stilled, toes gripping edge…
then… leaps! as Heart commits to Sea.
© 2017 Christina Chase
This is Part 2 of my journey of faith chronicled through Fibonacci poems
There is order in the created world, both seen and unseen. As a person of both faith and reason, I know that some aspects of this order can be discerned – while some will always remain Mysterious to the limited human brain. When science documentaries show the collapsing and exploding of stars, the forming of galaxies, the wondrous growth of life on our blue and green planet, some people see this as proof that God, Our Divine Creator, doesn’t exist. I, too, once drew this conclusion – but how to do so now is beyond me, for all of my eyes are open.
If there is order in the universe to be discovered by scientific methods, then the universe must have been ordered. And if it has been ordered, then there must be an Orderer. Hello, God! Continue reading
When I was going through my cancer scare, a friend of mine asked me to pray for her friend who had just been told that his leukemia was terminal. And I didn’t know what to pray. The thought of my own dying was, I think, still to close to the matter. If I were, indeed, terminal, I thought, for what would I pray? For what would I want others to pray?
After heading out of church one Sunday with a sudden, bright knowledge that I was healed, I began to understand what was important about last rites and what was needed in all of our prayers for the dying. It isn’t enough to tidy things up before one dies and then leave everything to God’s mercy. The part about leaving everything in God’s merciful hands is certainly sufficient, but the beautiful healing in that is not only the rightness of it and the sense of peace that it can bring – but also the joy.
What will it be like to be dead? Does this question seem dark and morbid to you, raising up fear? It does a little to me, but, perhaps that is instinctive, since it goes against nature to want to experience being dead. However, as people of faith, it is not a scary question to ask. For, we do not believe that death is the end of our lives. Our bodies will no longer be able to hold onto life, will die and decay back into the earth – but the life that is let go continues. Our souls, which had animated our bodies, are of spirit and therefore they are immortal and cannot die. So… what happens after our lungs stop breathing, our hearts stop beating, and our brains stop firing signals? What will life be like then? Continue reading
August 9th is nearing. And that’s when I’m supposed to find out whether or not I have cancer.
Statistically, I probably don’t, since the kind of cancer that we’re talking about is rare. Of women that have uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) only about 1 in 1000 become cancerous (lieomyosarcoma). Even so, I am rather a rare individual, already living with a debilitating motor neuron disease that only affects about 1 in 6000. That and ultrasound imaging that shows rapid growth of the outer fibroids but not the inner one leave me with no feeling of assurance.
On my optimistic days (which far outnumber the pessimistic ones) I have confidence in the mercy of God and the reality of miracles. Whether it started as cancer or not, I believe that God can cure it. On those days when I feel like I probably do have cancer, it’s simply an acknowledgment that we all have to die of something… God works in mysterious ways and enables all suffering to work for the good in His Masterpiece, the big picture.
I am too small to see the big picture. Right now, God knows what is happening inside of my body and what is best for me and the people I love. I don’t.
Having said all of that, I can see something inside of me, a truth about my particular personality, that is making this waiting period a little more difficult. Continue reading
I have rather hated the stereotype that religious people need religion as a crutch. Prayers, Scripture, faith itself, they say, are all wishful thinking that bring comfort to the elderly, the poor, and the disabled. “Poor things. Let them have their church.”
For me, religion has been much more of a challenge than a comfort. It was in the beginning and it is still now. But, it would be foolish of me to push away the comforting and consoling aspect of faith just so that I won’t fall into prejudicial people’s stereotypes. When turning to God intentionally, with my whole body, mind, heart, and soul, it is good and it is right to receive from God some solace. No one loves me more than God loves me, no one delights in me more than God delights in me, no one cares about my joy more than God cares about my joy, and no one else has my eternal life in hand but God. Knowing this, to whom else would I turn?
Lately, for almost all of 2017 so far, I have been in need of solace. I need comfort and, for me, that means that I need wisdom. I need a glimpse of the big picture so that, in faith, I may know what is right and have peace. I need a full relationship with God. I freely admit this. Does this mean, then, that religion has become a crutch for me? Well, if I am lame, don’t I need a crutch? Would the atheistic-minded naysayers of the world have me crawl or lie motionless on the ground? The mistake that nonbelievers make is in thinking that they are not crippled in the limitedness of being human. They are limping, crawling, or not moving at all – and they don’t even know it. Continue reading
You have heard scientists extol the wonders of the cosmos, passionate about the laws of physics and discovered workings of bodies and the universe. You have seen artists, brilliant in color, line, and texture, draw out the beauty of the natural world and the extraordinary in the ordinary. You have watched dancers, and athletes, too, move in rhythm, strength, and agility with the fine mastery of muscle and nerve in the poetry of motion.
And, perhaps, none of these people ever speak about God.
But… don’t they?
They may be atheists, agnostics, or secular humanists, but their passion, brilliance, athleticism, and artistry are rooted in the Divine. God is the Divine Maker, Shaper, and Mover… do they not participate in the divine life whenever they discover, express, and leap?
The Gospel, the Good News of God’s personal love and merciful gift, is written in words. But, it is received, love, and lived in and through the heart. Sometimes, the heart knows what the mind does not.
