Last weekend I enjoyed waiting out Hurricane Irene with two of my closest friends. We had a wonderful time sharing two of our babies and a new home, and just catching up. I am continuously amazed by the beauty of these two women-not only in how they live their own lives but in how they love me.
We went to mass early, on Saturday night, just in case we couldn’t make it on Sunday due to Irene. After the homily, I was sitting, contemplating what the Priest had said while cuddling with my sweet baby who was asleep and snoring quietly. I smiled as the pianist began playing the familiar tune of “What Wondrous Love is This?,” a favorite hymn of mine. Singing the words with two of my dear friends and hearing their unique, beautiful voices blending with mine was lovely. But when we began singing the fourth verse, I suddenly found it hard to catch my breath. Though I squeezed my eyes tightly together, I couldn’t stop tears from falling down my face. These were the words that stopped me in my tracks:
“And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on; And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on. And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be; And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on; And through eternity, I’ll sing on.”
Standing there, feeling my son’s chest rise and fall against mine, hearing the voices of my two dear friends, and watching the rain fall through the windows of the church, I was once again reminded of how beautiful life is. And how much I love it. And instead of thinking about what a blessing this moment was, and letting my weak heart be filled with faith and the knowledge that through Jesus, God has triumphed over death, I felt fear. My throat tightened with the fear of losing the earthly things I so love: my family, my friends, and the beauty of nature.
Now, I’m not beating myself up about this. I know that I am only human, and that though I try to have a strong faith in life after death and God’s will for my life, it is only natural that it scare me as well. Moreover, how sad it would be if I didn’t find my life so beautiful-beautiful enough to cry over the thought of losing it. But, at the same time, my tears that day reminded me once again of my brokenness, and the need to try to set my mind and heart on the things above, not earthly things.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
When I began crying at mass, my friend who was sitting next to me wordlessly reached out her hand and took mine. She held it tightly throughout the song, and through the following prayers. She cried with me. We never talked about what had happened during mass afterwards, and she didn’t feel the need to explain what her actions had meant. It was understood, and we let it be. And even though she couldn’t give me answers to the questions running through my head, her touch brought me the comfort I needed. Moreover, it reminded me that even though I can’t hear God’s voice answering the many questions I ask Him in my prayers, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t love me. Rather, His ways are beyond my understanding, and right now is not the time for answers. And even though His voice may be silent right now, He is still showing me how He loves me-through the many people who are blessings in my life.
Throughout my journey with cancer and the premature birth of my son, there have been many instances where words weren’t enough. And not only would they not have been enough, they wouldn’t even come. As it was difficult for me to know what to say to my sweet son as he struggled for his life, I know that it was difficult for my family to know what to say to me as I struggled for mine. Of course I was told I was loved many times, and so was John Paul. But still, what comforted me the most was the touch of my family and friends-the touches that said, without words, how deeply they loved me.
My prayer for you today is that you remember that God is holding you, always, even when you struggle to hear His voice. Treasure how He holds you, and be as Christ to others-offering your loving touch, even when you don’t have the words to ease their pain and suffering. Set your mind and heart on what is above and keep your hope in Jesus, who through His suffering triumphed over death.
Thank you so very much to those of you who have helped my brother raise over $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We are overwhelmed by your generosity, and so grateful. You are helping to improve and save the lives of those with blood cancers.
To donate, go here: http://www.active.com/donate/racingforallison
To read about why my brother and I chose the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society see my previous blog post here: http://be-not-afraid.org/2011/08/30/raising-money-for-the-leukemia-lymphoma-society/