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The Perfect Storm

August 5, 2016


I woke up Wednesday morning to find, amongst the comments to “45/27”, this line: “…you are so rationally diagnosing the perfect storm of lowering blood pressure.” It struck me. The phrase “perfect storm” has always been intriguing. It’s contradictory   Yet, it’s not.   Is a “perfect storm” good? Can something perfect be bad?

These were the thoughts running through my mind when I clicked on a covered window on my computer and this opened full screen:

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I thought, “What!?”

A chill went through me when I realized I had been looking for the perfect storm when 45/27 “hit”. The photo is from a series of photos I took of a storm as it passed over Minneapolis a few weeks ago.   I had been going through the photos looking for the best one to edit.   This was the one I chose.   It was where I was at when my blood pressure fell into the abyss.

I couldn’t take my eyes off it.  It was now so much more than just a photo of a cloud.  It was about light and darkness.  It was about the seen and the unseen.  It was, also, about what I was going through – my storm.

When one is in a storm, one cannot see the storm.  I didn’t know what all was going on.  I just knew the storm was not good.  Or did I?  Who was I to declare what was happening to be not good?  What is good?  Is it just about what’s good to me?  And what is IT?  And what is IT all about (Alfie)?

Then a Facebook post appeared.  It was from a friend,  Ben, who has an incredible heart for others and who led the team from our church to the gulf to join me helping others following THE storm – Hurricane Katrina.  There was a photo – of him – in a wheelchair, neck in brace, arm in cast, bandages, etc.  And a smile.

I thought, “What!?”

I read what he wrote: “On Sunday I got in a motorcycle accident that left me with a fractured wrist and neck, from which I will hopefully fully recover, but which also includes a certain level of pain and immobility along the way.”

His storm.  Suddenly, my storm didn’t look like a storm.  Where was he at?  He went on to write: “But today I want to give thanks to God for the amazing blessings in this situation…”  He then lists all the good things about his storm.

A good storm?  A perfect storm?

Then a post about the young family of five from the Twin Cities who were killed when rear-ended by a semi in Nebraska this week  They were from my church.

They were no longer just road death statistics.  Who were they?  A family – an incredible family.  Read their blog:

The funeral is tomorrow.  The invite:  “Join us for an Easter service in August. To die is gain because to depart and be with Christ is better by far.”

A good storm?  A perfect storm?  Hard to see.  Maybe.  Probably.

My “storm”?  Now just a wisp that melts away like morning fog.

That evening I sat in a stadium with a roof.  Why the roof?   To protect from the storms.

But what if the storms are good?  Maybe perfect?  What if that is where we’re to be – not protected from the storm, but in the storm, helping those caught up?   Would that not be good?

I was overwhelmed sitting there receiving texts from people praying while I watched a meaningless game.

Yesterday, Xerx and I headed down to Mayo in Rochester.  The day was covered with prayer.  It was so evident.  Everything worked, despite me.

I was a half hour late to the first appointment (surprise).  The problem is my appointments in the morning were just a half hour apart.  There was no time between appointments to make up time.  I asked the first check-in desk person what to do?  She looked at my schedule and said, “You’ll be fine.”  Then with a smile said, “I’ll bump you to the front.”  By the third appointment I was on schedule.

One doctor added a test to the schedule that there wasn’t any openings for.  I would have to come back the next day which meant I wouldn’t find out the results until the next day.  With all the prayers, I decided to go for it.  I went to the department direct and asked if they could get me in today.  They did.

During the ultrasound of my heart, I changed my position enough to see the monitor.  Not sure I was suppose to, but I did.  The tech didn’t say anything.  The images were in black and white.  I could see the valves working and the heart pumping.  What was weird was it was live – it was MY heart.  I was seeing it as I was living by it.

From what I could tell, the heart looked to be in bad shape.  I sure wouldn’t base tomorrow on it.  I asked the technician, “So that’s what is keeping me alive?”

So fragile.

Then there was God’s addition to the schedule – perfectly timed, of course.  As I came out of an appointment with some time to spare I saw it was as night outside.  I went to the windows to look.  As I did it hit.  Trees were bent to the ground.  Construction signs were blowing down the street.  Rain was pelting the windows.  People were in awe. I was too – amazed at God’s adherence to a theme.

I looked for the good.  One thing was obvious – the storm was like a  power wash that cleaned everything – leaves both top and bottom, buildings from top to bottom, streets, etc.  All done in a matter of minutes.  The entire city.  Nothing cleans like God.

Then it was time for THE appointment – the appointment with my primary doctor – my Parkinson’s doctor.  All the data gathered during the day was sent to him.  The conclusion:

There is no heart problem!!!  The problem is the primary Parkinson’s medication   …which there is a medication for    …which I will start.

I pointed out a complication I saw right away with this additional new med.  One is not to take it 3-4 hours before going to bed.  I said to the doctor, “That assumes one knows when one is going to bed.”  It caught him off-guard.  Then he smiled and said, “I forgot who I was working with.”

Will things get back to “normal”?  What is normal?  You think you are?

I will still need to find the most effective balance with the meds.  Will it be perfect?  No.

The Parkinson’s will continue to progress.  The medications will  run their course and will lose effectiveness.  The body will fail.  And then what?


For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father from whom every family in heaven and earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you , being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height  and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now to him who able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever.  Amen.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the thoughts, encouragements, and prayers.  He did far more than I was asking   …0r thinking.

After dinner with my parents, I headed home.  As I drove the skies cleared.  As I reached  Minneapolis their was no sign of a storm.  The sky was perfectly clear   …not even a wisp.















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  1. August 5, 2016

    Beautiful. You are so gifted. I find myself fighting back tears…of joy? of sorrow? Perhaps both, but knowing God will somehow make it all perfect in a way only he knows is best. Blessings and love to you.

  2. Mark Salzman #
    August 6, 2016

    Thank you for your sweet and encouraging reflections Tom! I know about trips to Mayo and waiting on results from tests. God – am I going to trust you about whatever the results of this blood test are?

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