Pressing on

When I left for the novena at church on Monday night, it began to snow.  It started in earnest as I left my neighborhood, and, being a Mississippi transplant, I almost turned around.  Twice.  Was it going to stick? Would I be stuck?  The snow swirled on the road and I thought about it — but pressed on and was rewarded with the most amazing experience.  Not only was a novena held in the chapel, attended by friends from church, school, and my moms group, but my RCIA classmates were also preparing for parallel prayer in our classroom, with the same prayers and hope, before we began learning about reconciliation.  As I sat there with the others new to Catholicism, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and hope.

Still, I worried about the snow, and I couldn’t help but look out the window afterward, concerned about the trip back.  I left early — and walked out the doors to a still, quiet night, with not a flake in sight.  Embarrassed to go back in and admit that I was so wrong, I popped inside the chapel instead, and was amazed to see a dozen more bowed heads, all praying for a cure, a miracle, for the cancer to be gone.  I stayed, and although I can’t recall the last time I prayed in public aside from a Sunday, I stayed.  My brain fidgeted, and it was hard to concentrate, and I wondered whether I should pray the same prayer that I had been praying so hard for so long with my kids (Dear God, please heal Mommy.) or something fancier, or the rosary that I knew others were saying, as their beads clicked softly in their hands.  I tried and I tried, as the minutae of motherhood kept popping into my mind, each competing for my attention.  There was this to do, and that, and of course the other, and did I ever order those pictures? I fought back the distractions and prayed.  And failed.  And prayed again.  And then, through the chaos of all that needed to be done, all the tasks that wanted my attention, I felt a wave of calmness, with the unspoken words:  Be still, and know that I am God.

And I was.  And I do.  And prayer came more easily, as I focused on that one verse. and pleaded for my life.

The next day, two things happened.  The first was, prayer came very easily, like settling in with a friend on a long distance phone call.  The second was, I got the most amazing email from a woman who blogged with the name or url BestillandknowthatIamGod.  And I sat in wonderment, not understanding, but grateful, and I remembered what I had learned the night before.

The email is no longer in my box, and I can’t find her blog anywhere, but I was so sure —

Monday and Tuesday were amazing days, filled with energy and oomph and preschool dropoff and kindergarten pickup and brownies with sprinkles and legos with my children.  By Wednesday, I was pooped, and went to bed with the kids just after dinner.  Thursday was better, and I made it to the novena, but by Friday I was exhausted, resting both all morning and again in the afternoon, as my heart raced for no apparent reason.  We had company for dinner, but I mostly just sat in my easy chair and enjoyed the conversation, until putting the kids and myself to bed at 8:00.

Ellen sent me a note about the novena this week, a really amazing note that reassured me and helped, but it’s not mine to share, so I’ll just say this — thank you.

The flowers?  They came from “those guys” I wrote about last week.  They apologized, and I believe they meant it.  Not because of the flowers, though.  Because of their words, and how quickly they acted to make it right.


8 Responses to Pressing on

  1. Bon says:

    smiling at the good, at the moments of stillness, at the apology behind the flowers, at the strength and hope and, more than anything, the keep-going-ness i read in your words. i’m sure there’s a word for that, but i can’t seem to remember what it is. i think i’ll call it Susan-ness. xo.

  2. Sunday says:

    I have always loved that verse of scripture as well. I also try to remind myself that in those moments when I cannot pray the Holy Spirit is interceding for me.

    Sending you love and hugs, my friend.

  3. marty says:

    I take back a few of my curse words at them.

  4. Ginny Mason says:

    When I struggle with a wandering mind and want to meditate/pray, I use the words “Be still and know that I am God”, saying the full sentence slowly, then repeating it over and over, dropping one word each time: “Be still and know that I am”…”Be still and know that I”…”Be still and know that”…. You get the picture. I find it a useful way to center myself and burrow through all the distractions.

    Know you are continually in my thoughts and prayers, Susan. May you find peace and healing.

  5. carosgram says:

    I always think about prayer as a conversation between God and me. So whatever runs thru my head is what I needed to say to God. The verse that brings me the most comfort is the one about God has a plan for you, a plan for good and not for evil…. And then I am able to leave it up to Him. By the by, I find great comfort in formal prayers, especially with a group and yes, I am Catholic. Thinking of you and wishing you the best

  6. Jo Major Ciolino says:

    As I read along and came to the all-to- familiar problem of mental fidgeting in church I knew what I would write as a comment – it is the one thing I go to in that situation and is is……….”be still and know that I am God”. When I read that same phrase not two lines later, I smiled. Yep.
    Your novena is part of my evening routine way out here in Massachusetts.

  7. “Be still and know” is one of my favourite hymns. Since I am given free rein during communion, that is nearly always the one I play, softly and repetitively, towards the end as people return to their seats and sit quietly to pray. It sounds to me like you have been touched by grace, Susan – entirely appropriately, as you are one of the most grace-full people I know of 🙂
    Love and hugs to you.

  8. Beckye Estill says:

    Hi, Susan. What a blessing it was for me to see this tonight!! I love the way the Lord works on all of our behalves. ❤

    As you can see by my name, BEstill is often used by others to set my user names — and every time I was thinking of that verse, so I decided to go ahead to use it as a reminder to others (and myself!). Since I see it more than anyone else, I figure I probably need to see it more than anyone else! 😉

    I'm so glad you were encouraged. I know that the Lord gave me such a peace going through treatment; and as a super-type A achiever I knew it was evidence of His work that I was not restless or feeling like I needed to be productive during that (over a) year. I was at peace just trusting Him to accomplish His purposes in and for me… being still before Him and knowing He was God. What I never expected, though, was the JOY He gave me through it all.

    I am asking Him to give you His joy and peace, as well, as you walk with Him through this valley. And for His life and health too.

    Love you and praise Him for using us both to be a blessing to the other. 😀 May He continue to bless and strengthen you!

    I am reading a book written by a doctor who got cancer that you might enjoy: Anti Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, PhD. As a doctor he approached everything scientifically but it's easy to read, and he did a lot of research on how we could help our bodies fight cancer. Maybe you've already read it. My oncology team is very excited about it, and MD Anderson is working with him to implement his information with their patients. Thought you, as a scientist, might especially enjoy it. 🙂

    Of course, the BEST book is Scripture. 😀 It helps the body, soul and spirit. 😀

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and thank you again for the blessing!


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