A Jonah day

"The trouble is, I've got things the matter with my conscience," sobbed Anne. "Oh, this has been such a Jonah day, Marilla. I'm so ashamed of myself. I lost my temper and whipped Anthony Pye."

"I'm glad to hear it," said Marilla with decision. "It's what you should have done long ago."

Marilla passed her hard work-worn hand over the girl's glossy, tumbled hair with a wonderful tenderness. When Anne's sobs grew quieter she said, very gently for her, "You take things too much to heart, Anne. We all make mistakes . . . but people forget them. And Jonah days come to everybody. As for Anthony Pye, why need you care if he does dislike you? He is the only one."

"I can't help it. I want everybody to love me and it hurts me so when anybody doesn't. And Anthony never will now. Oh, I just made an idiot of myself today, Marilla. I'll tell you the whole story."

Marilla listened to the whole story, and if she smiled at certain parts of it Anne never knew. When the tale was ended she said briskly, "Well, never mind. This day's done and there's a new one coming tomorrow, with no mistakes in it yet, as you used to say yourself. Just come downstairs and have your supper. You'll see if a good cup of tea and those plum puffs I made today won't hearten you up."

"Plum puffs won't minister to a mind diseased," said Anne disconsolately; but Marilla thought it a good sign that she had recovered sufficiently to adapt a quotation.
Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 12, L.M. Montgomery

It all began with a two hour battle with Caleb over nap. A brief reprieve came mid-morning in the form of a trip to the farm in rain coats and mud boots, camera in hand.

The smell of freshly loaded silage, warm milk, and spring seed greeted us as we emerged from the car. We spent a lovely hour visiting the calves and petting barn cats and feeding the goldfish in the farm wife's amazing pond. We picked some rose buds off her tree, which was just beginning to flower. I marveled afresh at the co-mingling of ugly and utilitarian with beautiful and rare. The freedom of routine that has allowed these hearty people to flourish under back-breaking work and endless responsibility, planted as they are on this windy hill a mile from our home.

We paused on the way home to get out on the "troll bridge" - an unexpected treat. We marveled together at a small deer carcass graveyard (fascinating stuff to children, jawbones and ribcages!). We listened to the distant hum of an approaching train on the rusty tracks...until the sensible mother in me hauled the entranced wee ones off the rickety rail high above and back to the safety of the blacktop on the other side.

Home again. Kids with the flu. T-ball practice to prepare for. Lunch and dinner unplanned. A stressful doctor's appointment in the afternoon. T-ball practice, right at dinner time. Dinner was late, Aaron called in to work - good for the finances, a strain on the wife's workload! An e-mail announces a crisis at school stemming from the spring semester, which has just ended. An error in textbook writing discovered and in need of correcting. And so it went, on and on.

I wanted to throw my hands in the air, throw my head back and holler - perhaps even swear a bit!

I thought about not writing this. I prayed about it, actually. I don't write these words to be a discouragement. I write them because they are real. I want to nail a name to something that doesn't get hung up in public in the Christian community. I want you to know that living with cancer doesn't immediately transport one into the realm of the saints. It is a process of daily working out my faith, working out the difficult little details with God. For instance: why, God, would you pile on trouble after trouble today? On this day when cancer is rearing it's ugly head and I have to come to grips with the fact that my future is that uncertain, why allow all these other tests to enter in to the picture? In that sense, perhaps it was more a Job day than a Jonah day: I'm sure Job had these same feelings, multiplied a thousand times, when God allowed his livestock, children, wife and health to be swept away in one awful day!

At t-ball practice, Katy was pensive. I marveled afresh how my attitude seeps into the soil of these little souls. I prayed hard about what to say to my husband, so that I wouldn't drag him down to the depths along with me. I wrestled with God about how to be authentic, and open, and yet spare those around me the ripping and shredding that was going on in my spirit today. How to ask for support...to express my need to be lifted up, without dragging down.

And so it went for me today. There are days in everyone's life when the clouds gather and the thunder starts to roll. Today was unexpectedly awful, and I am praying that tomorrow will be unexpectedly beautiful. I have storms to weather at school, in my work as a freelance author, as I serve others in church and family, and in my health. Thank God I have His wings as my umbrella!

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

~ Under His Wings, William Cushing, 1896