While Black Friday shopping with three nieces, one sister-in-law and the lovely Sarah, I found a treasure I had been seeking for several months: a leather-bound editon of Ann Voskamp’s one thousand gifts.
It’s leather-bound for men like me who love her message but may not want to be seen carrying a book with a decidedly feminine photo of hands holding a bird’s nest. Ann herself told me the men’s edition was coming when Sarah and I met her at an Advent event last December.
I think I’m going to be leaning hard into that book this Advent season.
Advent begins today. It’s the start of the liturgical year for the church and the beginning of a season of anticipation as we look toward the arrival of Christ, both the first and second coming.
As ever, the theme for the first Sunday of Advent is Hope. One of my favorite words in the whole of the dictionary. It’s right up there with gratitude.
To be honest, it’s all a struggle today.
Almost simultaneously last week, I learned that two women who are very dear to me have entered into hospice care. Nothing else can be done to treat the cancer that has maliciously invaded their bodies, so comfort measures are underway.
I sent an email to M (I haven’t asked permission to use her name so I won’t). We met in the cancer patient support group at the Cancer Support Community of East Tennessee. A more feisty, funny, evervescent soul I have never met. And she cusses like a sailor, which I love, and which I joked about in my note to her.
“I have three words for you: Fuck. Damn. Shit. Actually, they are ‘I love you.'”
“It’s not so bad,” she wrote back. “I’m sliding downhill not at a particularly slow speed so I don’t think I’ll be ‘dawdling’ very much, but I also feel peaceful about it.”
I am grateful she is at peace and that her suffering will be over. For both of my friends, there is hope in the reality that they will no longer have to endure pain, treatment, poking, prodding and everything else that goes along with being a cancer patient.
Honestly, I miss them both already. My heart hurts that such wonderful, strong and courageous women are losing their lives to a disease we’ve dedicated so much time fighting together. I’m angry that the disease we all laughed about is claiming two amazing people.
Fuck. Damn. Shit.
Stll, I am grateful to have shared the journey. I am mindful that if I hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer myself I never would have met these beautiful souls. In fact, there are a lot of people I wouldn’t know, all of whom have impacted my life in big and small ways.
When I think about hope this week, I’ll have one eye on the Nativity and the other on the hope of healed bodies, restored by and with God on the other side of this life.
Peace, love and Godspeed my friends.