Work of Our Hearts

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Labour Day marks a shift for most people who gear up to return to school and/or work.  Committees and board meetings are scheduled.  Sports, dance, and other activities start the driving frenzy for most parents.  Life is about to get busy after the dog days of summer.  What about for those of us who have a different life style because of illness?

My life has been altered significantly by cancer at this juncture.  I have always had a full life.  Work and play have been mostly balanced–rest not so much. Now, I have slowly stepped off every board that I have sat on and whittled down my extra-curricular activities to a minimum. Psalm 90 asks the Lord to give success to the work of our hands but tonight reflecting on the work that I do it is with my heart. My visits to the federal penitentiary, the spiritual direction, and the visiting with family and friends is a ministry of presence, of caring, of listening.  These are ministries of the heart, not the head or hands.

After my work farewell party, a colleague who is a dear friend took me home.  I had held it together fairly well at the dinner and through the speeches.  The full reality happened sitting in the truck as we pulled up to my place.  I could not imagine life without work at that particular juncture.  The identity crisis loomed–who was I without my career? I had a good rant, and my friend gave me the gift of his attentive spirit and heart. He let me spew it all out before I circled back and concluded that I had always been more than my work anyway.  Our eyes met and he smiled that wonderful knowing smile he has, pleased that he had not needed to offer anything but space for me.  He was glad that I was able to sort it all through and arrive at my truth.  What a blessing and a gift he was!

God has entrusted me with many talents as in today’s Gospel of Matthew. I have not buried or squandered them for the most part.  Yet as I wind down my life, I do want to know what is left to give from the work of my heart.  This has always been the most important piece of the work puzzle for me–whatever I have done for paid employment, I have done with passion and thrown myself into it. Beyond my career, I have always found ways to engage in life in order to serve the least of these.

The words Jesus praises the servants with five and two talents, saying that they have done well and are trustworthy in a few things so will be put in charge of many more. He then invites them into the joy of their master.  This Labour Day I feel a bit more like the slave who had one simple talent but chose to hide it in fear. This is not because I am afraid of the Master but afraid that I might not complete the work or not discern properly what I am to do.  I feel somewhat stuck, I suppose.  Most of my life I knew exactly how to use my skills and now I find myself floundering. The past 24 hours have helped reassure me that it is time to pull my head out of the sand and begin this work of the heart, whatever it turns out to be.  Happy labouring!  Give birth to something spectacular.

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

What is the work of your heart these days?

Are you scared to put your talents to work?

Prayer

Good and faithful Master, you call us to use our hearts to serve you, to bring about the work of the Kingdom, and to fear not. You are with us, guiding us, preparing the way, and cheering us on.  Let me rise from the field, treasure in hand and work with you.  Amen.

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Let Grace Lead

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This day has given me much to ponder, from start to end.  During my morning prayer time, I read the meditation that accompanies the Sunday mass readings. Towards the end of it, these words by Kelly Bourke touched a chord within:  To follow Jesus, we must let go of the idea that we know everything that should happen, and let grace lead our way. Let us find ways to remain open to plans bigger than our own.  These past few weeks have raised all sorts of questions for me. The intensity of life, both the best and the worst of times, has me trying to stand on a strong foundation with my hands open but I appear to have lost my balance on several attempts and pushed grace out of the way, unwilling to concede that Someone may have plans bigger than my own.

God has somehow lost first place in my life for a few months now.  Not consistently but more often than I would like.  Today was a day of God asking me to follow Jesus and remain open.  I cannot tell you all that happened today but I will highlight a couple of situations.  For awhile now, I have had a desire arise to discover what it is God is asking me to do with these remaining months.  I have tasked others to pray, but I have not.  The Holy One is not to be deterred though.  Time and again the vision is placed before me and I ignore it. I am unsure why, though I could use as an excuse my weariness.  Over these weeks, I have had two friends offer me a space to write.  I have had several people tell me how my blog posts move and inspire them.  I have had a couple tell me I must write a book about my faith experiences and, by the way, the husband offered to edit it, something he does.  Today, though God decided to use more of a bombshell since I seemed to be ignoring the whisper.  My Muslim friend said I should write a Daily Bread sort of book. I suspect I can no longer ignore the task that seems to be placed in front of me.

