on such a deeper level is incredible! I’m so glad I had the privilege to read this! What a testimony! I will join in prayer for you and a successful surgery! God bless!


  5. Powerful and amazing. As if coming to our Heavenly Father through prayer with our cries for grace and mercy isn’t comforting enough, He sends us His angels, in other words, ordinary obedient people to minister to us. Thank you Jesus, for loving us so clearly. Thank you Dana and Dianne for sharing this message.


  6. Completely bawling my eyes out reading this not only are you blessed and mighty you are eloquent With an ethereal presence. thank you for sharing Dana.


  7. So beautiful my friend. God is real and His Spirit was moving to divinely put you and that family together. His Spirit is still moving in and through you as you begin this new journey. We love you and Dianne and are lifting you up in prayer!


  8. Just had a message from Dianne who said you are progressing beautifully. Love Fidels interaction and see how blessed your journey will be. God bless and know the firestorm of prayers has not ceased. Can’t imagine your frustration with the inability to speak, we know most of the Valleys have bog mouths and don’t stop using them to everyone’s delight or disgust 😳😳😳


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