Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Holiest of Holies...

I lie upon my bed,
Lord, I enter this place,
Sacred and true.
Your presence penetrating me,
A place inside my heart.
Jesus, my high priest,
You’ve opened the way.
I kneel and cry,
Inside my mind.
I prostrate myself before your Throne,
Hiding under your wings.
I am surrounded with sadness, oh Lord,
It will not depart from me.
I am surrounded by suffering, oh Lord,
Always before my eyes.
It tears at my soul.
Heal them, oh Lord…
These precious little ones.
Heal him, oh Lord…
My son.
Relieve these besieged parents,
Who attempt to understand.

I enter the Holy of Holies,
I find You there.
I feel your touch,
Safe and peaceful.
Your tenderness surrounds me,
Anxiety and fear fade away.
Finally, sleep washes over me.
I will search for You again,
As I cross the threshold of…
The Holiest of Holies…

In ancient Jewish faith, there were two rooms to the tabernacle - the Holy Place and the Holiest of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat were housed in this sacred space, the Holiest of Holies. Because God’s Holy Presence was there, only the high priest was allowed to enter into the Holiest of Holies.

A gold, purple or red veil separated this place from the rest of the tabernacle. When the priest entered, he wore a beautiful breastplate embedded with twelve stones. Sown into the hem of his robe were silver bells that rang when he went behind the veil. The continuous ringing of the bells helped the people know that he was still alive, while he entered the Holy Presence of God.

In the Christian faith, Jesus Christ’s birth, death and resurrection has opened the way for all believers to enter into His throne room, to stand before God in the Holiest of Holies. I enter this place each night in my mind, heart and spirit.

This is how I sleep. This is how I cope.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I am living in a field of landmines...

It is called childhood cancer. It’s a field fraught with fear and anxiety. It’s a field with no end in sight, at least not on this earth. Cautiously I take tentative steps as I navigate through this field. Sometimes it looks to be full of fragrant and colorful wildflowers or rolling hills of luscious green grass. Once the field was full of ancient, but dark imposing trees, another time it was a grey and barren wasteland. Once I spotted a bright rainbow gracefully arched across the misty horizon, a sure sign of hope.

But always, no matter what this field looks like, it is full of landmines hidden away ready to explode at the least provocation. One false step and I or someone I love could be maimed or blown away. One false step and everything changes. Walking with me are other childhood cancer families. Some skip happily along, others walk hesitantly holding their breath; still others refuse to move standing stagnant and frozen. And then there are those who one day suddenly step on a mine. The rest of us in the field are blown off our feet from the sheer force of the blast. We huddle together, crouching flat against the grass and dirt, praying for protection, praying for the victim.

It doesn’t matter if we think positive thoughts or have good karma and energy. It doesn’t matter if we have unwavering faith and constantly utter powerful prayers, we still could step on a landmine. There is no rhyme or reason as to who will be next. Each of us knows this with such assuredness . So we journey along together, these families who are mysteriously intertwined with mine. We encourage each other, support each other, and love each other, because we understand the dangers all around us. We know the intensity of uncertainty. We acknowledge the thin thread of hope we all cling to. We just know…

There are others who stand outside the field, who are not allowed in. They linger on the borders of the field cheering us on, watching and praying, but never having to navigate through the landmine laced field of childhood cancer. And for that, I praise God.

We are living in a field of landmines…

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My life is boring...

I visited with one of my neighbors the other day. I hadn’t seen much of her for quite a while. We’d never had what you would call a relationship like going to coffee or spending time together while our kids played. We’ve chatted with each other, standing on the street curb on a warm summers day or visited during our neighborhood’s annual garage sale. She has a husband and one child. Her boy is a few years older than Joshua. I knew she worked full time and that she came from a large family… nine children, I think. I remember how she showed up at our front door a day after our house burned on November 17th, 2000 with a basket full of cookies and some muffins. She was uncomfortable with our “tragedy” and mumbled how she wished she had more to offer us. I could see her compassion.

