Monday, May 09, 2011
Maybe the Lord simply uses these days to walk with me, to open my heart and my eyes and my ears.
But instead of being pulled along pell-mell by the rushing whims of life, I get the chance to stop. To think. To pray and to (just occasionally) listen to the odd answer or two.
Now this has been an unusual holiday. There were the traditional moments - Chris took Ben & I to Universal for a day, for which I was very, very grateful. We had a blast. Ben made me ride on every vomit-inducing ride known to humankind, and I pretty much made it through in one piece. I even enjoyed moments of the experience.
(And the gift shops are hilarious - of course, people here have Hispanic names, but if you don't remember that for a moment, shot glasses are an unusual gift when they come with the name "Jesus" on them...)
Talking of usual thing I do here on holiday... Shopping. Not so much this year. But here's a picture of Jazz the German Shepherd getting ready to help me. He is adorable. Still a pup, enormous, delighting in playing with every squeaky toy he can find, he snuggles up alongside you on the bed and barks in your ear if you won't join in his games. And he loves swimming in the pool. Though the strict dog owner in me rather recoils at Gill's habit of feeding him jelly beans and ice cream...
Gill. Of course. It's barely a month since she had the operation to remove the breast cancer. When I got here she was had only just had her first chemo. That first week was rough for her. My sister is a strong, feisty lady, and seeing her suffer was not nice. Worse for her. I am glad I have been here to get some groceries, go to the pharmacy, chauffeur her around, take her to the hospital and just feel a little helpful.
And she has been amazing. Sure, she's had a couple of dips. But when you are going at something as full on as she is (she went to work between the op & the chemo; she's back at work again, with hardly a break now) there are going to be dips.
Everyone here is wearing "Team Gill" wristbands. When she had her hair shaved off (she didn't want it just to fall out) around ten of her work colleagues had theirs shaved in solidarity. Even Ben had his beloved locks cut short! (See, they all want to look like me...) And both Gill & Ben look amazing.
She wrote on her Facebook: "If He brings you to it, He brings you through it." She's having the full show. Pretty much the full range of side effects. But the Lord is bringing her through it. One down, seven to go.
I went to church this morning with Scarlette, Chuck, Sydney & Trey. They are a wonderful family, and Scarlette is a good friend to Gill. Church & I had a beer & a chat earlier in the week, and it's his bike I've been riding for those of you who have been following on Facebook. The sermon was excellent - on letting go of people that damage us, moments & relationships that hurt. "Hurt people hurt people" was a good aphorism, not in a way that we should drop such people, but in the way that recognises our own hurts, and takes us from there so that we should seek to become healed people because healed people heal people. The preacher's points were that we should hand to God our grudges, our griefs and our guilt in the relationships that have broken us. I thought he made some very good points along the way, and there was a genuine sense of those present being touched by God through his words.
I found it personally touching, not so much because of the particular subject, but because I guess of the stage I am at in preparing to leave Pontypridd and also in being here with Gill, I'd had quite a moving dream last night. I guess I'm going through a grieving process in leaving Ponty, and though all is going well with Gill it has been very emotional for all of us. So without boring you with all the details, there came a point in that dream when I found myself weeping profusely, and I was aware that it was due to the grief at all I was facing. And then in church, it was as if the preacher was taking me on from that place. Grief is good; but there is a time to leave it with God - blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. You can't live for today if you are consumed by the past. And as important as Friday is, we are Sunday people - we could not be who we are without the cross, but we live a resurrection life.
And I too felt the presence of God in the gymnasium in the High School where the church was meeting. Laying down some of the things that bring us sadness is not to forget or to belittle what has gone before; but it is to trust God and to let go of the things that we now cannot change so that we may live more fully today, in the day and amongst the people we still may affect for good. Love is present tense, a risen reality, not to be kept locked away in a tomb and to keep us there with it. We give our griefs to Jesus; he gives us his peace, and his joy. Behold, he does something new.
So it's time to get ready to come home. Time for something new. Time to live again after the restorative interval of a break away. Time out over; time to fly.