For two hours he lay in the grave-like confines of the irrigation ditch, waiting. His head, pillowed by the unbudging rock, seemed disconnected from his motionless body. As family members wondered at his delay, Tim Swieckowski remained imprisoned within the cell that was his own flesh. He tried to scream but physical injuries foiled any attempt. " Why can't I getup? " he agonized. Panic accompanied the struggling dance of life and death that whirled around and through him.

Tim's last day of freedom had held all of the routine and exuberance that belongs to a 15 year old: a day of classes at his Colorado Junior High, a trek to the video store with brother and parents for games and a movie, a bike ride to a friend's house.

Then, the return home, faster now because it was darkening and he was anxious to play the video games. He pumped with vigor, as always, past gray, silent fields. But a section of excavated pavement, like a demon's open mouth, waited in his path. No cautionary lights or reflectors slowed his pace. Without warning, Tim's "routine" ended, abruptly and forever.

As he catapulted over the handlebars he felt his neck hyper extend forward. His body slammed against hardened soil forcing the air from his lungs, leaving his feet twisted at a bizarre angle. What evil intent had so cruelly expelled him from the animated life of a teenager into an alien and unknown lifestyle--one as a quadriplegic?

Tim's awareness focused on one thing, the swelling in his neck. Its heat rose, contrasting the chill of the rock. As the temperature dropped to 15 degrees a light snow begin to fall. But Tim felt neither the water from the bottom of the irrigation ditch soaking his clothes, nor the pressure from blood pooling in his legs.

In the first moments of fear his mind cried out, "I need help, I need help." Then emerged a single thought, "It's going to be alright; there is a purpose in this." Where had it come from? With clarity and strength it penetrated the soul of a 15 year old boy who had so revealed in life and in experiences. Joined to get was a promise--of hope and vision. Tim felt, "all the love in the world was shining on me." And this love stayed with him, sustaining him until he was found by his parents. More than that, what Tim describes as a, "divine intervention that touched me," did not draw back once human help arrived.

"Code Black" were the words spoken into their radios by arriving paramedics. After examination at Poudre Valley Hospital, Tim wasn't expected to live through the night. But the love, which had visited him in the culvert, had in fact implanted itself within him welcoming and embracing each new day. Its presence miraculously disarmed the anger, frustration or despair that ordinarily would accompany such a devastating injury. Instead of raging, Tim, stabilized by a steel "halo" screwed into his skull, would sing "Sweet Mary Lou" to his nurse of that name. A "corset " was fitted to keep his torso straight, along with splints for hands and feet. Then Tim began the expansion of his mind to master new tasks--controlling blood pressure, maintaining body position.

After 2 months of stabilized hospital care, Tim was re-released to a rehab center in Denver. There, for the next 5 months he training like an Olympian, reclaiming the body this brutal accident had nearly destroyed. The kid who once gathered odds and ends from garage sales, turned them into a bike or a remote control airplane, now grabbed hold of everything without an within himself putting it to use in his recovery. " I just made everything work with what I {had} to work with."

With that first powerful touch of love in his desperate circumstances, Tim's mind and heart had surged and he knew he "couldn't get enough of life. " He's been in hot pursuit ever since mastering one challenge after another. From his return to Junior High in a wheelchair, to further studies a community college and subsequently, Colorado State, Tim has never slowed for self-pity or resentment. Instead, his purposeful quest for knowledge has elevated him above such debilitating emotions. It also promoted him into his dream job.

Today he lives alone in a Florida, beach-side duplex working as director for Dream Quest Adventurers Inc. His expertise in archaeology and maritime history makes Tim the ideal high-tech guide for recreating tragic history. From his desk he directs searches in foreign archives. Via computer he identifies manuscripts which hold the history and specifications of sunken ships. He himself participates in exploratory dives aided by a second diver.

Tim's contribution to the world in uncovering the past and retrieving priceless artifacts is impressive. Even greater value is his living example. It reaches the depths of our souls, uncovering and retrieving worth, purpose, courage. Those treasures, so easily submerged by waves of injustice, disease, fear or doubt, washing across our reality. Pure joy is reflected in his smile, his voice, his daily activities and his innumerable accomplishments. " I'm rich inside my soul, " he proclaims.

Is this the promise joy?

Let Earth Receive Her King;
Let Ev'ry Heart Prepare His Room,
And Heav'n And Nature Sing.


Tim Swieckowski