The house fire was scary, but I got all the children out and we were physically safe. We rebuilt and added on; I even got a whole new kitchen out of the deal! It took eight months. Joshua was six months old at the time. Somehow the girls continued on with their homeschooling and took care of him, while I ran back and forth from the rental house to our burned house dealing with contractors and trying to make a million different decisions. My husband was overseas for an entire month during the rebuilding. It was emotional and frustrating, especially when dealing with the insurance company, but we got through.

Then real tragedy struck when Joshua was diagnosed with cancer on October 21st, 2004. My neighbor stopped by with food again and a card this time. I don’t remember what she said or what she wrote in the card. I don’t remember what the food was, but I do remember the look in her eyes, pure fear and sorrow. I’m sure she was thinking about her own little guy. I did tell her about the web site, actually I told everyone about the web site, so I didn’t have to keep repeating the current status on Joshua during the year(s) of crisis. I was lost, but so thankful for that website.

So…I ran into her again a couple of weeks ago. It was a Sunday morning, a day I usually don’t go jogging, but I had time before church and I just needed to get out. I love the fresh, cold air on my face. I don’t mind the rain, which is a good thing, because we certainly have a lot of rain here during the winter months. Recently, I’ve been waking up with nightmares full of terror. They’re usually short dreams, always different, but they are so intense I startle awake with heart pounding and adrenaline coursing through my veins. When this happens, if it’s not in the middle of the night, I get up and release the tension with a jog/walk.

That morning, as I came around the corner after having powered up a huge hill, I saw my neighbor on the other side of the street with her small, long haired dog. I called out her name. She stopped and hugged me. We talked for a full fifteen minutes catching up on each other’s lives. But, I discovered, she was already knowledgeable about my family, because she still read Josh’s web site. She asked me a few questions about Josh, and then I wanted to change the subject, so I began to ask her about her life. Her son is in the fifth grade now, she told me. The U-haul I’d seen in front of her house the other day was her niece moving out. She and her husband had let the niece live there for a few months. She talked about the challenges of opening ones home to a young relative. We laughed.

Then she said, “My life is boring, actually. It’s just plain boring and I like that.” I countered with, “Boring is good.” And we parted.

I’ve pondered on those words for a while now. “My life is boring.” Maybe I spend too much time thinking, but that’s my nature. I’ve realized I want my life to be boring too. I don’t want to live a life filled with crisis after crisis. Is that what’s it’s been?...A rocky beginning to our marriage, a very premature first born child, a major job change when my husband turned forty, a house fire and childhood cancer? God has brought us through all of these tough times. But what about boring?

I’ve never liked that word, boring. I don't allow my children to use that word or any derivation of it. I’ve always told them if they say they are bored, that meant they were a boring person. I’ve reminded them how I can always find something for them to do if they tell me they are bored! And suddenly I realize…I’m bored! There has been no crisis for a year now. I know others in crisis, but not my family. I do not have to go to school with Josh this year. His teachers and the staff know how to care for him. The tyranny of the urgency of treatment and side effects are over or seem “normal” now. Two of my children are living away on college campuses and are thriving. I’m not working out side of the home. And I have margin in my life. The coveted margin…a time for healing, of which I wrote about in one of my earlier blogs. Now I find myself a little bored...with time on my hands.

I jog and climb the hills in my neighborhood. I grocery shop and fix dinner. I pick up the kids from school and drive them to their activities. I reserve Wednesdays for my hiking group. I read books, write and meet with girlfriends.

My life is so boring; I’ve gotten involved in a small Bible study again with women who are helping me heal and grow in my faith. My life is so boring; I plan to start serving lunches for families whose children have cancer and are being treated at the hospital where Joshua was treated. My life is so boring; I hope to help NW Sarcoma Foundation raise money for sarcoma research. My life is so boring, I may...where ever God leads me.

My life is boring…

Who knew boring would be so good.