When I was eleven, I read Stephen King’s novel, The Shining. It is a harrowing tale of haunted hotel, and a father’s descent into madness. Though it’s been over thirty years since I read it, I remember look of the book–a silver and grey New American Library paperback. And I remember the opening chapter with Jack Torrance being interviewed, calling his interviewer an “officious little prick” in his internal monologue.
Jack Torrance was a man setup by the demons of his childhood to fall prey to possession by the haunted hotel. In the fight for his soul, the cards were stacked against him (as they are all of us, really). He was a man who wanted to be free, but couldn’t get there. In that sense, though he became the victimizer, he is a man we can pity.
Even more than Jack’s story, I remember his son, Danny, who fell prey to his wrath (Jack at one time dislocated his young son’s arm). Danny had a special ability–the shine–he could see things. The hotel’s chef, Dick Halloran, mentored him in his gift (Dick had it, too–just not as strong as Danny).
I read that book, devoured it really, and despite the abject terror of it, the monstrous heart of evil bound within the Overlook Hotel, I wanted to be Danny. I wanted to have abilities–to see, and to know, things. It’s explained in the book that Danny was born with a caul. And that this covering, this caul, was the fount of his gift.
I asked my mom if I, too, had been born with a caul. Although she couldn’t have known it, in my heart I was asking “Am I special?” She answered “No.” (Unfortunately, my dad wasn’t available to take my question to. Would he have answered any differently? There’s no way to know with any degree of certainty, but his unavailability spoke volumes. Like the Overlook of the novel, it haunts me still).
The thing is, I would have endured everything Danny went through in King’s story to know that very thing:
That I was–am–special.
It wasn’t until many years later that Jesus whispered it into my soul. He told me that God is my Father–the father I’d always longed for–and that he, Jesus, was my friend. A friend that sticks closer than a brother. Like Robert Frost’s divergent path, “that has made all the difference.”
Do you know that you’re special, too, and loved more than you can fathom? That God is your Father, and Jesus is your brother?
Look up from wherever you are–Jesus is coming for you.
Where do you see Jesus moving in your life?
Did you ever want to be a character in a beloved book?