Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Milestones Along the River

In a life where every day feels like a blessing, particular milestones have me reconsidering my life's flow. Holidays and anniversaries seem to be zipping by, each offering me perspective. Some are secular, some medical, some both; some personal, some communal, some both. All are poignant prompts.
The tenth anniversary remembrances of 9/11 allowed all of us to look back at all that's happened since everything changed. A turn of events we couldn't have imagined transformed our reality. There is no going back.
The more mundane Halloween has connotations for me beyond the faux fear of costumed children. It is the anniversary of my diagnosis. Has so much time really passed since everything changed? It's been about a thousand days, on top of everything else that God has willed me.
Followed shortly by my 45th birthday – (again) has so much time really passed?! The number matters none when I am feeling this young.
Then…Thanksgiving – newly one of my favorite holidays. A day devoted to gratitude! It's a day where we all pause to celebrate the blessings in our lives. How beautiful is that?!
Dec. 1st was the 3rd anniversary of my rebirth. The 'textbook-case" completion of my Whipple surgery was my own personal resurrection. Since then there's been grieving, letting go, accepting and choosing. The last with a little more clarity and maturity these days (I hope).
These milestones are like a church bell that tolls midnight with a dozen dongs on a crisp November night, slow and meaningful.
There have also been a rash of "remember that time…" mementos lately too - each uniquely and cumulatively good. On a glorious weekend just after my birthday, I helped the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network register the 1,400 walkers and runners that raised $250,000 for the cause of research and awareness. That Sunday evening, I appeared in the WPIX news story about the event. The night before I stretched well beyond my comfort zone in a staged reading of a series of one-act plays performed in our church sanctuary. That stretch is like pulling oneself up on a frayed and knotty rope strung across that river of life. Like milestones, it gives you a new perspective on who you are, where you've been and where you might go.
And where is God in all of this? God is at the center of each of these events because it is God's grace that allows me to experience these time milestones. It is that grace which allows me to hope into the future, to make plans for more and even better things.
Without any merit on my part, God has given me time – to experience, give thanks and contemplate. It's that last part that I am working on most. In my relationship with time, there's a tension between action and reflection. Action often gets the better of the bargain. It's all about finding that balance. Our actions define us but it's the moments in between that provide the fodder. The soul's purpose and direction are found in the pauses. I am learning.
I long to sit on the bank beside the stream more often. And for a little while longer, God willing.