A hope I can stand.
I am not going to be alone in this but I love this time of year.
Today is officially the first day of Spring and, here at least, the weather has not disappointed. There is a measurable warmth in the sun coming through the window and a brightness and clarity to the light that is full of promise. And I think it is the promise I like most. Analyse this if you will but I love the first buds on trees and bushes, crocuses as they break out of the ground, early daffodils and the shape and colour of closed tulips. Somehow I don’t notice so much the fulfilment of summer.
I could fill this entry with clichés on Spring and new life and the end of death and darkness (you may think I have already started) but I shall restrict myself to the theme of hope.
Not that I can hope (did you see what I did there) to cover that theme adequately here, nor am I anywhere near qualified enough to give you a thoroughly considered theological or philosophical treatise.
It’s just that I have been thinking about hope a lot recently and need an outlet. I’ve thought about its definition, its nature, its relationship to faith, the contexts in which we talk of it, the need for hope during periods of difficulty and, amongst other things, why, if its deferral makes the heart sick, God so often seems willing to allow hope’s fulfilment to be deferred for such long periods of time and sometimes even permanently.
Hope has also been on my mind because, at times, I have struggled with what seems to be good news and with thoughts and comments designed to encourage me and to give me hope. I’d love to tell you that I was helped to think through this by the weighty words of a spiritual giant. Rather, I was pointed by a counsellor to a line from John Cleese in Clockwise:
‘It’s not the despair Laura, I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand’.
My confusion has been with the nature of the hope that I have. I hope that Janine has finished her treatment, that she is cured and that she will never experience cancer again. At the same time, I defend myself against the disappointment that this hope might be prove to be false. Hope can be audacious, as Barak Obama reminded us. It can dare to believe that something better can be achieved or reached. Where it is certain, it becomes faith and the things hoped for will certainly happen. But hope must always be rooted in reality and more important than what my hope is, is where my hope is placed.
And for me, my hope is in God. Not a hope that God will fulfil all my desires and dreams or make my life easy and care free. Not even a hope that God will heal Janine and let her live to old age. He has promised none of those things. Instead my hope is in God’s character, a certain hope that he is love, that he is good and that he is just. A hope that his perspective is eternity not time, that his ways are not my ways, his thoughts not my thoughts, and that whatever he allows to happen he works for the ultimate good of those who love him.
And that is a hope I can stand.
The stuff you really want to know
Many of you will have seen from Facebook that the third cycle of chemo is over and Janine was able to come out of hospital on Friday. This was definitely the best of the three cycles in that respect and we have a lot to be grateful for. She has been making a good recovery over the weekend after a long journey home in rush hour traffic. Thanks to sister Rachel and my Dad for mounting the rescue mission on Friday afternoon so that I could go and see Ellie perform in Bristol. More on that perhaps in another blog. All I will say for now is that to illustrate where my daughter is at, she managed to leave us standing on a street corner in Bristol not just halfway through a conversation but halfway through a sentence.
Today we managed an impromptu picnic beside the lake in South Hill Park coming home only when the noise of construction traffic eventually became too intrusive. Quite what we looked like in camping chairs with our fancy rolls, pears and pecorino cheese I can’t imagine but this is not a time for pride or vanity. Janine then managed to cook steak for dinner and make her own potato wedges before collpasing on the sofa and concluding that had probably been a step too far.
The rest of this week is about the return to neutropenia and then we wait for the scan. The date for that is the 6th April but we are not sure when we will get the results. Perhaps the week after. At that point we will know where we are and what the next few months will hold.
Thanks for sticking with a long entry even if you have resorted to scanning, which I could understand. Thank you also for all the prayers and support which are still coming our way.