Blessed quietness

Joys are flowing like a river,
Since the Comforter has come;
He abides with us forever,
Makes the trusting heart His home.

Blessed quietness, holy quietness,
Blest assurance in my soul!
On the stormy sea Jesus speaks to me,
And the billows cease to roll.
~ Manie P. Ferguson, Blessed Quietness, 1897

We spent the weekend in Iowa with Dennis and Rosalie. The frame of that house is familiar and slips on like a well-loved garment; lovely, ordinary people have been living there for nearly 100 years. Deep in a river valley and surrounded by the rolling hills and wind-swept prairies, it is sheltered from every noise of natural or human origin. We spent our days laughing at the kids riding back and forth along the sidewalk in front of the house - sidewalks are foreign to country kids - trying to avoid the firestorm of walnuts dropping suddenly in swaths from the tree above. We visited an antique store, the local pizza place, and an animal sanctuary where different species are on display. The kids ran alongside a timber wolf, we squawked at several different types of owls, and tip-toed around the cage of cougars, bobcats, and a very, very fat bear.

I didn't think much about cancer this weekend. I did respond differently, as has become my habit, to the midnight wakefulness of baby Caleb, who is teething and fitful all night long. I spent last night awake with him. Usually I would fill the time with reading or thinking, but I was able to enjoy his restless company and spent most of the night watching him tenderly and caring for his needs so he could get the best rest possible. It pains me to think that a life-threatening illness was necessary to make me really stop and appreciate what God has so lovingly and freely set before me to enjoy for years. I am ashamed of that.

Upon returning to the "real world" (i.e. Wisconsin!), I opened up an e-mail from the leading thyroid cancer expert in the nation, Dr. Roy E. Weiss. I looked him up online with the help of a patient advocate at the American Cancer Society (who I will be shamelessly plugging for all time thanks to their generous, freely given and truly informative support!). I sent him an e-mail and received a thoughtful, individualized and kindly reply from him just a few days later. He is the inventor of Synthroid, the wonder drug that allows me to continue to function without my thyroid. He has already contacted the best pathologist in the country, Virginia Livolsi, who works out of the University of Pennsylvania and analyzes thousands of slides per year of papillary carcinoma-follicular variant. She will be analyzing my slides. So my task has become very easy - contact Mayo, sign release forms, and call the University of Chicago to arrange for my appointments at my convenience. Unlike Mayo, this doctor is also extremely concerned about my voice changes and will have me evaluated using laryngoscopy, consulting an ear-nose-throat surgeon and a thryoid oncologic surgeon at my first appointment. That should allow them to decide whether the changes are from cancer or permanent/ongoing damage of the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

I get that sense again - I think I am recognizing the "peace that passes understanding" (Phil. 4:7). It feels as though this road, the road that leads to the University of Chicago and this distinguished pathologist, has been laid out before me. It feels smooth and right to be on it. What else can we possibly trust in a situation that completely befuddles us all on a mere human level??

He is my Light and my Salvation
Whom have I to fear
In His secret place I'll hide and pray
That I might hear a simple word

O, how I would have despaired
If You had not come found me there
I can lean against You throne and find my Peace
Find my Peace
And when my enemies draw near
I pray that they will find
That I'm protected and secure
All tempests He will bind with a mighty word

~ Jennifer Knapp, Peace