For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Life is not what it used to be. I’m no longer the girl rolling the hoop down the hill. Somehow I’m not as carefree though I delight in the same activities as I once did. I still laugh in the midst of conversation and I embrace the company of friends. More often now though, when everyone has gone home, when the chairs are put up at the end of the day or when the house is empty I find myself as the silent observer, contemplating life and its complexities.
Every now and then I get to spend time with Emma. Today we shopped like two carefree, normal people, with normal lives. I bought shoes for the first time since Sam was diagnosed. Shoes are such an expression of a person. Don’t you think? They say that you are sporty, sassy, bold, daring, comfortable, sexy, sensible even frivolous. Shoes are the best indulgence, you can change who you are just as you change your shoes.
In February last year Sam and I took a detour from RNSH via David Jones on our way home. It was the first time we had been out since she was told she had Leukaemia. I had a voucher for David Jones, a gift from the class of 2008 and we spent it on shoes. Hers were black, mine were cream but both were high heeled with a t-bar and an ankle strap. Feminine shoes with a ruffle of folded leather down the centre.
“Cancer was not going to get in the way.”
That is what we thought. That was then before we knew that it would.
Cancer got in the way of everything. We moved from the pastel houses of suburbia to the castle of gloom on an isolated hill. We felt like freaks and I guess in a way we were. Only 304 Australians are diagnosed with ALL Leukaemia each year in Australia, only 40% are over 18 years of age, most of them are male. We felt like the creator had failed us somehow, that we would never survive but we were wrong about that too.
God has not failed us for a moment, His breath is constantly warm on our cheek, He caresses us, He holds us. He leads us down the dark passages where we have never been.
Spiral staircases shadow the dark corners and crevices, they are the circles in my mind, they are the questions that weave their way like a maze or labyrinth. I am buried deep in the processes of thinking and sometimes I lie awake trying to find the exit, trying to return. I feel God’s hand on my shoulder in the darkness; He needs not speak though sometimes He does. His touch is enough to remind me that He is the one who leads me down the corridors, that He is marking the path.
There are mysteries in the deep that He wants me to discover and as He guides me I seek.
“Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand). “Jeremiah 33:3 (Amplified Bible)
“God pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings deep shadows into the light.” Job 12:21,22 (New International Version)
In Kindergarten we continue our discussion about the weather. This is more about me than it is about them. In every moment He is teaching me and I am just a vessel through which He teaches the children.
One boy greets me at the door with ice he has frozen for the experiment. He tells me this, through a toothless grin, his eyes sparkling with delight. The children pester me for their ice cube so I put off what I’d planned and put cubes of ice into plastic cups and we watch it melt. God is not in a hurry. He wants us to take notice, He wants us to be captivated and see what he sees.
“The crystal is the last thing to melt,” the children tell me. “The clear bit turns to water first, then inside the crystal part shatters and suddenly it all melts.”
“Is that really true?” I asked them. I had got bored watching and checked the diaries instead. Now I wish I had watched to see what they saw and I understand why Jesus called the little children to himself.
I pondered all these conversations at 6am in the morning, recording them in my journal. I pray that God is forming me, chipping away the chaff, molding my life. I consider the intricacy of each snow crystal, the uniqueness of their design, the detail God puts into each one. I picture the white winter wonderland, the spaces He covers in snow, the beauty of it all. I take an imaginary walk with Charlie and Lola to the South Pole and I think about the polar bear. God reassures me that I am not invisible to Him but rather camouflaged for a season, for my protection and He is making me strong, equipped for the journey, that I will return with treasures from the deep.
It was a rich conversation with Emma in the car returning from shopping. We discussed the books we’ve been reading, the lessons we’ve been learning and her gift for encouraging words made me feel like I am the most interesting person she has ever met. I think maybe once I used to take these moments for granted but now they are treasured completely. They give me strength for the next wind that will inevitably blow. I realize that even in the moments we think He is breaking us or dissolving us completely, it is then that we are fluid in His hands. Surrendering all, we let Him have His way.
When Sam joins us in the lounge room I show her my shoes and in exchange she shows me the ulcers that have formed around her tongue. Perhaps the mucostitis has returned, perhaps we need to increase the prednisone again. My heart skips a beat; there are so many questions, so much still to know, so we will go on seeking until He completes the work He has begun.
And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. Philippians 1:6 (Amplified Bible)