Being home Saturday with Allistaire, seeing her move from one room to another, doing the things she used to do…finally it started to sink in, finally I started to believe that God may have given me back my life. Somehow it felt like, as the minutes of the days progressed, that I was stepping back in to where life had left off, as though the past 51 days since this began had all been a bad dream. Of course Solveig, is not here and we have to use Press & Seal to cover up tubes that hang out of Allistaire’s chest and flush her lines every day and return to the hospital in several days for more chemo. Life is quite clearly not what it was, but these are just details and their end is in sight. It seems that, if the wonderful results are true, that God took us radically off course for a time. To say that we have been off course though makes it seem like an accident, like some mistake, as though the right path was not taken. To say that God willfully allowed Allistaire to have cancer is hard to swallow, it gets at the question of how a good God can do such a thing, or at the very least, be a bystander. It is nearly midnight now, and as often seems to be the case, I find myself starring at this question and usually late at night when I feel incapable of delving into the depths of this mystery. This is such a significant question, I think perhaps the ultimate question: is God really good like He claims to be? How can I believe this in light of all that is so clearly wrong in the world? How can one make sense of pain and suffering in the world? Is it only a cop-out to say that it is a mystery? That God’s ways are not our ways? While I do believe there is a fair amount to consider and say on this topic, nevertheless, much remains mystery.
What I can say is this, the life that God seems to be giving me is not the life I had, it is an altered life. There are new qualities and dimensions to my life that were not previously present, or perhaps were in such a seed-like form that they were unrecognizable as newly growing life. A seed is often unlovely and does not readily draw one to itself, but it is the substance from which life and beauty and fruit eventually come. I cannot quantify the breadth and depth or give a numerical value to thankfulness, to deep seated rest and satisfaction, to expanded empathy and compassion, to peace, to hope. I cannot measure out for you the extent of abundance that is rising up from these days. All of these and more have merely begun to unfurl. I do not know how far they may reach. How can I set these next to the readily evident value of my beloved’s life and claim that they are somehow on par, or perhaps dare I say, of possible greater value? I know, it is the one thing that even suggesting seems so wretchedly wrong. How, if I really love my child, can I even utter these words? How could anything be worth Allistaire’s life? I believe that so much of this is about scale. I do not believe that God is in any way devaluing Allistaire’s life. I think that it is the very great and known value of Allistaire’s life that allows me to see, in greater clarity, the greatness of what God is offering. What is it then that God is offering? He is offering the truest means of the most abundant life which is relationship with Him, resting in His absolute goodness. But this isn’t just goodness, like all prim and proper and staunch, this a goodness that is sweet, a goodness with the zing of ginger and tang of lime, a goodness that is giddy with delight for us. Why must pain be a part or even a means of entering into this communion with God? There is so much to this question, so much that so many have wrestled with throughout time. I ask another question, is it possible that there is nothing of greater value than coming closer to the living God and having the veil pulled back a bit to see more of who He truly is?
In the few months before Solveig was born I found myself a little depressed. I could tangibly point to the things that would be lost with the arrival of a child in our life. So much freedom would be exchanged for constraint. No more fun Friday nights going out to dinner and a late night movie. No more day long road trips. A lot less spending money for fun things. No more of the sweetness of it being just Sten and I. Once I had Solveig, I wondered how I could ever convince anyone without kids that taking in the sweet curve of her cheek, that watching her chubby hand hold a crayon, or the sound of a squeal of delight could possibly be worth what one gives up when you have kids. It just seems sappy and cliche. But if you’ve held your own child, you know in a flash in the deepest, truest part of yourself, that none of those things lost can compare with what you have gained. It does not change the fact that they are lost or that they had value in your life. This is an imperfect comparison, but it begins to describe what I sense God is doing in my life. He is bit by bit, revealing more of Himself to me and it is a treasure that cannot be constrained by the finiteness of words or of dimensions know to us. Yes, it can all seem like a cop-out; mystery is a handy explanation. Yet, I have tasted of the Lord. He has not given me back the life I had. He has given me back an enlarged life, a more resplendent life, a life whose flashing colors have no name in our own tongue. Would these words come from me if the results of the bone marrow test had been what I most feared. I tremble to say yes, but I cannot know because at least for today, it is not what He has given me. I thank God today that He has given me more, far more than He has taken.
*Also, I’m SO bummed – I have such a sweet video of Allistaire playing and dancing in her room that I am just having a heck of a time with – nothing I do will make it work on here. So for now, sorry to deprive you of such wonderment but I’ll keep working to figure out the glitch.