Silver Linings

Last night, I had picked up on a Twitter conversation about this article. I hadn't read it myself. Not yet. Still, I knew that I wanted to read it as so many preachers seemed to have been working these pearls of wisdom in their sermons. I would still like to read these sermons -- though I really couldn't finish the article.

I still have a wee bit of insomnia. Last week, after I'd heard that my stepmother had made it out of surgery just fine, my best friend told me I should acquire a good prescription for sleeping pills but that still seems too severe to me. I had the news about the pathology report. I knew that they had "gotten it" and that the damn cancer hadn't oozed its way into the lymph nodes. (I'm saying damn a lot lately. Sorry about that.) We also found out that it's one of the most aggressive forms of cancer there is. They gave a name with letters and numbers. I don't recall and I'm not the type that goes to the internet to find every little bit of information out. Well, at least, I'm not about this. So, there will be radiation. There may be chemotherapy. There will definitely be a third and fourth opinion from what I can only gather to be the best oncologists my stepmother can find. Still, I'm unsettled.

I don't really believe it.  Tell me about science.  Tell me all you want.  There's something about this particular disease that makes me shut down. I knew this in CPE. In fact, it was sung to me over and over again so that I had to deal with the fact. The first issue I had in CPE was not having a panic attack every time I stepped into the hospital. (Um, yes, it was that bad.) Then, I had to deal with the supervisor (whom I didn't enjoy at all) insisting that I deal with the reality that not everyone dies when they come to the hospital. Yes, I got over that so that I can know walk in and out of the hospital with ease. I can stay there at the bedside. I can be the non-anxious presence I was told was the pastoral ideal.

Still, I don't believe this. The word cancer halts all reality. It whips me back into some place where logic never really existed. Not for me. That word sucks me into place where I assume it -- the damn cancer -- will win. Eventually. It always wins. There are hands that I have held that haven't shattered this place. There are tears that I've shed while driving to the burial to say prayers for those that heard this diagnosis too. There people even now in our church that struggle with the reality that the damn cancer keeps coming back. For those people, there is no silver lining. Or at least, it's really not that easy to find.

I know that my stepmother would strongly resonate with the words that appeared in this Sunday column. I'm grateful. I hope she always finds that silver lining but there is part of me that is too broken to find a silver lining in this. Definitely not in this. Except that this is exactly what I pushed the confirmands on yesterday.

They were planning worship centered around Psalm 5 for the day of their Confirmation. (The Lectionary left with them with some crappy texts, but that's not the irony here.) One of the girls planning the children's sermon wanted to ask the children about their fears.  She wanted to point to those things that scare us -- like thunderstorms -- and remind the children that God's presence comes when the sun shines again. It's the silver lining that makes God visible, she seemed to say. Of course, I wouldn't let that slide. I pushed her. I asked her if God could also be in the thunderstorm too. She was shy about her answer, but ultimately told me that God wasn't in the bad stuff. God was waiting for you when it was over. Though I tried really, really, really, really hard not to roll my eyes at her horribly trite theology, I wish I had that kind of faith right now. I wish I could simply be content with the silver linings.


Sarah K. said...

Oh, Elsa. I'm so sorry to hear about your step mother. You describe the workings of my mind and heart so well--you must be just beside yourself. I'm sending prayers!

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