Thursday, February 23, 2012

Driveways, Gum, and the Great Abyss

February is perhaps the month of the great abyss.  It is dismal.  Despite being clipped of a couple of days, February is never ending. 

I see my life in similar terms lately.  The days seem to fall into a great abyss.  I am doing what ought to bring about something--exercising, eating less, writing, mailing out manuscripts, searching for jobs, sending applications.  But it feels like I hear and see nothing.

The faith end is similar, and it is perhaps here that I put more trust and hope.  I believe in Divine Intervention.  I have witnessed it.  I know that I know that I know that I know it happens.  But it seems to fall short lately.

Or so I thought when I was shoveling the driveway a couple of weeks ago, much to my elder son's delight and my younger son's disdain.

"Come on, Little Brother!" yelled the big one.  "Let's make a fort!"

The little one snorted.  "Mom, when can we go to the pool already?"

My husband says I do things like shovel the parking spaces for myself.  This is partly true.  When I can't go on my local walk for fear of being taken out by a speeding vehicle careening down a hill, then tossing tens of pounds of snow onto the bushes relieves a little of that frustration.  It also shortens my time in the house with two boys playing "Spin and Die" on the desk chair.  The object of the game is to knock one's brother out of the rotating chair and climb into it one's self without damaging the TV or computer or being loud enough to summon a screaming parent.

Still, after clearing five or so parking spaces for the second time in a week, a thank you would have been really appreciated.  Not that I expected anyone to go out of their way to say thank you, but when one neighbor passed by without even eye contact, I was a little disappointed.  I consoled myself by thinking that she probably thought I was blaming her for not doing it herself (Please.  As if I couldn't see how impossible that was for her with her own two boys)!  But we tend to overlook the fact that others are sometimes not blaming us when we are busy blaming ourselves.

But then, a new girl who had moved in just recently caught me a couple of days later.

"Do your boys like gum?" she asked.  I nodded, strangely impressed because I hadn't realized that she even knew I had boys (Please. As if she could miss the cacophonous creatures who routinely issue forth from my front door).

"I really appreciated your shoveling my car out," she said as I brightened inwardly.  "I moved from LA, and I had no idea what to do for the snow."  She popped into her apartment and re-emerged not with one pack but with EIGHT packs of wintergreen gum.

"Wow," I said.

"I have chocolate, too," she offered.  "Do your boys like chocolate?"

Remembering how eating less and exercising more was already not working so well, I muttered, "Uh, yes, but no thanks."

"Well, thanks again," she said.

I stared at the mound of gum.  There was no way my kids could eat this much.

But life is not really a great abyss, as I was seeing once again.  I had recently written a piece on gumballs, which I had shared with a friend (and which I am trying to sell.  You don't happen to know anyone who wants to PAY to publish 800 rollicking words on childhood escapades involving gum, do you?).  She wrote back with a story of her daughter who still loves gum.

A few days after the gift, the same friend wrote that this same daughter has had further issues with her inoperable brain tumor and will require more chemo and radiation.  I knew at that moment that the gum wasn't just for us and, more importantly, I knew just who it was for.  I slipped out one pack for each of the boys and slid the remaining six into my friend's front door.

I wrote, "After your email about your daughter and your earlier note about how she also loves gum, I stuck some gum for her behind your door.  I've heard that chemo sometimes makes your mouth taste bad or makes you feel slightly nauseous, and someone told me that mint helps.  I hope she enjoys it!"

She wrote back, "It's incredible that you did leave gum.   She does need and use it.  In fact, when we were seeing the MD fo[r] her consult yesterday, she asked me if I had any.  ...A GREAT BIG THANKS FOR THE GUM."

And I knew that even though it's still February, it's not really the edge of the great abyss.  I might rather see some bigger answers to my prayers (a writing contract perhaps) just as I'm sure my friend would rather have her daughter's tumor completely healed than mint gum to help assuage her nausea.

But God says His grace is sufficient, and sometimes He reminds us that He's here.  So as I walk beside the pit, I have to remember that, no, it's not really the great abyss and that I'm holding the hand of One who is more than capable of fishing me out of it.

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