Wednesday, January 12, 2011
This space has become a bit intimidating in the New Year. It seems everywhere I turn, there are people making admirable New Year resolutions. I’ve caught myself trying to paste on an Academy Award Winning face, but the truth is I feel about as bare and empty as my hollowed out tree in my back yard in the dead of winter.
Just hanging up a new calendar this year was hard. It was a gift from my online friend that passed on this autumn. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that online friends aren’t ‘real’. I’m still a bit bent over from missing his (almost) daily e-mails and calls. The calendar is a precious present, but a bittersweet reminder that all the possibilities for chewing over our thoughts and words, laughing over editing mistakes and other impish times are gone and my heart aches to try to write in this place. While I do not grieve without hope, this has been a most difficult of doors to for me to close on a loved ones going out.
There are some seasons that are just naturally heavier with burdens than others and winter, while it is beautiful, seems to some times be one of them. I’ve just spent a month slowly initiating a drug not approved in the US for my motility disorder. I truly pinned my hope on this one. Over the course of a month, I have mustered up boldness enough and laughed here at my typical dumping out and meticulously dividing dosages that I increase in tiny increments. I look as if I got it straight off street and I’m quite certain it would have been much cheaper that way! It always takes courage to start, being allergic to most medications, so the bottom kind of dropped out hard when it failed, especially as I waited so long and when it happens to be the last option. In the midst of this and the holidays, my husband, who I could count the number of times he was ill in 25 years of marriage on one hand, slowly developed symptoms of a temporary autoimmune disease that normally hits young children under the age of five. I say temporary, but the approximate eight weeks for this ditty to burn itself out has seems to have come and gone. I am now watching him jog off to the lab and doctors like I frequent, which is very strange and a bit unsettling.
So, a bit of unexpected happenings seem to be following me like a shadow into the New Year and I wish to fill this space with bright and shining new stories and they are not flowing. I don’t share for sympathy, but for the importance of being an authentic believer. I am simply a messy child of God. I’ll tell you what is good, though. The emptiness is not completely barren, because I know that God’s promises are true. I am being ‘held’ and we all are. I now know not to live life by feelings, and that feelings change and there is hope for other unexpected good openings. I’m keenly aware of the simple and extravagant gifts God sends in the midst of what seems like dormant times: the never ending laughter inside my walls here from our children, their help in our home, and a chance to give back a miniscule amount of care and love that my husband has shown me over the past 5 years, as if that is even a bit possible!
There are grace filled moments every day and always someone to help encourage that has life harder than we do. I am ever more aware of the blessing of seeing God’s face in those that remain and journey alongside me. I’m even thrilled to make a new younger friend, whose smiling face is on this page and whether she knows it or not, is teaching me more about God these days than I am teaching her. Beyond that, she thinks I might be able to sew, and has me literally in stitches of laughter in the midst of my some times tears! I stink at sewing, but am willing to give it a go again once more.
I’ve also been reminded that we all must write love on our own arms each day in order to do so for others; to love our neighbors as ourselves we must truly love ourselves. Weekly I am told this and blessed by my Christian Spiritual Formation classes that have started up again this past week. It is hard to believe it is semester two already and it is by far the most healing thing I’ve done since my illnesses began, though it does limit my time online and especially in writing here. God has placed me with the kindest people though, who are full of wisdom and shine his Light. I’ve been assigned to a wonderful supervisor who knitted me a beautiful prayer scarf that arrived here by mail before the holiday. It has warmed my heart-the one I’ve had to reveal to her in truth the past four months along with my Spiritual Director who is such a good listener and challenges me in my own spiritual walk.
So there is much going on in a bare winter tree that looks hollow and dormant. I know there is Truth in my roots and they help me stand on the promise that God will see me through, as the Lord is the strength of my life. (Psalm 27:1) We can all trust and look forward to the future, knowing our heavy seasons will not last forever, especially when Christ is at the center ensuring we have a Living stronghold in this life. When we feel too weak to hang on, God never lets us go. There will be a time for nourishment and for springing up with new life and growth. Each new day is a gift in which there is another chance to set our mind on things above, things eternal. Christ asks us to leave things behind and to follow him and some times those are the hardest of things or people, but necessary in the journey.
May your footsteps be ‘held’ and gently guided, as we grow with the Christ child in the coming year. I hope for you to see beauty in new beginnings and know the reality of his Presence and I trust that peace and joy will tip toe quietly into all of our days and cause us to smile when we least expect it.