Monday, May 19, 2014

The light that breaks through all things broken

“The cynics, they can only speak of the dark, of the obvious, and this is not hard. For all it’s supposed sophistication, it’s cynicism that’s simplistic. In a fallen world, how profound is to see the cracks? The sages and prophets, the disciples and revolutionaries, they are the ones up on the ramparts, up on the wall pointing to the dawn of the new Kingdom coming, pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken, pointing to redemption always rising and to the Blazing God who never sleeps.” Ann Voskamp

I never take this for granted.  The way the evening light slants through my west window and falls across my bed.  Everything changes as the sun slips further away.  The window is open, and I hear children playing and birds singing.  This bright air is the stuff I longed for, hoped for, begged for when I was in the basement.  Remember those days?

Last Tuesday I somehow stumbled into the emergency room with the most painful headache I've ever suffered.  Yes, I know, it's hard to quantify my head and pain on any traditional scale, but this was the worst.  It began on Saturday, following the IVIG infusions and escalated.  By Sunday night I was throwing up from the pain.  All common sense would have sent me seeking help on Monday, but I hid with my face under the covers to try and wait it out.  I made deals with God about what else I could offer Him in exchange for keeping me out of the hospital again.  By Tuesday morning if I stood up at all it was like an ice pick was being jammed in my brain.  It made me stumble and fall over.  In my pride I did not communicate the seriousness of my condition and foolishly drove Delaney to her career day at a local furniture and design shop.  I somehow made it two more exits to the ER.

Dan and I always joke it will be my NOT seeking medical care that will eventually kill me.  I know that is hard for you to imagine since I am always at the doctor or hospital, but believe it or not I avoid seeking intervention at the worst times.  I knew in my heart there was something very wrong with me, and I would be admitted.  I just couldn't bear it.

The ER team at Mercy was wonderful and understood the complexity of my conditions and called my neurosurgeon in Maryland immediately.  He ordered an LP which showed heightened white cell count as did my blood.  I had aseptic meningitis.  This is not caused by a bacteria but rather from some kind of chemical or virus.  About half of aseptic cases are caused by Cocksackie, strangely enough one of the persistent viruses we were attempting to treat with the plasma exchange and IVIG. There is no way to be sure if it was the IVIG or Cocksackie or another virus.  I drifted in and out the first days in the hospital.  I know I had phone conversations and visitors and even posted on facebook, but I don't remember most of it.  I had the best nurses and an amazing infectious disease doctor and neurologist overseeing my care.  They were so kind and let me advocate believing I was the one who understood my body and medical history the best. The outcome was good even with some usual bumps in the road. What we know for sure is IF IT CAN HAPPEN IT WILL HAPPEN to me. This was a reminder to me to read the fine print and ALL the risks, because I'm likely to fall in that category. Even the most annoying things like my bladder refusing to empty after lidocaine in my back and the ridiculous tongue thing swelling up tonight that ALWAYS plagues me after IV antibiotics are maddening but almost expected now.

When I was released on Friday I felt numb.  I truly hadn't prayed at all those days in the hospital.  For many reasons it was the absolutely wrong place at the wrong time for me.  I was sure God had really messed up this time.  I came home and fell into bed.  I don't remember ever sleeping as long and as soundly as I did Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night.  I didn't take any of my medications.  I just slept.  I sensed the family was moving around me in their normal routines.  I don't remember eating or getting up to go to the bathroom, although I'm sure I did.  I only remember sleeping. Sunday I woke up and felt wicked weak.  I knew I had to face what happened mentally, emotionally and spiritually, but I couldn't bring myself there.  I watched twelve straight hours of HGTV.  Yes, I was still numb.

I woke up this morning with a choice.  I could crawl back in bed and sulk another day or put on my big girl panties and start going through the motions again.  I threw open the windows and turned on praise.  I ate oatmeal and got on my knees at my prayer bench with absolutely nothing to say.  Like so many times before the ritual took my hard, cynical heart and moved it into a softer place.  I am convinced I cannot get on my knees with my head bowed and not find Him waiting there.  I begin to let go, repent, release all my expectations for the past week and look closer at what He is really doing. It's like Ann writes,

“Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control, let go of my own way, let go of my own fears. Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy's fire. Leave the hand open and be. Be at peace. Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper a surprised thanks. This is the fuel for joy's flame. Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will. And I can empty. I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.”

He only gives love.

I can trust.

I showered.  I shaved my legs.  I blow dried my oh so grey hair.  I put on tinted moisturizer and some lip gloss.  Looking in the mirror I only see glimpses of who I think I am.  The jagged scar at my neck from my cath and the pic line hanging from my doughy arm reminds me I am wasting away even as I fight to hold on.  I put on one of my word necklaces.  It says "restore."  I hold it in my fingers a moment and recite the verse, "He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul."

My angel friend comes over and picks me up.  She texted early to see if I was ready to face the world. She took me to a beautiful path for a short walk.  There were whispering trees overhead just filling in with leaves.  There was a small creek running along side us.  The sun was the perfect mix of warmth with the spring breeze.  I took a breath.  I turned my face toward the light.  Just like the getting on my knees, this ritual of walking, moving one foot in front of the other when I don't know what else to do or what else matters any more is the body leading the mind and the heart.  This sacred practice moves me closer to Him and the light that breaks through all thing broken.

We stopped at the grocery store, and I bought real food to feed my family.  It seemed a small thing, but if you could have seen the look on my girl's faces when they saw we were having chicken and potatoes and peas instead of Wendy's drive thru.  Another simple habit we hold dear in our home.  It's the breaking of bread.  It's THE GIVING THANKS.  It's the waking to gather manna for another day.

He only gives love.

I can trust.

Just like that I lived a day.  A real day.  I wasn't numb anymore.  I felt joy.  I felt gratitude.  I felt hope. The sun is almost gone now, but I carry a light inside me into this night.  It breaks through all the broken things from this past month . . . this past week and refuses to be snuffed out.   "It is pointing to redemption always rising and to the Blazing God who never sleeps."

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