(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 2/ 17/13)
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Snow globes. Children always seem to have an innate attraction to them. Once upon a time, I distinctly remember that giddy feeling, especially during the Christmas season when stores would display beautiful collections of these magnificent little transparent worlds frozen in time. Instinctively, I’d rush to stir up the beautiful, idyllic scenes in each one, watching the snow gently fall over each perfect little landscape.
As I found myself pondering magical snow globes this past week, I’m not sure why, but I recalled a moment in a disturbing, but brilliantly written novel by Alice Sebold I read several years ago—The Lovely Bones. I distinctly remembered a part in the book referring to a snow globe. I found the book on one of my shelves and looked up the part that came to memory:
“Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, “Don’t worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He’s trapped in a perfect world.”
Trapped, isolated in a world being stirred up beyond one’s control is most definitely a lonely place. The penguin, in many ways similar to how I see myself some days . . . stood lonely, frozen in time, with no control over anything going on around him.
On Tuesday night, while I was running my hands through my long, lavish locks (just kidding, they don’t exist)—I felt a very real, immovable lump at the base of my skull, an occipital lymph node, as it were. John felt it and insisted I call the doctor in the morning. Without having an active infection that could cause it, and also already having positive axillary lymph nodes, it was unsettling to say the least. On Wednesday I called, and the oncology team asked to see me on Thursday prior to chemo, to check it out.
Thursday arrived—Valentine’s Day, and my four princes blessed me with love. First and foremost, John and I were both overwhelmed by our three little men who wrote us a beautifully-written letter expressing their appreciation and love for us . . . we were both moved to tears. They had also put their own money together to buy us a Valentine’s Day gift. It was beyond heartwarming. I was later greeted to 2 dozen long-stemmed roses to beautifully color my office . . . from all my boys.
The pre-chemo Valentine’s Day blessings continued, as my best Valentine’s Day gift arrived, meeting me at work to be my Dana-Farber date . . . Jean McAdams-Jenkins. Those of you who know Jean, know that she is that gift that keeps on giving. As she says, once you’re in her life, you are there to stay. So true. Thank God. Though I would have withdrawals, you could actually go months without seeing Jean, but just as if time stood still . . . as soon as you reunite, it would seem not a day had lapsed. She is low maintenance with style. Always there no matter what. There’s not a day that goes by that Jean isn’t praying for hundreds of people . . . seriously. The list, though miles long, is never forgotten in her memory. I have absolute confidence that if there were no one else on the face of the planet praying for me, Jean would be. Additionally, her life is a living, breathing testimony of God’s miracles—she is a 15-year pancreatic cancer survivor. That is just one of the many ways her life has been an example of God’s merciful love and grace.
Needless to say, I was blessed beyond measure to have Jean with me on Valentine’s Day. You always know you’re in for lots of laughing intertwined with many more moments of wisdom and thoughtful reflection when you’re with her.
I was seen by the oncology team regarding the enlarged lymph node. Though there is a possibility that the node is in fact cancer-related, there is also a possibility (my hopeful one) that this could be a Nicole-variable. A lymph node that may just be part of me. They are thrilled by what they are seeing with regard to chemo-shrinkage in the breast and other nodes . . . and are hopeful, that if this were cancer-related, it too will suffer the consequences of the juice. Time will tell. In the meantime, they are keeping it under close weekly watch and have measured it for comparative purposes.
I think of the Dad in The Lovely Bones, assuring Susie of the Penguin’s nice life in the snow globe . . . trapped in his perfect world. Though I feel Susie’s worry in the face of isolation and loneliness—having no control over the circumstances swirling all around me, the dad’s right. In the midst of the inverted globe, life’s disasters and worries stirring about, the penguin remains immoveable— in a sense trapped in a perfect world.
There is nothing more meaningful and real than knowing earnestly your life is in the Lord’s hands. I love the verse in John: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you . . .” (John 15:5-7) It’s not that we make a wish and get what we wish for . . . instead it’s all about the steadfast dependence on Him. As long as we remain in Him and His words remain in us, our desires will align with His will, and our prayers will reflect that.
It is in my best interest to embrace my scene in this snow globe. I am safe there. He will allow the snow to swirl around me, yet I can remain safe in His presence . . . unharmed, immoveable. It is a perfect place to be.
I can truly do nothing apart from Him. Even when shaken, I hope to remain steadfast . . . abiding in the one and only true Vine.
Thank you all for being vessels of encouragement and support. Please continue to pray. I feel them.
Loads of love from the globe.