We who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:18
Thursday was Momma’s birthday and 4th of July was Dad’s. Happy parturition to a nation and two parents. As this song of birth echoes, I listen to the boom of fireworks from the 19th floor of our hotel, watch the bright lights blow, flicker and flame and I am content. Death which has come knocking hard at our family door this past year has been averted, postponed, and I’ve been delivered into the future of another 4th of July, hot dogs with chili and slaw, parades, baseball and fireworks.
And what, now that you have fled into the spirit, what do you hope for Julia? What has been birthed in you? And I realize that though there have been sacrifices there are many things of which I am proud and of which I hope. I am proud of my response to this trial and my belief that God is still my refuge. I am proud of not complaining too much when things tighten, burn and pinch. I am proud of not crying when I have to stop working in the garden because of fatigue. I am proud of walking almost every day. I am proud of my gratitude toward my providers, from the nurses who infuse me to the great minds that create the infusions. I am continually hopeful for another drug which portends a cure. I am proud of my work and ability to heal others. I am proud of the black and white red all over panel I just finished on Virginia Woolf. I am proud of the Maya Angelou painting completed since her death. I am proud of allowing others to help me when I’d rather help myself. I am proud of my meditation, my ability to sit into the stillness of this diagnosis and not run from it. I am hopeful and filled with hope too.
“With long life will I satisfy her and show her my salvation,” Psalm 91:16. Grateful to the psalmist, David for his suffering and the lamentations created from his pain, I lament some days as well. But mostly I sing praises of gratitude, gratitude to my friends, family and readers that pray for me daily and reach out to reassure me of their presence. Thank you for knowing me and sustaining my courage, even when my chemotherapy extends from twenty weeks to twenty four weeks. Twenty did seem long enough didn’t it?
I am enlightened by Tich Nhat Hahn’s intelligence in his book No Fear, No Death. Who wouldn’t read a book about death if they were in my shoes? Only the foolhardy, the meek, those in denial. And so happily I get in the boat and row with him over the pages of eternity. “The flame in the match is always there, although it is not manifest until we strike it. When we strike the match and light the candle, blowing out the match, is the flame still manifest in the match?” I believe that it is. Manifest, non-manifest, both edges of existence. The soul continuing it’s climb to ascension even without the body. Death being more like a snake shedding it’s skin and slithering off to parts unknown than a snake skin lying dead without a path or journey.
I look at pictures of myself as a baby, a middle school student and again as a college student sitting in the bleachers cheering for Carolina to win the game, be the best at throwing and running the ball, and I wonder If I am this person or that other. Is the one who types and posts and blogs and paints the same girl that won the third grade spelling bee but now can’t spell brilliant? Is the girl that won the NC State Audition contest with the Mozart Concerto the same or different than the one that can barely play hymns today? Now I am no longer daughter, only mother and wife and what will my own daughter be when I pass away?
Once born does the trajectory of life continue or is it interrupted by the twists and turns of time and change that separate each piece yet fit them together? I realize, whether I want to or not, that God knows even now when I will shed this skin for parts unknown. She knows. I do not. But what I do know is that I will never die. I will be manifest or non-manifest but will never cease to exist. I will be always with and not with. At 58 or 100 years, I’ll still exist.
Thank you for this life, for these relationships. And as we open our arms to receive so many blessings as they come today, we renew each other in love. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. And it is sufficient.