I sat in a hospital waiting room this morning, already feeling a bit vulnerable. I’d spent the weekend pouring into women, encouraging them to Walk His Way. I urged them to walk in the light – away from hatred and sin and the lure of the world.
After a long day of flights to get home on Sunday, I dropped into bed fearing a bit what the next day held.
I didn’t know that across the country a man was shooting up The Strip, violently ending so many lives and forever changing the lives of all in the city that night and affecting the whole country.
This morning, I changed into a purple hospital gown and shuffled into the women-only waiting area. A half dozen women of all ages and races sat around me. Some scrolled the screens on their phones, others sat wide-eyed staring at the t.v. with non-stop coverage of Las Vegas. A few of us looked, then averted our eyes, our hearts already anxious and heavy, ready to burst before we even saw the news. How much heartache can our chests hold?
One by one they called us back to the screening rooms. Our eyes spoke questions we dared not verbalize…are you here for a routine mammogram, or did they already find something and you’re here for better images, hoping and praying it’s nothing?
I fell into the latter category.
With a thin layer of gaping fabric between us, we looked each other in the eyes and made small talk.
I like your sparkly tennis shoes.
Were you just texting from your watch? Well now, I have seen it all.
See these blue shoes? They are the most comfortable shoes I own. I have them in three colors.
Meaningless talk with a purpose. I see you. I’m with you. We’re in this together. We are a sisterhood. It didn’t matter that one of us was 40, one was 50, and one was 80. It didn’t matter that one had no teeth, one just had a tooth pulled and a still-swollen cheek, and one had all her teeth.
We are facing whatever we must and doing whatever is needed to care for ourselves.
Sometimes it means doing hard things. It means standing exposed, letting someone else care for us.
Sometimes it means averting our eyes and making small talk to help an already hurting heart focus on something else.
Sometimes it means looking evil straight into the eyes and yelling, “You will not win!”
Occasionally, we get to breathe a heavy sigh of relief. It’s not cancer. It’s a cyst. Sometimes we let our eyes and cheeks fill with tears, take a deep breath and determine to fight another day.
Some days we fall into both categories. It’s not cancer in my breast. But the cancer of evil fills the world.
I don’t understand this world we live in. I don’t understand why cancer cells invade some bodies and violently destroy their host. I don’t understand why some people succumb to such evil and allow the cancer of hate and violence to destroy them and hundreds around them.
We have no easy answers.
I know no other way to live like Jesus in times like these, than to thoughtfully listen to His teaching and observe His life through the Scripture.
Before the Las Vegas shooting, I had already planned to start on October 1 a Bible reading plan for the life and teaching of Jesus. I calculated that there are 88 chapters in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Reading just one chapter a day, we would finish reading all 4 books before the end of the year.
You can view and download the reading plan here. We’ve just begun, so please jump in as you can. I’ll post thoughts on my Facebook Page, and others have joined in already with what they’ve learned from Matthew 1 and Matthew 2.
We need each other. We need Jesus to transform us from the inside out and give us new hearts and new habits. We need His light to help us not succumb to fear and hatred and violence. We need to stand together. This is the way to really live even in a violent world.
BRUCE E MATTHEWS says
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
It is a grace to rest in the world with all its cancers.
Oh Bruce, thanks for sharing this! I love Wendell Berry. Which book is this from?
Oh how my soul took a deep exhale as I read this. Love your transparent heart. And I will join you in this bible study as we inhale the word of God together. We so desperately need His Spirit of peace. Recently I had decided to study the life of Jesus. This is confirmation. ?
Oh Ibelisse, I love how God confirms and will give us the same message over and over. I am so excited to have you join me. We will breathe deeply together of His Word and Spirit.
Such a beautiful way of looking at the ugly of this world, Amelia. Thank you for this timely post. May God bless your Wednesday?