What I know about the Trinity is that they are extremely jealous.  They long for us to be wholly theirs.  I have not been lately and for that I am sorry.  Tonight, as I entered the door of my church for mass my infidelity to my Beloved was made clear.  I arrived one minute before the procession started–very unlike me.  The pastor happened to be opening the inner door for some reason, and he looked up at the person in front of me and then me, and welcomed us in.  A surge of energy went through me for some reason.  The rest of the mass is hard to explain but I will try.  A former colleague of mine who is rather shy, showed up two minutes after me, and motioned if he might sit with me.  I nodded. That is a first for us.  He is someone who rarely interrupts the crowd of people who gather around me at the end of mass and yet he likes to stay on top of how best to pray for me.  He is a very holy man whose presence these past two years have been a blessing. During the recessional song, one of our members who suffers from mental illness came up to us and announced that we should be boyfriend and girlfriend, loudly several times. My former colleague was sweet about it and later, after the music stopped, I said, So boyfriend….. We laughed.

The readings and the songs were powerful but I had been distracted during the Gospel about something coming up this week. As the pastor started the homily, I became riveted though.  This is for me, I thought.  Pay attention.  He spoke of how as a child, being holy was not cool. His parents were ridiculed for attending daily mass upon their retirement but they held fast; they did not push Grace out of the way.  The Psalm refrain had already alerted me to my desire: My soul thirsts for you, O Lord, my God. Yes, I thought as I sang the words.  While the pastor spoke of our desire for wholeness and holiness, I could feel tears well up in my eyes.  This was what I was being asked to do.  Find God again in new ways after clinging desperately to the Divine for so long during treatment. Find God in all things, at all times.  Yoke myself to my Beloved in a new way.  Put the Trinity first once again and be attentive to what is being asked of me.

This past week I spoke to the priest who will say my funeral.  He gave me a precious gem that I have returned to often.  While the funeral is important, the dying is much more so.  How I die sends a message.  The planning that my friends and I are doing around this excites me as odd as that may appear.  I want to die well and I want to know that it is the arms of my Beloved who will receive me.  This means that I must begin to get more serious about spending time in the Holy Presence again.

We sang tonight a song that I know well, based on a psalm–as a deer longs for running streams so my soul longs for you.  This brought tears again.  This is exactly the desire I need to embrace again. The pastor ended his homily with a line from a song that will be sung at my funeral: the beautiful L’Arche Hymn with the words that I will praise Jesus as long as I live. The song has long been a comfort and a summary of my life.  Singing even just one line tonight was a reminder of what I have always longed for in life–to serve my God, to sing praises, that Jesus is my life and my love,  and that I want my life to reflect that. Courage will come at the sound of those sacred footsteps by my side.

As I returned to my pew after the Eucharist, I knelt down and another song that I want to have at my funeral called Rest began. God restores my soul and gives me rest but asks a closer walk than what I have been doing lately.  The day seemed to whisper to me, come and find rest in me; I am waiting for you. I have not been so moved by a mass in a long time.  From the pastor’s welcome, to sitting with my holy boyfriend, to the songs and words, God had finally wooed me back.  I trust in the hands that hold me.  I must let go of the idea that I know everything that should happen and let Grace lead the way for me.  I must find ways to remain open to plans bigger than my own. These are holy days and I must keep my eyes on what is being asked of me. Being holy may not be cool, but it is my choice. May Grace take me by the hand and lead me on.

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

How can you let go of your plans and let Grace led the way to the bigger plans being asked of you?

When has God needed to woo you back to holiness?

Prayer

Holy One, seduce me back into your arms.  Allow Grace to lead me to the bigger, more than I can ask or imagine plans that you have for me.  Let me discern distractions as they arise and seek out what should happen within the plans you have for me.  Keep my eyes open to you as you nudge relentlessly and wrap me in your loving arms, demanding a closer walk with thee. Lead me on, Beloved.  I am ready.  Amen.