Trust is not something that I’m very good at. I like to be in control, feeling that I can manage the outcome to my liking. But, of course, I can’t always do that. Some things are out of my hands – almost everything is out of my hands.
When I first became a Christian, I was actually glad that I didn’t control everything. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for everything that happened in my life and the lives of my loved ones. I can’t say that it was a relief to know that everything is in God’s hands – that actually scared me quite a bit. But, if anyone is going to be in control, it should surely be the Creator and Master of the Universe – the One who knows best.
During my recent health odyssey, my problem with trust was made clear again. I prayed for recovery, for the end of new illnesses – but I also worried every time a new illness appeared. Legitimate concern is not a bad thing at all, for I do need to think about my body and make good decisions on taking care of it. But, worry – well, there is no room (and really no need) for worry in the life of a person of faith. And I worried a lot.
Sometimes, a song, poem, book, movie, or TV show can challenge our faith and inspire us to a better and closer relationship with God. I discovered the song below during my health odyssey (which is not quite over yet) and it cut to my heart. It is a challenge for me in my struggles – and a good inspiration to trust…
“Jesus, I Trust in You…”
© 2017 Christina Chase
Breathe in deeply.
Over the last six weeks, what with pneumonia, then bronchitis, and menstrual flow for 22 days (and counting) I’ve been struggling. Being as small as I am (58 pounds) with a twisted torso from scoliosis and weakened respiratory muscles – oh, and that whole spinal-muscular-atrophy-never-walked-can’t-move-my-arms-anymore thing – everything is just harder. I thank God for the improvements, truly, deeply, and pray that no more difficulties may come – all the while knowing that there are so many people out there who have it so much worse.
And I’ve been thinking… Through the choking on mucus, pain and bleeding, shortness of breath… Don’t I believe in God’s will? I have prayed that only God’s Positive, Perfect, Holy, Ordained Will be done. Not God’s Permissive Will, the things that aren’t part of His ideal plan, but that He will make work out for the best, but God’s Perfect Will, what He ideally wants. If being sick is exactly what God intends for the perfection of my life-never-ending, then so be it. God sees the Big Picture, which I cannot, as I’m stuck in the little details of the day – and the Big Picture is an exquisite Masterpiece.
Now, I say, “So be it” or “Thy will be done” – but, do I mean it?
If I mean it, then I should not only thank God for the times of improvement – pneumonia cleared up, the bronchitis gone – but also thank God for the new difficulties: the ongoing cramping, bloating that makes it hard for me to breathe and causes my heart to race, the loss of blood, the anxiety that there may be something terribly wrong in my reproductive system, whatever new cold might pop up. I should groan and nearly scream in pain, I should struggle for air, and I should say, “Thank You.” And I’m serious here. I’ve tried it, and I have to say, it’s much easier said than done. I believe in the principle, I believe it’s a good thing to do, to be grateful for God’s Perfect Will… But, it’s another struggle.
I am trying to learn everything that I can from this trial and these tribulations. I really do believe that there is a treasure here for me to discover, that there is richly useful knowledge and experience for me to gain. As a character said recently on a television program called Nashville, “Pain is valuable.” That’s true for country music writers, but it’s also true for all writers and artists. Perhaps, it’s true for every human being. I know it’s true for me. All of this will bring me closer to my Creator, into a more deeply and personal and intimate relationship with my Savior. Thus united and connected with God in my heart, I can then better be inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit to receive God’s love and wisdom and to be creative, to share the reality of Christ and the glory of God with others.
Being grateful for pain is extremely difficult and, being only human, I don’t know if I can really do it. But, there is another little lesson that I have learned in all of this, a practical one that is slightly easier to do, but no less important…
Even though it’s more difficult to breathe because my body hurts so much, I have to take good care of my lungs and stay healthy. So I have learned, and I continually remind myself, that, even when in pain, I must breathe in deeply. And this does feel something like gratitude…
That’s the lesson I’m sharing here in this post today:
Even when in pain,
Breathe in deeply.
© 2017 Christina Chase
For my aunt’s cancer, angiosarcoma, to be removed from her body, her nose had to be removed. After a year and a half of surgeries, nearly torturous radiation sessions, and more surgeries, her “new” nose is left permanently disfigured and dysfunctional. At least, however, she had the knowledge that the cancer was gone and her life was safe.
But, the cancer has returned.
What looked like a bruise near her jaw is actually cancer. And it, too, must be removed. I imagine that more radiations… and uncertainty… will follow.
My poor aunt! I feel awful for her and can’t even imagine what she must be feeling and thinking. How will she get through this? Where will she find the strength, the wisdom, the grace? I find myself asking the same questions that I had when she first told me of her cancer on Christmas Day, 2014. And my prayer for her now is the same as it was then. Here is what I originally wrote – about my aunt the artist and about having divine perspective, even in the face of cancer:
© 2016 Christina Chase
This is the famous 1918 photograph by Eric Enstrom called “Grace”.
It has hung in the dining room of my parents’ house since before I was born. Interestingly, although my mother was raised by a devout family in a very religious village, her family never said “grace” – a prayer said before eating. It’s hard to say whether or not my father’s family did… probably they didn’t, except, I would guess, on holidays and, then, probably only at his aunt or older sister’s promptings. This helps to explain why my parents never said a prayer at mealtime when they were married. Not until my older sister changed things. Continue reading