"Brothers and sisters:Since yesterday was the 10th of October, 2010 (10-10-10), people were remarking on the fact that such a date is rare, numerically. For me, the date is significant because it is the anniversary of Katie's cancer diagnosis, four years ago.
It is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman.
The son of the slave woman was born naturally,
the son of the freeborn through a promise.
Now this is an allegory.
These women represent two covenants.
One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery;
this is Hagar.
But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother.
For it is written:
Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children;
break forth and shout, you who were not in labor;
for more numerous are the children of the deserted one
than of her who has a husband.
Therefore, brothers and sisters,
we are children not of the slave woman
but of the freeborn woman.
For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm
and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."
Gregg did not remember that this is so. I did not mention it to David when we spoke on the phone, so I don't know if he remembers it, either. But I do.
I thought about this date as I lay in bed last night - thought about the shock, fear and desire for it to be untrue that I was feeling so strongly, four years ago. I remembered lying with Gregg all night in a fold-out-chair cot, which was designed for one person. We didn't really sleep. Katie was in the hospital bed right next to us - her first night as a patient. We were stuffed into this little cot, because neither of us was willing to go home & leave the others. We had no clear diagnosis yet, but Katie had a mass in her abdomen, so we had been admitted to the cancer ward. We listened to the dear mother and daughter next to us, as they spoke in Spanish to one another, and as the daughter vomited from the effects of her chemo.
I was terrified.I remembered getting bed linens from the linen supply closet on the ward, and talking privately to a very kind nurse, Fiona. She was so tender with me. We were so NEW. It was as if we were lost - as if we had just arrived, by mistake, onto a new planet.
This made me think of the Ten Commandments, which have been so helpful in guiding many of us as we grow. I see them as a loving provision of basic wisdom from God. They made me a bit afraid when I was a child, but as I grew, I saw that they help us, because they make so much sense. If we keep them, the world is a far gentler, more sane, compassionate place to live. But living under the Law of Moses is not the same as the freedom of living under the Law of Love that Jesus brought to us.
It wasn't comforting to me, on the cancer ward with my 11-and-a-half-year-old daughter, to face the first hours of having "nothing but God." It was terrifying to be there. But the freedom that stands out to me now is the freedom of having nothing else to do, nothing to distract me from what was in front of me; of doing whatever is necessary in love, with the best spirit possible, under the circumstances. It had nothing to do with church, or Bible study, or committee work, or being a deacon or a Stephen Minister, or who I was, or how "good" I felt I needed to be. I was there, with the clothes on my back, and very little else. I was who I was IN THAT MOMENT, and apparently, for God, that is enough to work with.