 

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Loving Like Jesus

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As I did the morning readings, something in the Gospel acclamation in John 13 sent me off on a tangent.  I have been given a new commandment to love one another as Jesus loves me. What exactly does this mean to me right now? I have struggled a bit in these past two years to figure out how to keep my heart open and vulnerable, knowing full well how great the sorrow will be to leave this world and to break hearts in the parting. Today was the first time I ever thought about how Jesus might have felt at his departure, knowing full well that those who had grown to love him would be confused, angry, disoriented, and grieved.

Love as Jesus loved….right until the end.  He remained vulnerable and open to betrayal, sorrow, and love.  That is a tall order.  What is my lesson here?  The first year after my diagnosis and prognosis was challenging.  I would weep at my goodbyes with family and friends.  I could not bear the thought that this would be the last time I might see them. After a particular ugly crying jag with a far-away friend (who I have seen three times since), I decided that I could not go on this way.  Neither could she.  Our next gatherings were lighter and more relaxed.  Since I did not know how long I had, I needed to just be open.

This has not been a simple feat and is an ongoing struggle.  I confessed to my social worker in our last session that I felt as if my light as fading.  I knew exactly what I meant — it is the look that I have seen in the faces of those who are dying.  I saw it in my father’s eyes before I left on the trip.  I knew that he was leaving us, but I could not tell when exactly.  I saw it in my dear pastor’s eyes when I returned from Africa. I call it the dimming of the soul lamp, the moment when your spirit knows it is ready for the journey home and needs to turn out the lights in its temporary home.  It was the first time I have felt it in this two-year saga.  Naturally,  my therapist wanted to know how I left about it.  I named some emotions but danced around the one he finally placed gently on the table: Sadness? Yes, I responded, as the tears flowed, I am not yet ready to go.

I sense something has internally shifted since then.  Perhaps I was experiencing a flickering and not a dimming.  The fatigue I was feeling lifted somewhat which has been helpful. Now my thoughts turn back to how I am to engage in relationships in these final months.  I still want to create good memories with people.  The list of people who want to get together keeps growing while my desire to cocoon grows a bit.  I have an interest but not always the energy.  This morning after reading that single line from John, I had flashes of Jesus in the garden, asking his friends why they could not stay awake, returning to pray by himself, distraught at what was to come, of giving Mary to John and he to her at the foot of the cross, of looking into Peter’s eyes with love despite the betrayal, of walking the Via Dolorosa with determination, of spending time with his mother after the resurrection, and of meeting the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  How is Jesus calling me to love right now?

I have rarely chosen the easy way in life.  I am not often the tin man whose heart is missing, or the lion who needs to find courage–I have sung If I Only Had a Brain on occasion.  I am not a wooden statue who has no feelings.  I have deep relationships which I value. Decades ago when I lived on the east coast in a community, I thought my heart would be splintered into a million pieces at the thought of leaving and returning to Canada.  The experience had been so pivotal that I knew I was not the same person who had left.  I was not ready to let go of these people, the places that I had grown to love, and the new thoughts circulating in my head. As my departure date drew near, conversations on the beach, in my office, in my home, and in the park wrestled with the sadness we all felt.  Did I disengage now or did we simply tackle the reality head on?  Avoid or engage? Unplug emotions or be prepared to feel the immense pain as I headed north. I chose then to engage and let my heart shatter.  I stayed present right until the end.

Now I feel the anxiety of living loved and loving fully.  A recent interaction with a friend brought tears to us both as we embraced and I agreed that I would find a way to visit her through the thin veil. I know that it is possible. I find myself for the first time in life, taking baby steps away from people.  I cannot bear the thought of leaving my loved ones. Yet, as we prepare, I love the plans we are beginning to create around this process.  I want these moments of intimacy.  I want death to not have the final word.  I want love to place the final seal upon my life. As I look at Christ’s final days, I am drawn to stay with his example and to learn to love others as Jesus has so tenderly and mercifully loved me, and those who walked with him.  I am uncertain how to do this but I think it is the risk that I must take. No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear, Lewis writes in A Grief Observed. He is right, of course.  I cannot let fear stop Love.  I know the suffering that means for myself and those who wish to join with me on this adventure. I am more than acquainted with grief.  Perhaps if I was not, this would be much easier on me.  Still I will ponder on the One whose example is my guide.  Perhaps something will become clearer in the weeks and months ahead.

