(I recently spent six days inpatient in a local Behavioral Health unit due to the onset of severe and debilitating panic attacks.  I continue to work now, on the other side of that darkness, to process the experience, to understand its place in my story.  To read more you may want to check out these other posts, Homesick and Brown Paper Bag (Unpacking my Recent Hospital Stay.)

Three Days


The papers I
signed in the ER

committed me
to seventy-two hours

in the psychiatric unit.  Three

days is the
initial standard of care

approved by
insurance companies everywhere

reassessments are made to extend

or end a

Three days
also, I read, is what it would take

to sign
myself out, even though it was a self-committal.

This gave me
pause; I thought I could leave

when I
wanted to, three days is a long time

to wait for
freedom when you feel you are ready.

Now, on the
other side of those locked doors

I cannot help
but think of the symbolism of that number –

three days –
the biblical symbol for the fullness of earthly


Three days
Jonah spent in the belly of the whale,

before he
was vomited onto the shore of his calling. 

Three days
walking into Nineveh, speaking the words

he feared
would cost his life, the message he didn’t

want to

Three days
blind it took for Saul of Tarsus to learn

to see
again, to be reborn, renamed as Paul;

three days
to shed the old life like an empty skin

before he
could open his eyes and face the light again.

For three
days also, Jesus was in the tomb before the

grave clothes
fell off.  The stone scraped against

and he
emerged transformed but the same, more himself

now that the
old ways of death and decay were sloughed off

like so much
dead skin.

I was in the
hospital for six days, twice as long as I’d hoped

while my family
waited and worried at home.

Lazarus also
was an exception to the rule, for four days

he laid in dark
cave of his own grave,

that extra
day signifying that he was beyond repair.

stinketh,” his sister said, but hearing his name,

he walked
out rank and disheveled, but Alive.   

Six days I
waited while the old

skin, the
old life cracked and peeled back a little,

six days before
I too was vomited out those doors

to face
again the blinding light,

the One who
calls my name. 

Call it what
you will – resurrection, transformation, conversion –

the tilting
of a life from darkness to light takes its own sweet time.

Now I tell
myself when darkness descends, give it time,

three days
or more in the belly, the grave, the old decaying skin,

maybe even
four or six, but as you wait, remember the light

that put you
there, the voice that calls your name (even in the dark),

the feeling
of that sandy shore beneath you when you emerge again,


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