Stars of the soul

God chains the dog till night; wilt loose the chain
And wake thy sorrow?
Wilt thou forestall it, and now grieve tomorrow,
And then again
Grieve over freshly all thy pain?
Either grief will not come, or if it must,
Do not forecast;
And while it cometh, it is almost past.
Away, distrust;
My God hath promis'd; He is just.

--George Herbert, "The Discharge"

I have felt personal oppression several times in my life, but the most recent manifestation rings most clearly in my memory. I struggled under the mantle of motherhood for three long years, uncomfortable, wondering why I had been granted these "blessings" that I didn't anticipate nor necessarily ask for. After the birth of my fourth child (and last, and first son), this burden miraculously lifted as I 'hit my stride' as a mother. The myriad joys and trials lit my soul like so many stars, and I walked around trying futilely to lessen the escaping light as it glanced off other, more miserable mothers. It was in this season of bliss that I received my diagnosis of cancer. It has been like a slow lowering into a very confining place spiritually. All around, I am hedged by fear, the gloomy faces of doctors, the confines of treatment that takes me away from my family for weeks at a time. Death is not at my doorstep, but I see him, a specter waiting far down the path, for the first time. Inevitably, I ask God why.

The interesting thing is that those stars in my soul persist. They are not snuffed out in this tight place. In fact, in some ways, the light they cast is infinitely brighter as it reflects off the granite walls of my grief so close to me on every side. My question still remains: why now? When I have finally reached a place of understanding and trust and faith, why test this new bud that has suddenly shot up from the rocky soil of my soul? Is testing the way that great gardener of my soul tends a new plant? Encourages it to grow? Certainly this bud of unshakable, overflowing motherly love wouldn't have sprung but for the adversity of early motherhood. Perhaps the crucible is His greenhouse.