on the senses and their frailty

Somewhere between the early days of this and now, things started feeling harder. Things have settled in. At first I felt some supernatural peace and ability to soar above everything, to accept whatever came. But now I’ve experienced more of what was to come, and I haven’t enjoyed it. I’m a bit more tired, broken down, disillusioned. I’ve let myself let go of that vision to praise God with everything, to tell everyone about His goodness. When the struggle becomes ordinary and tedious, there’s less to feel inspired about. And it’s unsustainable to keep inspiring oneself without end.

Even with a “good” prognosis, there’s the possibility for things to get much worse, much harder. More fevers, a relapse, who knows? My treatment plan was just extended by about a month, right after a week delay before that. It seems very possible that more delays will come. And there might be more intense suffering, and after options are exhausted, my life might end sooner than I’d ever anticipated. This is the first time I’ve written about that sort of thing.

People talk about death, for Christians, as “going home” to Jesus. In a way I think that’s right, because we will be more fully with Him than ever before. But heaven isn’t home. Jesus is. I don’t even know fully what heaven is, and it doesn’t matter that much to me. What’s promised for those who know Christ is that they will be with Him forever, no longer separated in a world sick with sin.

Then it seems to me that I should strive for that while I’m still here. I could learn to experience God as my home even now, just as we are called to become more like Christ here on earth, just as we are told to be rid of sin here on earth. None of these things will be ultimately completed until we are consummately reunited with God in death and in the new earth and heaven. There’s so much about that I don’t understand. But I don’t intend to wait until I die to practice making God my home.

In Him is found everything we could ever want in a home – peace, protection, unconditional love and welcome, wholeness. In Him is everything we look to the world to give us, everything we ask of other people and things. Everything we think will make the hard stuff better. He is ultimately everything I want, but it’s harder somehow to look to Him for it. So that’s my practice. That’s my hope – that I would experience God as the Home He is. It’ll be a way of getting ready to meet Him face to face, a year from now or 70 years. Or any number in between.

//

Last week was gorgeous, so bright and clear and sunny and warm. It was so opposite how I felt inside, where darkness called the shots. Everyone kept remarking how beautiful it was, and it brought me no joy. Me, who in the depth of winter felt shrivelled and blanched for the deluge of water and the blackness of days. Me, who cat-like would sit in sunlight any chance I have. Me, whose spirits used to rise at the mere sight of a ray of light. Here, after all the wet months, I wished it would rain. I sat in a puddle in a cave, humourless and hopeless. It came on like the gradual chill of evening after sundown, but I didn’t perceive it until I was shivering and alone in it.

And then I felt trapped and confused, disenchanted with the small delights of God’s gifts, taking interest in nothing, resenting people for caring to interact with me. Smiles escaped me, words evaded me. Nothing mattered. It’s been weeks and weeks of listless trudging. Fear. Cynicism. Sadness. Loneliness. Social fatigue. Ungratefulness. Tiredness. This became all I could taste. I was in no mood for God and His glory.

At the end of last week, my husband spoke some good, true words to me about the nature of life and God, and it seemed my heart was so desperate that drops of truth slipped in by the cracks in the dried up ground and started to nourish me again. My heart actually desires God, beyond simply needing Him. I can’t deny His goodness, not when I know He loved me to death and not when pink magnolias exist in the world. What’s true doesn’t rest in what I feel. As roots slowly drink to restore their stems, my exit from the dark has been almost imperceptible, but at times I notice a deeper breath, an easier smile, a firmer trust in God’s sweetness. By little bits, God is peeling back these layers – I don’t remember how they came to be – and recalling me to light. Maybe I’d be blinded if He did it all at once.

Blurry eyes, remembering how to gaze. Blurry window panes. And the rain that is falling tonight seems refreshing, gentle, and sweet, like a spring evening rain maybe ought to be. It falls on my garden and the grass, and grace falls on my soul, and we both will grow.

….

Psalm 34:8

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

..

on stillness in Lent

It’s 2am and I just heard a train. And I’m thinking, sometimes in quiet, things that seemed far away maybe aren’t so much. You see, we don’t live near the train.

There’s no rain tonight. And the sky is dark, almost like it’s clear. In stillness, the right things are absent as to make others more apparent. That’s what I was hoping for this Lent. My heart and mind are not early adopters of this enterprise, but I have hope for them yet.

Especially moments like this, at 2am. I’m lying here and I just now acknowledged that I don’t have to fall asleep – there’s no one who says I do. It’s a beautiful night, and what if I just think about God for a while? My body has tricked that mind and heart into it, praise be for sleeplessness. I never thought I’d say a thing like that.

And then I feel united, these parts of me, and ready for this night, ready for some new stillness to settle itself down on me, and to listen for trains, and to remember my God.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. [Psalm 63:5-7 ESV]

on the heart and waiting

I am learning in a new way how much I am not in control. I have been stuck in this hospital room for a week and have no idea when I will be able to leave. We are waiting for my neutrophil count to get to a certain point. Neutrophils reflect the strength of the immune system, and the doctors want mine stronger before I go home – possibly because they don’t know what caused the fever that brought me in here and would rather ensure I’m healthier before I go out into the elements.

I hate being here. I am sick of walking around the wing, in either direction. I’ll walk another mile today but it’s all the same. This morning I learned my neutrophil count actually dropped, so I’m further away from the goal than I was yesterday. Yesterday, everyone thought I’d probably leave today. Each day is the same in that way – guessing when it’ll be over, uncertainty the whole time.

I miss my house. I miss my bed, even though it doesn’t have cool buttons that make you sit up. I miss privacy. I miss the quiet. I miss my plants and my blankets and my walls. I miss fresh air and walking up stairs. I miss whatever isn’t hospital food.

I was crying this morning about this, about staying here another day when I so expected to leave. But then the nurse came in so I took a break. Then I cried more, but then the custodian came in to clean so I started writing and stopped crying. Maybe now I can cry in peace.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. [Prov. 13:12]

I didn’t expect that simply being in the hospital would be such a trial in itself. It wears on you. I didn’t expect that having to stay longer would be such a disappointment as to bring me to tears. God is stretching my heart in a new way, and I just don’t like it. I want what I want, and I’m having such a hard time accepting these circumstances.

I’m waiting for something I can’t control. I’m angry about that. I don’t know when I’ll stop being angry, but reading this helps a little:

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! [Ps 27:13-14]

I’ve been reading this daily, waiting for my heart to take courage, waiting for my heart to wait.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but Paul found contentment in all circumstances. I don’t have anything else to do today, so I suppose I’ll work on this daunting goal.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.