It is Advent. This Advent, we've (people who have been to our church the past couple weeks) been "invited," via sermons to do a couple things. We have been invited, during this time of Advent, to look where God is at work around us, as well as in our lives (also to find God moments, not that we necessarily feel God's presence, but we do know that God is at work). We have also been invited to find moments/times of silence during this busy season, to think about things other than the busy season. During these sermons, I think terrific, I will do this! God is at work - yes, God is! And although I'd like to say I made time for silence, the reality, this year, is that silence has been forced on me. It has been an interesting Advent.
This past week, when I was thinking I'd find these God moments and times when God is at work in my life, I was slammed with the reminded that, in an instant, life can change for anyone. Just when everything seems to be going as expected, the unexpected occurs.
Several college Facebook friends of mine from college have a friend, who also went to Kenyon, who left this world at too young an age this past week, after too short a battle with something she shouldn't have had at her age. She had a blog which I have read mostly, and what was evident were sudden changes. After the initial shock of "you have this," a physician doubted she had any chance. Pretty soon, she proved him wrong. Ha! Take that! It's gone! But then boom! It was back, even though she felt fine. In between times of good and bad news constantly causing her to shift the course of her life, she traveled, spent time with her kids and husband, and seemed to love life. She showed what I would imagine we all strive to have in life - happiness, the ability to have fun, relax, and laugh, and not to take things too seriously (unless that is necessary). She showed love of life in the face of horrific "surprises" that showed the fragility of life. Her blog made me think that I could do a bit better in my life, where unexpected good and bad things happen, in an instant, without warning.
Back to my life, finding where God is, and silence. I like to think I'm in charge and my overactive immune system means I will never get sick. Everyone else gets sick. I do not. I fought off a small something - a little sore throat one day, something else the next, etc. I'm in charge. Hey God, we're good - I'm healthy, all is well. But then... last weekend my daughter had dance recitals so I was out in the cold a lot (REALLY COLD!), plus my daughter was sick. I was fine. Nothing could touch me. Yup, all is well. I had a conference and a final choir rehearsal for our concert... I was coasting! I had just walked my best 400 time since I started walking around the track. Check that out! Last season I ended going around a track in just under 17 minutes. I'm now almost under 15 minutes! I rock! God was doing good things! Unstoppable Beth!
And then, I coughed. Then I coughed again. And again. Over the day this cough grew and grew (but just a dry cough) and in between coughs I would gasp for air. No God, I thought we had a deal or something! I was unstoppable, trying to break 15 minutes. I really did not have time for some strange virus.
I went to bed.
Every morning I wonder if I will make it out of bed. I think many people with MS do that. I lay in bed and ponder whether my legs will work. Then I sit on the side of the bed and do the same thing. Then I "launch" myself and discover that all is well.
But that next morning I lay in bed and wondered how I was even going to roll over. Everything had changed. This was not the God moment I wanted. It also was not the type of silence I wanted. I mean, no, I didn't want to lie in the silence and wonder if I could roll over.
I was sick. I had a fever. When I get a fever, I can't walk. I can't even get up. And that morning, rolling was questionable. I rolled... a bit too far... off the bed. Dang! Bad miss. It was quiet. The God moment was me asking God how I was going to make it to the bathroom! I scooted myself to my wheelchair which I had left close to the bed, because I had started to feel sick the previous night. When this stuff happens, doing something as simple as making it to the bathroom gets broke into little steps... Scoot to the wheelchair... step 1 complete. Step 2: get into wheelchair, with no strength. But I did it. Step 3: Wheel to bathroom made and attempt to pull myself up onto the sink and walk a few steps to the toilet. Step 4 land on toilet. I made it. I sat there, and sat, and rested. Silence can be scary, right God?
Now, to get up from the toilet. Ha! God, is this a joke? It is silent but this God series of moments has not left finding the love of God's work. Right. Standing was not an option. Nothing was working. I scooted myself onto the floor and then over to my wheelchair. This is the part where I am supposed to pull myself onto the wheelchair. After about 10 attempts and 20 stern words with God on how this sucks, I realized I didn't have the strength. So I pushed the wheelchair out of the bathroom and scooted out of the bathroom, to a white chair that is lower than the wheelchair. Great idea!
Once I pulled myself into the white chair, it was a great time to rest. Boom! My leg jumped..it didn't want to stay still. So, I transferred to my wheelchair. Done. There is still silence and God, you got me into my wheelchair.
The rest of the day was full of more silence and stern words with God.
Dear God: It is Advent. I'm looking for good moments here. I don't need periods of silence where I contemplate how to get off the floor. Everything is wrong, turned upside down.
Amazingly, after 2 days, I got over this.
Now I can search for the good. Now I can search for moments of silence. Now I can do what was intended. I can follow the example of the lady mentioned near the beginning of this blog.
Tonight we had our lessons and carols service. At the end, we sing a Peace song. It's beautiful. Out of nowhere I was caught in a God moment, with the good of this service spreading throughout the sanctuary and bringing tears to my eyes. In an instant, the moment was gone. There will be other moments. I'll find the silent moments.
It's all there - as we live moment to moment, not knowing what to expect, and when. We do know that God is there, even if God takes the words thrown toward God aren't nice.