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

How do you stay engaged when you know that the cost will be dear?

Why do you choose to stay in the game rather than retreat?

Prayer

Jesus, you show us the way.  If we keep our eyes on you, we have nothing to fear. You are with us and you will shepherd us.  May my heart be open to living, loving and being loved. Amen.

 

 

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Held Fast

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.  ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I think I can sum up my summer with this quote.  I have had anything but a lukewarm few months. I have in so many ways had one of the best summers of my life while at the same time I have had the worst of times.  I have felt wise and I have been foolish.  Some days I know exactly what I believe and other days much seems surreal. I can bask in the Light but the Darkness has been a hungry hound. Hope has been tenacious as despair relentlessly banged down the door. The superlatives are accurate and necessary. In between, brief rest from the highs and lows have allowed for a deep breath or two.

Psalm 139 today reminds me that there is nowhere I can go from God’s presence.  Whether I am in the best of times or the worse, acting wisely or foolishly, believing or struggling with doubt, despairing or hoping, in the Light or the Dark, God is there with me, holding me fast by the hand.  I cannot squirm out of the grip of Grace nor slip out of the sacred squeeze.  When the light becomes like night, God does not let go; the night is as bright as the day for the Divine One.  On this side of heaven, God’s plan may seem slightly out of focus, but one day we may see clearly. Whether we see blessings before us or nothing but bleakness, God.has.this.

I have faced a number of significant losses this summer.  One loss triggers another.  The other day I was thinking about my father which triggered a life dream for me.   I had always thought that once my father died,  I would pursue a vocation that I have had for decades.  I would find a worthy mission and move to my beloved Africa.  I let go of that desire that day with great grief.  I am unsure that I will see the red soil again but I have surrendered that with open hands.

With loss comes memories and a range of emotions to sort through if one is willing to do the hard work of grieving.  I found myself smiling at photographs, weeping at words written, angry at how much some people need to endure, marveling at how beautiful our world is,  feeling peaceful among friends, and grateful for blessings.  Someone who is not too empathetic said to me today that I sure had been to a lot of funerals lately.  As I unpack emotions about my situation, I also have to sort through those that surface because of other people’s predicaments.

Some people have said to me that they could die before me–they could, for example, get hit by a bus.   This comment tends to be annoying to those of us who are dying because of it is trite and minimizes our truth.  However lately, I have begun to see that there is an element of truth to that.  I have been to several memorials/funerals since being diagnosed and as I sort through one of the latest sudden, unexpected deaths, I find myself reeling a bit. The firm foundation gave way to quicksand.  I managed to scramble out and then I took a few days to let reality sink in.  Life is not always fair. Most of us believe that we can move logically from point A to point B without too much trouble but when we are thrust to K and then catapulted back to F, life becomes uncertain. What do we do?  Where is the hand of God in this?  Is that how I did not get sucked under by the quicksand?  Am I still standing because I am being held fast?

The best of times balance the worst of times.  I have had good visits from folks over the summer.  The reconnections have been meaningful and precious. I have had fun social outings. I have found rest for my weary soul. I have enjoyed walks down memory lanes and felt incredibly blessed.  Hope has grown and flourished among the rocks that have come crashing down. The Darkness has not won. Wisdom has prevailed. God has clung to my hand and held me fast. At no time was I ever alone.

Extremes are mountain and valley experiences and I am a prairie girl at heart.  I must become comfortable with the whole of the landscape of life.  The Trinity is in all things.  I must let myself be held fast and know that whatever comes, nowhere will I not find God.

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

Have you experienced the best of times and the worst of times? Has God been there?

