"The word happiness would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness."
"Our job is to appreciate the opposites and remember that we get the most out of life in the dynamic pull between them: happiness and misery, love and hate, work and leisure."
--Mina Parker, "Less is More"
Today started out promising enough. Getting ready for church with a sore throat and headache, knowing I'd just have to be energetic and cheerful for a couple of hours before I could come home and have time to rest and heal.
Then I got to church and was instantly cornered by an unhappy person... I listened patiently, gave the best answer I could, and told this person we would try to do better next time. What else can you do? It was about something that was over and done with (and I had nothing to do with!)... Onward.
Worship began. I was the worship leader and things started off with good energy. Then I took my seat as we began to hear each other's joys and concerns (people's prayer requests). There were many joys shared that made me smile - graduations, birthdays, a 61st wedding anniversary! But then one came that broke my heart... Over the last year, I have had the privelege of praying every Thursday night with someone who is relatively new to our congregation. She came with a very serious form of cancer that spreads quickly, and that doctors have all but given up on. Last March, after much praying, she came with news that she found a doctor that would do one last surgery! She had it done and they got everything! I cried with relief... and thanked God over and over again.
She was doing well - she got to travel, was excited to be washing windows this spring, and has had a peaceful smile whenever I've seen her lately. But I still continue to light a candle every Thursday night for her... Worried that this may be short lived.
In church on Sunday, we were informed that she was back in the hospital. Her cancer has returned in a big way. As Pastor Penny spoke this from the pulpit, I was grateful I had a seat in the back... The tears started flowing and wouldn't stop. I made it through the prayer time, unable to speak the words of the Lord's Prayer... but praying nonetheless.
Then, a lovely lady from our congregation that plays the harp like an angel stood up to play. She would be playing a song titled "How Long?" and first gave a speech about what the song meant to her... She has lost two children and her husband - she had a lot to say about life being short, and the Lord always being ready to called us His "beloved" and bring us home...
Oh yeah. I was a mess! I got up and left the sanctuary, unable to keep the tears in check any longer. I went in my office and let them flow as she sang and played... When I thought I was ready, I went into the ladies' room to clean myself up... Just as I was about ready to rejoin the congregation, another woman walked into the bathroom and gave me a hug. She stood there and listened, comforted, and told me what a lucky -and blessed - lady to have me care so much for her. She hugged me again and left the room.
We're surrounded by angels. Her words calmed me down and enabled me to re-enter worship with a hopeful heart.
I don't think I've felt sadness this deep in a long time. This woman has taught me what real hope is. What fighting for your life looks like. What it means to be truly alive in the midst of fear and sickness. She's shown me what it is to appreciate every moment - including cleaning windows! I feel a connection to her that I've never felt before... So my prayers will continue. And maybe you could say a prayer for her, too?
I've been told sometimes that I write too often about happy things, about how good life is - and not enough about the things that frustrate, anger, and sadden me. Well, I think I'm able to let a lot of things go fairly easily... But this one will be on my heart for a long time. You may hear about it again. It's just another reminder to be thankful for the life you have, appreciate each moment, and stay close to loved ones. Life's too short not to.
Things I am thankful for today:
1. 50 people from our congregation going to a Twins Game in August!
2. Cecilia's hug.
3. Coming home to sweatpants and naps.
4. Watching "Marley and Me" - if you're a dog lover and you need a good cry, this is it! My hubby and I both sobbed!
5. Getting some of the house cleaned.
6. The hubby coming to get me when the song "Dixie the Weiner Dog" came on the radio. (He knows it makes me laugh.)
7. One of my best friend's is having another baby! Our goddaughter will have a sibling!
8. A youth group kid and I talking about our shared love of sushi and pulled pork sandwiches. Too funny.
9. The sun peaked out for a moment this evening.
10. All of our lilies are blooming!