Hanging on the wall above my desk is a tiny German clock. One of my sons gave it to me for Christmas a year ago. Just like a grown-up cuckoo clock, this one must be wound daily. Though it is beautiful and I treasure it because it was a gift from the heart of someone I love deeply, I must admit I don’t always take the time to wind it. But when I do, its gentle tick-tock is a comfort and brings a rhythm to my thoughts while I write.
Reflecting on the events of this past year, I realize this little ticking clock represents more than minutes adding up to hours, days, weeks. It represents all that spills into those moments — the mundane, the profound, the lovely and the frightening.
When my son gave me the clock on Christmas, our family viewed the year ahead as a clean slate, a continuation of life as we knew it. None of us was aware that the landscape of that year would be altered by a new reality — cancer.
My breast cancer diagnosis had not been made at Christmas time, but because there had been tests and I was awaiting the results, I hid a nugget of fear buried deep during those holidays. Two weeks into the new year, my family and I faced this new reality head-on, as my husband and two youngest sons gathered around my hospital bed along with a dear friend while we awaited surgery, and while the two oldest sons waited in far-away cities for the prognosis.
It was good news. They got it all. Minimal radiation was prescribed and by the end of the month, I had packed up the word “cancer” and stepped back into the fullness of my life as wife, mother, daughter, business partner, writer, friend.
The same life……..but different.
How does one explain what happens when you’re lifted from that dark, lonely place where fears are nursed and allowed to dwell?
When standing at the edge of the ocean feels like a fresh beginning?
When the sight of an ugly scar turns into a celebration of triumph?
In the midst of this trial, even on the days when my body has ached because of chemicals prescribed to keep the cancer at bay, I have found the fullness of the present to be so much more satisfying than dwelling on the past and yearning for the future.
“…..do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
From His mountaintop, Jesus pulled those who were following Him out of their dark place of doom and gloom to stand beside Him.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…….Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
For someone whose middle name has been “Worry”, these are words to “Write….on the door frames of (my) house and on (my) gates.” (Deut 6:9)
I’ve prayed for many things over the past year — handed my fears over to God, laid those “what ifs” at His feet, circled the “what next” in daily petitions. And inch-by-inch, I’ve found myself stepping closer to My Creator, asking Him instead….
“What about today? Where will You lead me if I will just follow?”
And at the close of this year, God gave me a bonus. Those words……“add a single hour to your life”…….were on the lips of my doctor on the last day of the year as I met with him for a check-up. After months of aching bones and a foggy brain, this doctor, in his wisdom and in answer to prayer, tells me I can stop the drug and end the damage it is doing to my bones. “Because it will not add a single hour to your life.”
And with that decision, I realize that in addition to the gift of life, I’ve been given the gift of quality of life. At least for today. For now.
That’s all I ask for….a gift of the PRESENT. And there’s just no time like it.