What does being held fast look or feel like to you?

Prayer

Hold me fast, Divine One.  Never let me be separated from you in the best or worst of times, in hope or despair, in belief or doubt, in Light or Dark, in bounty or bleakness.  Let us give you our hands even when we lack trust until we stand again on solid, sacred ground.  Amen.

 

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Grief Erupts

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The one thing I know about grief is you never know when the tsunami will wash over you, making it hard to breathe and find solid ground. There can be these serene, still waters around you and then bam! An unexpected wave hits and you are completely disoriented.  I have this box in which I have been tossing all of my medical and financial records connected to the cancer adventure.  I had to pull it out last night and sort through it because I need to fill out some forms.  I decided to organize it better than I had so I could find things quickly that I need.

I made a tactical error along the way though.  I did not ask for all my reports over these past two years but I did ask for some related to the embolization and resection.  I started reading them as I sorted.  I could feel anxiety rising which seemed odd to me.  I stopped for a moment, wondering what was going on for me.  My body went through trauma for 13 months.  I remember that I began to lose my hair in handfuls after surgery but before I began chemo.  I asked my family doctor if my body was finally reacting to the stress it had been through.  Running her fingers through my hair, she saw that the hair loss was abnormal and concurred that I was most probably right.  This phenomena only lasted a few weeks–no one else noticed but me.  I tried hard to love my body back into a safe space, praising it for how well it had done.  I talked about it with my counselor, thinking I was working my way through it. Reading the reports reminded me of all that I have been through physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. In many ways, I have never really fully processed all the distress I went through.  One hurdle after another needed to be jumped through and I just kept my eyes on the finish line which kept being extended.  Take these tests, inject this radioactive sugar into your body, feed the vampires in the lab, rule out another primary source of cancer, walk that chart of mine stamped urgent down the hall, try to understand the medical jargon, advocate strongly for myself, undergo this procedure that is still fairly new, be gracious to each medical team member, make final arrangements in case I do not survive surgery or die shortly thereafter, recover from surgery, figure out if those narcotics are more harmful than helpful, get used to this new body I have with the fancy zigzag scar, learn to trust yet another doctor to make proper decisions, start chemo, keep moving even when I feel like crap, be grateful, be positive, learn the cancer is back and has metastasized, live with the fact you may only have a year left, go on disability, make huge financial decisions that are not my forte, strip away each of my identities one by one until I am sure only that I am a child of God, make the unorthodox decision to stop chemo and give my poor body a break, choose to live until I die, and if this sentence is exhausting you, then you may understand why I began to cry last night.

As I filed away paper after paper of my disease, the reality of what I have done these past two years was overwhelming.  This was no pity party.  I saw in some ways for the first time what I had survived.  I thought I had known the enormity of it, but really I was just paddling like mad to keep my head above the water all this time.  I was making mental check marks on a list of completed tasks but I never essentially stopped to go over the entire list in one sitting.  This was me finally saying, Holy Mary Mother of God, look at what I went through! As the disease begins to progress now, I know that I must gear up for these next stages.  I have given my mind, body, and spirit the recreation they have needed.  I have trusted in God through it all and I will continue to trust.  Your prayers and love have carried me through too. I have seen God in it all.  I feel the cloak of Christ and the mantle of Mary wrapped around me. I took a big breath and continued sorting the box.

I smiled when I saw it–the purple notebook that my brother gave me labelled Things That Make Me Happy.  I had used it as a guest book of sorts.  Originally, I had imagined I would be sleeping quite a bit and wanted to track guests who came and went if that was the case.  The big surprise was that I did not nap as much as expected.  People wrote encouraging words in it at my direct request.  I reached for it with a smile.  I opened it and read the entries on the first page, feeling blessed once again by the sentiments expressed there.  I turned to page two and there was Dad’s signature at the top, followed by one word–a name he used when he left me telephone messages: Pa.  Two simple letters dissolved me into tears again.

