(A Guest Post by Brenda Petersen, also known as my Mom. Who has been amazingly brave, peaceful, and full of grace during her treatment for breast cancer. The following is a meditation over her experience thus far.)
In Holland, Michigan, over on Washington Avenue, the medical buildings have gigantic numbers over their outside doors to identify their departments. As the 2014 Advent season was unfolding, I dutifully went to Door Four, for what was anticipated to be a routine yearly mammogram at the Breast and Bone Health Center. My family’s season of Advent has since blended into the Lenten season, as we navigate the waters of my breast cancer diagnosis.
2002, my husband and I went to spend time with a part of our beloved family in Europe. Together we visited several cathedrals and domes. The artwork depicting the Stations of the Cross leading up to Christ’s crucifixion, were the images that lingered with me. As the rhythm of the liturgical season enters into Lent, the Stations of the Cross came to mind. In an effort to make sense of my present journey, it became clear to me; I was experiencing something akin to Four Stations of Breast Cancer.
In all four stations I am instructed that I will need to BE STILL! That seems to be the overriding directive to me, and there are no exceptions.
- MRI: You must put your arms out directly in front of you like you are flying. Once you go into the tunnel there will be loud distracting noises all around you. You may become frightened, if so, tell us and we will talk you through it, otherwise, just fly.
(Directive: Loud world…you can ask for help…but you must fly)
- Surgery: On the operating table we need to take your arms and spread them directly out and securely attach them to the sideboards.
(Directive: It’s like the crucifixion you must lay yourself out to gain life)
- Chemotherapy: We have picked “your dandelion” and now we must put down weed killer to be sure there are no seeds floating around. We will infuse your body with chemicals via this port directly into your veins. The chemicals will kill off any rouge cancer cells, but at the same time will kill off your good cells as well.
(Directive: Die to everything, and new cells will then reproduce and will be healthy)
- Radiation: We will map your chest wall and then proceed to radiate the area; to be sure there are no remaining cancer cells. Your only job is to stand there and hold your arms over your head and no matter what do not lower your arms.
(Directive: Keep your arms raised up to the heavens)
Those are pretty clear directives I hear. Even though this is a turn in my journey I would never have taken on my own, I am beginning to know, it is a path that is going to lead me to a greater understanding of just how magnificent it is to be still and see a little more clearly who God really is. In addition to being still, I am going to be practicing positions of flying, opening my arms wide, and holding my arms up in praise…I am going to need those for eternity!
How are you practicing being still in these present days? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Brenda Petersen worked as a Family Advocate with Shelby Public Schools for 22 years. She now resides in Holland, MI with her husband Philip. Four kids call her Grandma B. She shares her faith and experiences in person and with her writing