i understand that reaching. last night i went to sleep and felt myself reaching through rails. reaching all the long, long night. reaching for comfort. reaching for warmth. reaching for my Jesus. yesterday i was diagnosed with breast cancer. i sat under the clean blue sky and the front yard tree of my friend's home and i listened to a doctor say, "unfortunately..." i heard little else after that first word..."unfortunately." from that moment i have felt myself falling. falling deep and fast and dark. my hands came out quickly. i was all hands and arms and limbs flailing. attempting to brace myself for the smack of concrete. trying hard to stop the hurt of hit. catch myself. clutch up the wind knocked out of my chest. put it back. fill it up. hold it close. but i couldn't. no matter how hard i have tried in these past 12 hours of my diagnosis, i know only one thing this morning: my arms are not able. they aren't long enough or strong enough or even soft enough to hold. stop. cradle.
and so i reach.
i will not pretend in this news to be calm or in control. for there is no calm and nothing about it feels controlled. i will not pretend to embrace this awful. i don't. right now i want to, instead, put down my legs and run. run fast away from the news and the decisions and the horror. i want to run from the plan and the next step and the one-day-at-a-time talk. i want to flee from the telling: telling of mother, sisters. oh, dear Lord, the heart-wrenching telling of children. i don't want to share this news i want to fling it down and smash it with my angry heel. i want to obliterate the screaming word which has seemingly seared the flesh and fabric of my future. i want to run fast and then curl up in this blanket of breath-snatching fear and close up everything inside. but i cannot.
and so i reach.
i reach with arms weak and scared. dangling. useless, except for the reaching. i know what i walk into is beyond me. beyond my strength. there will be no arm wrestling winner in this contest. this morning i have strength enough only for feeble reaching. that is it. that is all. i have walked from room to room already before the sun's waking. i can find no answer in its silence. i have touched things: walls. coffee pot. wool blanket. countertop. a window pane. my searching hands feeling their way wishing to uncover how this all happened. willing to scrape off layers of disbelief. knowing i will find nothing. no sense of peace and no thing secure in any hard object.
and yet i reach.
oh Lord, it is the hem of your garment for which my fingers long to feel. The Hem. like the bleeding woman of the bible, "when she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'if i just touch his clothes, i will be healed'...."then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, 'daughter, your faith has healed you. go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'" (mark 5). i don't bleed, but i tremble. oh, how i tremble this april day. and i reach for his cloak even now this first morning in my knowing. i clutch. i am certain it is the only place worthy of my grasping. there is nothing else. no doctor. no report. no plan. no percentage. nothing to replace the hem of my God's garment.
and so i reach, arms trembling, for my Master, Savior, Healer, Holder.
i can't begin to know why. my fear and disbelief and even my outrage blind me from any answers. there is no sense. i have five children. they need me well. healthy. whole. why Lord? satan is dancing wildly at this sad girls' questioning... wondering, pleading, crying. his hands clap in great rejoicing at the suffering and doubting which might very well run rampant in my home today. tomorrow. i am sure of it. and this morning as i sit with my unkowns and my what-ifs i can almost see his demon-party at my window. i can feel the heat of his merry-making. and i am scared.
and so i reach for the devotional on the table nearby. Jesus Calling. the devotional which i have spent time in daily now for over a month. knowing not else what to do or what to think or even how to breathe...i flip open to my morning routine and i read:
i may very well be weak in my reaching. my arms nothing more than frail bones blowing weightless in heavy wind, but my father...my cloak-wearing-hem-healing-father...My Father Holds Me. this has nothing to do with my strength. this has little to do with my limbs. My Father Holds me tightly by my right hand and pulls me close, whispering soft into my trembling ears, "I am here, child. I am here. I am here."
and He reaches.
"with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever. ~ psalms 136:12