Having taught many seminars on grief over the years, I know the importance of letting the pain out.  Holding it in does no good.  As much as I know I will see Dad in the twinkling of an eye in earthly terms, I still miss him greatly.  I have let myself weep only about a dozen times as we near the three-month mark of his death. I did not try to stop the emotion or reign it in.  I wept for my many losses these past two and a half years, knowing full well that Monday will be the 25th anniversary of my sister’s death.  Grief triggers all loss and I have always said that my body remembers things that I may not until I take the time to explore my emotions.

Last night was emotional but I am grateful for the insights.  I know that I am a strong, independent woman who can muster up courage when needed but I am also vulnerable and trusting.  I will not give in to despair and I will let the tears come in order to heal. They are a gift.  God has been more than merciful to me and has not left me orphaned.  On the contrary, God has surrounded me with love and support beyond my imaginings.  When grief erupts, I can appreciate the release of emotions that allow me to be freer and continue the adventure unhindered.  What a blessing!

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

When has grief unexpectedly erupted for  you?

What lessons has sorrow taught you?

Prayer

Who knew I had so much hidden inside that needed to be washed to the surface?  Who could comprehend that even though I thought I was paying attention that I was not completely understanding what was occurring?  Who but you, Holy One? May you accompany me through it all and wash me clean when the time is right.  Amen.

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No Answer At All

IMG_2635I have been thinking about the Gospel yesterday about the Canaanite woman who shouts at Jesus to have mercy on her because her daughter is tormented by a demon.  Mathew 15 says: But he did not answer her at all.  How many of us have been there?  We beg, we scream, we plead, we cuss, and we do everything and all we hear is silence from the Great Physician. The woman is relentless. She kneels down in front of him, asking for help.  He says cryptically that it is not fair to take away the food from the children and throw it to the dogs.  That might deter most people but not this woman.  She retorts that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.

Now if you own a dog or have friends that do, you know that some of them love to stare at you with those big puppy eyes, melting your resolve not to feed them crumbs from the tables.  They are much like that Canaanite woman who wears you down until you give in.  I sometimes slip a dog a nibble from my plate and Jesus grants the woman her request.

I have stood in that still silence, waiting for an answer and one does not seem to come.  What then when no treat is offered, not a tiny speck is held out?  What do we do then? Is God sleeping? Are we asking for something we should not?  Is this some mean-spirited test that I seem to be failing?  Is it my lack of trust or my inability to hear Christ’s response?  Am I not being relentless enough?  Do I need to whimper instead of shout? Surely there is a logic reason for my prayer not being answered?

I do not have an easy answer for this scenario.  I cannot tell you why the hatred of White Supremacists exists nor can I explain why good people, especially children, die in an untimely manner.  I cannot explain why half the world starves due to lack of food and the wealthier nations feed us images that drive young girls and women to eating disorders. I do not comprehend why women are constantly subjected to sexual violence and men have such messed up thinking about love and sex. I think these ferocious questions are often met with silence.  There might not be answers this side of the thin veil.  I do know that eventually the question finds a home in my soul and if I am fortunate enough, I might get a glimmer of why such things occur, but I am always unsettled by these ponderings.

I do not have a list of questions to demand answers from the Trinity when I arrive at the Gates. I have learned to embrace the Mystery and while I am not happy, I accept that I may get no answer at all.  Once on the other side of that Veil, I suspect, the answers will not be important.  The question that I will be asked will be the telling tale–what did you do to end these injustices, comfort those who needed to be consoled, and change what you could in your corner of the world?  That question will reckon an answer.  Silence will not be acceptable.

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

When have you received no answer at all?

What have you done to change what you could when you are faced with injustice, violence, and sorrow?

Prayer

Ask away, but be ready for the silence.  Keep knocking, keep asking, and keep seeking.  Omniscient One, grant that I may be relentless and that I may also be an agent of peace in this world. Amen.

