Growing slowly old

I will not be made useless
I won't be idled with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
My hands are small, I know,
but they're not yours they are my own
cause where there's a man who has no voice
there ours shall go singing
In the end only kindness matters
I will get down on my knees and I will pray
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's heart
~ Hands, Jewel

I've mentioned my hands before this. They are the most ravaged by the radiation and hypothyroidism. Sounds silly, I suppose, but it's been difficult for me. It has also given me more empathy for my husband, who suffers chronic joint inflammation, probably due to osteoarthritis, and a dear friend of mine who suffers rheumatoid arthritis. My hands look old. They are covered in wrinkles, they are dry, callouses have formed over each knuckle, and the fingertips are covered in cracks and stains that I can't seem to scrub out. They are constantly sore, and I can't write by hand much at all during my weeks of recovery after being off my medication for six weeks in preparation for the latest round of tests. They ache so badly that it wakes me up at night. I can describe all this pain to little avail...hence the photo of my newly ugly hand. All this aching and falling apart of such a small, inconsequential body part reminds me of the verses that compare Christians to parts of a body: The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (I Corinthians 12)

Under the heading, "Joy of the Redeemed", I found these words of encouragement in Isaiah 35:
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

As I process the latest news about my cancer this week, I come constantly back to the foundational truth that there is no knowing in this life. That tomorrow is an unknown, today is a gift. I am grateful to know that I will be home with my children again until December. I pray fervently that cancer stays far from me. Yet little harbingers of the long wait and battle ahead keep coming in like waves into a peaceful shore, turning the rocks over to reveal new beauty and undiscovered ugliness all at once. Other cancer survivors warn me that years of clean scans and undetectable labs are often followed up by recurrences of cancer, metastasis and more surgery and treatment. This particular type of cancer is the "long haul" type - something I am likely to have on my radar for the rest of my life now. Just like my hands. A constant reminder that the fleeting days are passing swiftly. So I abandon this writing now, to go redeem the time.

(Romantic as that may sound, I plan to "redeem" it by folding my laundry!)