Today was a long, hard, but in many ways good day. I am exhausted this evening and know this will be short, but I did feel like writing.
I spent the day downtown: first, visiting with my dear friend Erin, who went through surgery yesterday where she had a number of cancerous tumors removed; second, getting my second of three brain radiation treatments; and third, having an appointment with an ENT about the terrible pain, pressure, and fluid in my ear.
All of that put together, with a lunch in there somewhere with my precious husband, was wonderful in some ways, sad in others, and just plain tiring overall to this very tired body. I spent most of our way into town this morning crying because the bright sunlight, so beautiful on the autumn trees, was triggering headaches (which can happen sometimes right now). I spent other parts of the day smiling: over Erin's sweet grogginess and the chance we had to hug each other and the opportunity I had to pray for her; over my radiologist Anthony's kind chuckle and pleasant spirit; over the kindness of my husband every time I melted into tears after this hard week in my own cancer journey; over the compassion and care of various doctors and nurses and restaurant workers along the way; over the beauty of red leaves on bushes; and yes, over the beautiful photograph of a butterfly in the exam room at my ENT's office.
I was in the room for quite a while since they were trying to get in touch with my neurosurgeon, and I spent that time looking at the photo and contemplating the beauty of the butterfly. I'm not sure what kind if was, but it was mostly black with teal spots on its wings. As I meditated on this lovely creature, I found myself looking back and forth between the two wings and noticing the symmetry between the patterns on each side of its body. I found myself realizing how much they looked like a painter's carefully composed strokes. And I found myself wondering, not for the first time in my life, "How can someone look at a creature like this and not see grand design?"
Even in the midst of the worst pain and suffering of my life this year, I am grateful to find moments where I am reminded of the beauty and grace of God's loving design. I felt it today in notes from friends, in the butterfly's wings, in the words God sent to me on the radiation table when I was praying for protection from the radiation (asking him to help it do all it needed to do but not to harm me in any way) -- that last was kind of comical, because Anthony had spent a while needing to tip my head up to get the mask set right around my chin, and when I asked the Lord for words to meditate on as I prayed for protection, what did he send me? "Thou oh Lord, art a shield about me, you're my glory and the lifter of my head!" (Psalm 3:3) I saw his design in the craft tables set out in the hospital cafe space, where I ran across a craftswoman who had created a beautiful card and key chain with the EXACT verse that the Lord gave me when I first discovered I had cancer last February: "The Lord will fight for you -- you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:14). I needed that word again today; I truly needed it.
There are times, I will confess, when right now I feel like my life is filled with chaos. I do not understand why I am so sick, or why others I love are so sick, and why our nation and world are in such pain. I do not understand why all these things are allowed by the God I love. I do not understand everything he is teaching me through it.
But I know he is keeping me upright. And I know his design is beautiful, loving, and true, even if right now all I see are the tangled threads on the back side of the tapestry. One day it will be flipped over for me, and I will see it in the light of his countenance, the whole beautiful, glowing, golden design. Until then, I will just keep trusting him and holding his hand. And I will keep looking for grace notes.