looking through me

hope holds

Hope is a hazy word. I see it, and then I don’t.

I reach for it, and the vapor trails away.

For years, the more I tried to get a grip on it, the more it seemed like the tail of a balloon dipping and weaving ahead of me. Even if I could catch it, at best it could pull me a few inches—maybe a few feet—off the ground. It could give me a hint of perspective. It could give my legs a few seconds of reprieve.

But hope was never enough to carry me. It couldn’t sustain my weight. The string slipped out of my hand, I thudded back to reality, and the balloon bobbed ahead of me again. I had to hustle to keep it in sight, let alone get a hand on it.

Hope always seemed to be “out there” or “up there,” but what if hope is “down there”?

What if hope is the anchor or—even better—the solid seabed into which the anchor sinks?

Maybe hope is less about getting above despair and more about being rooted in the Immovable as life’s storms rage.

Perhaps hope is less escape and more endurance.

When the anchor is sure, though the waves crash and threaten to swamp me, I am not lost. The squalls leave me battered and bruised, wet and chilled, weak in the knee and sick to my stomach; yet, I am secure.

The clouds clear, and I have not drifted. Hope remains. I remain.

Hope isn’t what I hold onto but what—or Who—holds onto me.


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reading ahead

Surprises don’t rank very high on my list of favorite things. I’m a fan of a timely heads up and the opportunity to prepare for what’s coming—the good and the hard.

While I’m not a flip-to-the-last-page-of-the-story person, a part of me has always wished life had that option. Wouldn’t it be great to get a sneak peek at what’s to come? Nothing too drastic, maybe just the end of the chapter I’m in right now. Because I’m sure everything would make more sense if I had advance warning for some of life’s plot twists.

I’ve even prayed for it: God, can you please show me how this is going to turn out?

But not any more. I don’t want to know.

If I’d skipped ahead a mere four months ago, I wouldn’t have believed what I read—I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be in this reality. Catching an incomplete glimpse of today would have made me anxious and angry and incredibly confused. Words like gliosarcoma, massive infection, PICC line and platelets would have rocked my world. They would have raised more questions and fears than they’d answered.

If I’d been tipped off that Dad’s lineup of doctors would be big enough to field a basketball team with a bench of reserves, I wouldn’t have understood why he needed neurosurgeons, hematologists and an infectious disease specialist, not to mention the neuro-oncologist and radiation oncologists.

If I’d read the page where I had greater appreciation for doctors saying “I’ve never seen this before” or “I don’t know” than for their hypotheses and possible timelines, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’ve always preferred an abundance of information, so how in such a short span could I become comfortable with—and even grateful for—the admission of limited knowledge?

If I’d known I would come to see waiting as a gift because I’m not ready to hear it all at once, I would have scoffed. I thought knowing was better than not knowing, but I was wrong. There’s beauty in patience. There’s wisdom in waiting. There’s peace in being present in answerless suspense.

Most days I can’t figure out the whys and hows and whens . . . and they just keep coming. But reading ahead won’t solve the riddles.

Today is all I can handle. My soul can’t carry another day’s worries or reassurances. I’ll take tomorrow’s surprises when they arrive.

Turns out, there’s great mercy in the mystery of living locked in this moment.

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