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Wind Whispers

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Sitting outside on my balcony, I let the wind whisper to me tonight.  I was trying to read but I kept getting distracted by the rustling leaves on the trees as the wind told them secrets and helped them dance.  What a song they create together! I missed at the beginning how the river joined them and all creation seemed to be lifted by the song. The wind shook the leaves and then rippled across the river, scattering the stillness of the surface.  I had never noticed this quite in this way before tonight and was distracted by the sheer beauty of a rather ordinary moment as the sun set.

I continue to read Ann VosKamp’s book, The Broken Way.  The line that jumped out at me tonight was Lament is an outrage…that still trusts in God’s good outcome.  Ann has found out at this point in her book that yet another friend’s cancer has spread.  This past week the closed group on Facebook that I belong to has had a number of its members find out the same or that the cancer has returned.  Reading the posts is painful.  The page is a safe place for us to share our fears, anger, rage, and what I would call lament by Ann’s definition. We buoy each other up in that group and many of us trust in God’s good outcome despite the various faith backgrounds on it.

I am also trying to come to terms with the fact that my symptoms are progressing and that I sleep way too much for my liking.  Cancer fatigue is a hungry beast.  Nothing really helps.  I could sleep for days and I would still wake up tired.  My energy keeps diminishing and I grieve the loss of it.  My shortened days are frustrating to me as my to-do list is long and some items such as purging or visiting can only be done by me. This lesson to stay still and listen to the whispers of the wind is equally as important though.  The to-do list simply must wait sometimes while I tune into the Holy.  The wind has always had a special place in my soul.  I remember it vividly when I went to Greece, have fond memories of it in Hawaii coming off the ocean, hear its gentle call still from a retreat centre in Ohio, feel its wildness on the Ferry to Robben Island in South Africa….the Spirit has always found me and wrapped Her arms around me with love and grace.  The wind helps me to trust in the outcome.

As I sat there raptured by the sound and sight of the wind’s effect, I felt a nudge to open Facebook and saw this image, created by my friend’s daughter:

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You can buy her art via her Facebook page, Sagebrush and Sparrow Illustration.  This was perhaps the whispering of the Spirit for me when I opened my Facebook page and saw this as the first story.  I do not always feel brave on this journey but I know for a fact that someone, somewhere, needs to hear my story.  That is why I tell it.  I know for many who know and love me, it is surreal to think that I might not be here in a year.  The possibility is highly likely though.  In my spirit, for the first time, I get the sense that the end is coming sooner than I want it to.  I am beginning to feel an urgency and that saddens me because there is a part of me that also just wants to sit outside, marvel in the dance of Creation, and not have to think about what it means for all of you to let me go.  I am running out of steam and while I hope for a second wind, I am attentive to this Wind blowing, and know that one day, it will call my name to join in the Heavenly dance.

I know it is unfair that this earthly dance will end prematurely (in some people’s eyes) and yet I hope that you will trust in God’s good outcome and lament when you must.  I encourage you to do both.  This story I am telling is not only about my bravery but yours.  So many of you face this head on and show me how to stay focused.  I have seen some of the tears that many of you have tried to hide. I feel the love as you slip your arms around me and hold me tightly.  I am grateful for the small acts of kindness in the form of food and fellowship. Your faith and encouragement are a blessing.  I think listening tonight to the wind, I heard all of the prayers being lifted for me and watched them skip across the water towards me.  What a gift that was! Your desire to create lasting memories is precious to me.  I have had such a fun summer with so many of you who have come through to visit or those who have joined me locally for events.  You have made what might well be my last summer amazing.  You have no idea what this means to me.

I am going to keep telling my story for as long as I can here.  Thank you to all who are accompanying me in these posts.  Your fidelity strengthens me. Think of me in the whispers of the wind as summer throws itself into these last weeks of sun and fun.  I will do the same. Let’s join in the dance of Creation and be glad for every breathe we take.

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

What memories do you have of the wind whispering to you?

What is the story you must tell for others to know that they too can be brave?

Prayer

Wind-Whisperer, you tell us our story and invite us to join joyfully in the dance of Creation.  May we never miss the soft sound of Your voice calling us.  Help us to be brave and vulnerable at the same time so that our tale guides others down the path of Holiness. Amen.

 

 

 

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