Earnest Hemingway wrote one of my favorite quotes in A Moveable Feast. I love his description of spring. It is so accurate in my opinion to the lessons in life. We know all winter long that we have a hope of spring in the next season. Consider the many different scenarios that define a winter season in life. No matter how dismal the shortened days of winter are, we still hope for newness of life. We are somewhat tormented when cold temperatures, wind and rain seem to suspend spring. Still, there is hope in our patience. We see no good reason for the delay of spring…. until we see and smell the bloom!
I didn’t love the day I was diagnosed, but the parallel timing of my circumstance to this favorite quote was sublime. My diagnosis came in the dead of winter on December 15th. Stored away in my heart was this quote and the hope of spring which I think about often. I was so excited to know that in the darkest days of treatment that the grass would turn green and the fruit trees would swell with sweet fruit. I am thrilled that the timing was merciful. This is my third chemo treatment and the rose bushes are blooming! It is something beautiful to focus on and be grateful for.
Two weeks after my first treatment, I proactively shaved my head to avoid the trauma and frustration of my hair falling out, but now I am shiny bald. Being bald because you shave your head is empowering. Being bald because the quarter-inch nubs have fallen out feels entirely different. It is violating. It is exposing. It is humiliating. I had a moment in the process that spoke clearly to my soul that I was not in charge. Swollen faced from the steroids, sunken eyes, rashes, metallic taste in my mouth, enormously tired and grey complexion; I finally break from the constant beating of cold rains. I don’t know the woman with the disfigured body in tears who stares back at me in the mirror. Hope. Therefore, I hope for spring, a newness of life and I hope that the frozen river will flow again. This basket of blooming roses point to spring and are a fragrant reminder that something wonderful lies behind this winter.
There is a great transforming purpose to this stripping down that brings humility to fullness. My motives have been exposed. I’ve been controlling life while trying to find some sort of security. I trusted God while I was searching for this security. Am I the only one who looked for security in the world? I thought financial security would make me invincible. It obviously didn’t. The market changed and security was fleeting and cancer came anyway. Truthfully, I never felt as much fear as when I was financially secure. I laid awake many nights fearful that the money would be lost. My motives have been uncovered as I discovered that commitment and loyalty to family would provide security. It didn’t. People are human and as unpredictable as spring weather. When they are afraid, they hide. People can’t secure you because they are imperfect and flawed. My motives have become transparent to my own eyes as I saw that security can’t be found in my status. It can’t. Pride is woven so eloquently in affluence that you can barely see where one ends and the other begins. Pride fails and pride falls every time. Pride refuses to secure you. These are all the things I worked for, all the things I tried to control, all the things that motivated me. Not one of these things protected me, rescued or gave me peace when I received my diagnosis of breast cancer. It is not a bad thing to have any of these things. However, I was motivated to find security in these things and that was like a cancer of a different kind. I mentioned that I trusted God while I was busy working towards “success” in these areas. Blind, blind, blind… but now I see.
Why not trust God for my security? He has financially provided for us. He has been a rock solid infallible family member and glorifying His status has given me indescribable security. The kind that changes your countenance.
I’m re-prioritizing! Re-organizing! Re-evaluating! Spring Cleaning! Part of me had to die in this winter, as Hemingway suggests. My fast growing cells had to die and my wrong motives also had to die. Thank goodness I will never be the same again. I’m busy about the task of spring cleaning closets, drawers, thoughts, behaviors, relationships and patterns. I won’t get it all done over night, but at least I’m working in the right direction. I have a new motivation and new purpose. Everything just looks different in the spring of 2012. Can you imagine? Every action, every word spoken, every detail was based out of a self-serving motivation. Gosh, I’m so glad that there is a spring around the corner of every winter.
One last treatment next Tuesday, May 1st and that’s the last of the wind and the cold, wintry light of this season. I hope I haven’t wasted a morsel of all that cancer has to teach me so far. I’m not looking forward to the next round since my body is already compromised. I’m sure that there will be more wisdom coming and I think it has to do with……. ( to be continued)
A Moveable Feast is a set of memoirs written by Earnest Hemingway about his life and internship as a writer in Paris. His book was published the year I was born in 1964, three years after his passing. Just an interesting footnote, thought I’d share it with you.