Mirrors

Don't assume it is passive
or easy, this clarity
With which I give you yourself.
Consider what restraint it

Takes: breath withheld, no anger
Or joy disturbing the surface.
Of the ice.
You are suspended in me

Beautiful and frozen, I
Preserve you, in me you are safe.
~Mirrors III, Margaret Atwood

I suppose it is a shock to every cancer patient when their physical appearance begins to change because of their treatment. I naively assumed that, because of the specificity of my treatment, I would have no long-term appearance changes. I am grateful I am not losing my hair - although I have always wanted to try out the Sinead O'Connor look! - but the other changes are annoying, regardless. I knew, objectively, that going off thyroid replacement and taking radiation to kill off the remainder of my functioning thyroid would rapidly speed the aging process. But it is rather a shock to go to bed 29 years old and wake up much older! My hair is coming in white, at least in one area of my head. I may end up with a completely white head of hair at the end of this! Wouldn't that be something [insert look of horror here]. I also patted my own back for my victory over the weight gain that I was told would be part and parcel of this process - I gained not one pound while my metabolism shut down, which is a testament to the power of the "growling belly system" for weight control. However, my body shape has changed, which is really disappointing to me.

In the midst of this sudden aging, I lean on the unconditional love expressed by my husband and children. It is amazing to me to look into Aaron's eyes and realize there is genuine love there for me, undeserved, treasured. To laugh with my son and realize he cares not a wit about what I look like, only that I am present and that I love him. I know that God, certainly, cares for me regardless of how my appearance changes. Yet I also cannot dispute that He cares immensely about how things look. I sit in my kitchen writing this, and a cascade of swirling snowflakes is falling between the rising morning sun and I. Even from my window, I can see the tiny crystal structure of the flakes catching the sunlight like tiny pieces of frosted glass. The sun is a pale yellow this morning, uncertain yet if it is flavescent or albicant. The cottonwood tree waves her bare branches like old arms toward the cold moon setting, and the pine stands still as a sentinel in the windless dawn. The grasses on the hillside have turned rusty brown, and collect the snowflakes like so many pieces of jewelry to adorn their dry stalks. The world of my morning was so obviously made and set in motion by a God who cares about beauty. The question is: what does He find beautiful in me?

I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:10-12

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. ~ I Peter 3:3-6

So I sit, quietly, and watch the unfading and ever-changing beauty of God's creation swirl past my window. Breathing in the cold morning air and delighting in the hot cup of coffee He provided, brewed by the patient, loving hands of my husband. Delight in being home, this beloved yellow house filled with all it's beloved noises and seasons. Enjoy the holidays. I've heard that phrase a million times, and I finally understand what it means. It means savoring, absorbing, revelling in the little common and wonderful things, reflecting on the miracle of Christ's sacrificial birth. Putting on the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. Stilling the waters of my soul in the beautiful dawn.