Quiet. It’s very quiet at the Cancer center. They try to cover it up with classical music playing softly through invisible speakers constructed by some medical 007 musical research team. But, even high class, spy created music cannot drown out the quiet. The quiet keeps growing. It gets louder with every person who walks through the door. The quiet grows in the hush of emotions being held in check. The quiet is the sound of the tension between managing fear and hope.The quiet is the holding of breath before the breaking of news.
I am: not quiet.
In trying to keep myself from being driven mad by the quiet-(And driving everyone else nuts in the process-) I tend to pace, knit, listen to music or books on my iPod , read and or wander, while we wait. Sometimes all of the above at the same time. Trust me. But it’s not just an abundance of nervous energy.
The truth is: I’m looking for God. I’m desperate for a reminder of his presence in this place. In the quiet.
Most of the time- I find something. A word. A visual. Something. A tiny nest of peace found in storm of anxious silence.
Last week- I found: nothing.
I walked around the corner. I looked at every piece of art, (Art therapy is big at cancer centers. Gotta love that.) expecting to find some little reminder. A bird. A nest. SOMETHING. I found: Nada. Nothing. Pretty, challenging and intriguing stuff. But: NOTHING.
I did the magic bible trick-(Come on- we all know the magic bible trick- it’s when you ask God to say SOMETHING and then flip open your bible like a leather magic 8 ball and “claim” what is written there as a personal promise.) I landed on the blank leaf between old and new testaments. I tried the spiritual discipline of iPod shuffle. (Same deal- just with your iPod.) A random Lascivious Biddies song popped up. I feared my ipod would spontaneously combust due to some “Nothing but classical Music” cancer center policy that I probably received a copy of, but never read. (Cancer= a lot of papers. Like- if we stopped printing so much rainforest devastating cancer information paper- we could find the cancer cure- amount of paper. Justsayin. it’s a lot. I don’t read it all. Of course. )
I thought maybe God was just running a little late. I mean- When we went to the Radiation treatments- there was a nest. So of course there’d be one here, too. That’s “our thing.” (Mine and God’s we have a “thing” we’re that close. Of course.) Nope. No nest. I watched out the window on the drive home- as we not so quietly made all the phone calls and emails necessary to pass along the “news.” (So. Not. Fun. Just saying. Dealing with our own responses is hard enough- but then you go over and over it….. it’s exhausting.)
Now- I could cheat- and make this a better story by saying- “When I got home a robin had nested on our front door.” But: that would be lying. There is a nest on our front door-one I put there. In the “God showing up magically to comfort” category- that totally doesn’t count. Once we got in the house- I could say that every where I looked I saw reminder of His presence. (Which would be partly true- because we now have so many nests and bird type things that it looks like an aviary.) But somehow- that day? The same objects that have so many times been visual reminders of God’s love and presence- seemed to have caught the cancer center silence bug.
They said: Nothing.
No Magic Bible trick. No iPod blessing. No Nests. No writing on the wall. Just: Cancer.
Then: tears. (The bathroom is a grand place for moms to cry. )
Then: truth. (Spoken by my husband, and two older kids.)
Then: friends who love me even when I’m a jerk. (I was. I was disappointed, stressed, afraid, angry and grieving. Not exactly conducive to good bible study member participation. Upon arriving: I may have announced: “I don’t care what Jen Hatmaker has to say, today.” Sorry- Jen. I just: didn’t. The “7” things most concerning me at that moment were: my husband, my family, surviving this mess, killing cancer, not killing anyone else, not losing my mind and the question: “Where the heck IS God?” Good thing she’s not a blog reader:P)
Finally. A the end of the day. In my comfy chair. With an ice pack on my neck- I crashed. I cried. I was [almost] equally as frustrated and disappointed that God hadn’t sent me a special “I’ll be with you” message, as I was about the actual cancer news.
I KNOW I can’t do this on my own. I know that this is more than I can handle. I know I can and need to depend on God to be here. Yes, even here.
Which is why I was so ticked that he hadn’t “shown up.” I mean- he had all those other times…. why not today?
Which is about the moment, I remembered all the times He already had sent messages of love and presence.
Which is also about the time I realized: I’ve become more nest dependent, than God dependent.
I’ve made the reminders of his presence more important than His actual presence.
In my busyness of LOOKING for a reminder of God’s presence…- I totally missed out on his promise to never leave or forsake me.
Even when I can’t see him. He is there.
Yes, in the silence. In the pain. In the fear. In the art- but most importantly- in the heart……
Which is where he belongs. Not a nest.
(Jesus = not an egg that can be scrambled- justsayin.)
Dear Lord- Thank you for a presence that surpasses my understanding and my bi-focal needing vision. Thank you for being there when I can’t see, hear or feel you. For being there in the quiet. In the mess. Even Here. I love you lord.
Reader- maybe today you’re wondering where the heck God is. Maybe you’ve turned over every rock, looked in every branch- but you just can’t find that “reminder” you need.
Let this be it-
Deut 31:6 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Facts cannot be seen. They must be believed. God’s presence is a fact to be believed in- not an artifact to be searched for. Stop searching- start believing.
I’ll do the same.
I’ll also be keeping my eyes open…. I still love those special reminders…. :)