Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Heading Home

We didn’t plan it.

Cancer unfolded like it does for most everyone.  A single appointment. A phone call. An unsolicited path that takes you to places you didn’t want to travel.

It certainly wasn’t the first detour in my life. I suppose it won’t be the last.

This pilgrimage has taken me on long stretches of desolate highway. Both literally and in other ways.

In the beginning, the actual commutes were frequent and filled with barren miles and hours to think about life and faith and what is really important to do with the few years that are given to walk all of that out.

We were pushed to step out of our small town and comfortable home and journey to the city where my surgeon, oncologist and a team of professionals uses the newest technology and protocol.

For us, things in the city seemed to be in extremes. The sheer numbers of people. The rushing and hustle even while they ate or shopped. In traffic, there was either a complete disregard of speed limits or four-lane highway traffic creeping along, taking an hour to move a single mile.

The buildings towered and stretched out in confusing layers of rooms and doctors and tests. Yet they acted as if I were the most important person they would see all day.

I began to settle into this new edge, grateful for life and time with my husband.

We found ourselves enjoying the time, just us together. We stayed in great hotels and ate cuisine that isn’t available where we live. We walked streets with outdoor cafes and quaint shops and found our way to the rooftop cafe where they make guacamole at your table and serve fire-roasted fajitas that make all the senses come alive.

Much of the landscaping features amazing art and well-manicured flower gardens, all dotted with fountains, waterfalls, and small bridges which arch over trickling man-made streams. No matter where we visit every scene is laid against the stunning backdrop of snowcapped mountains.

These last five years have changed me and therefore, it has changed us. 

There were some things I knew in my head before that I wasn't actually living.

For starters, I was living as if life would always just––be.

The sun-will-rise-tomorrow and I-can-live-today-however-I-please, kind of thinking.

I went to church. I might even talk about God. However, I wasn't wholly sold out to what God was and is doing. And what He is doing is reconciling people to Himself through the love He demonstrated by sending His son, Jesus Christ.

Before this detour, I don't believe that I really loved people like I should. And while this is certainly still true, now my heart sees people differently than I did before.

I'm more convinced than ever before, that prayer is at the heart of real transformation. There is something about coming to grips with the fact that humans came from dust and will return to dust that makes dropping to my knees feel like the right place to be.

This season has settled issues I didn't even know were issues, in how I love my husband. Seeing how he was in it for the long haul, no matter what––has brought a sweetness to our marriage that I could not have understood when we nervously repeated the words, "...for the better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health..."

Because no one plans, on getting worse or poor or sick. And for that matter––old. 

If history is any indication, at best I’ve lived the better two-thirds of my life. If I live as long as my mom did? I've got seventeen years left to travel in this one body and live this one life. All I know is that the last seventeen years went by too fast.

No, I don't know what age I'll live to be, but I know that this body is a fragile vessel and this world is not my home.

Cancer taught me how to number my days. The New Living Translation of Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

This journey has brought me some wisdom and a new resolve.

It's like I've been given a second chance to write a better ending to my story.

God has graciously invited me to become more of who He intended me to be all along. Because that's how He is. God invites us to join Him in what He is doing in the world around us, instead of us just being around in the world. 

He has made me more and made me less.

More tender. More loving. More focused on what is really going to last.

Less hurried. Less tangled in what this world says is important.

I've learned how great things and change doesn't happen in my comfort zone.

It seems like every time we travel this desolate piece of  highway it happens. We enjoy the time but are always ready to turn the car toward home.

So for hours, we drive.

We might talk about what we've seen and done or what the days coming hold when we get home. Sometimes we drive in happy silence, grateful to have time for our minds to be lost in our own thoughts. But as dusk settles over us, and the final leg of the journey still lies ahead, we get restless.  

We have to reset our focus and our intent. We find ourselves looking for something that will give us a boost of energy for the final miles and sometimes we turn up the volume on the music. Mindless coasting isn't enough to get us home.

That's how I'm feeling about the days I'm living. As if there is an urgency to press in. A need to adjust the focus on what is truly important. A longing to shed more of what will be lost when this life is over and an urgency to do more of what will last.

This week. In the busy days that are hushed compared to the season that is coming––I am so thankful.

Thankful for the countless blessings of health and people and the sheer abundance I enjoy in this life.

But this holiday I'm more aware of this journey I'm on and how the road will someday lead me to my real home. Until then, I want to press into living these days well.

So tell me?

What detours has life taken you on?

How has God rewritten your story?

What is pressing on your heart as truly important today?

A song to turn up loud?


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© Rhonda Quaney