Unexpected Reminders

“Do not look to the ground for your next step; greatness lies with those who look to the horizon.”

Norwegian Proverb

7:12 a.m……March 3, 2022…..Before Daylight Savings Time took the early light away…..

Coming out of the underground garage at my apartment complex, preoccupied with what lay ahead at my visit to the clinic this time, I pushed lightly on the accelerator to take the uphill rise to the street. My eyes saw what they needed to but had not yet grasped what else already lay before them.

Out of the snowy, barren little hill across the street and its trees and brush that hide nothing now, came movement down its banks. And there they were. Three deer, moving slowly and carefully toward the street. And me. A doe and her twin fawns! My mind awoke to this sudden surprise, my spirit was already dancing, and I kept whispering, “Oh! Oh! Oh!”

Then there were not just three. Another doe and her fawn joined the little group, and both mothers – I swear – looked both ways to cross safely. Still not done, the little group added two more, including the largest of the bunch who looked big enough to be a buck, though bucks typically do not stay with family after the rut in the fall. So perhaps an older doe. The matriarch, bringing up the rear.

I put the van in park, grabbed my phone and made a video as they reached our side of the street, checking me out, and beginning to graze on the available brown grass amid the lingering snow around our building. To say that the horizon of that day – literally – changed me is to affirm the wisdom of that Norwegian ancestor’s words. It has stayed with me, and I have needed it deeply.

I have not written for a month because I just haven’t had the physical, mental or creative energy to dig deeply enough. My lymphoma treatments – monoclonal antibodies and a chemo pill – have been light years away from the treatment I survived in late 2020. I had been greatly relieved.

Then came body aches (think especially, back), low-grade temperatures that kept me cold and chilled, a diminishing appetite and two trips to the e.r. with my temperature above 100.4. My body became the site of nearly constant pains of one kind or another, of discomfort and some growing weakness. They were still in a different universe from what I had endured before, but constancy can wear down even the brave over time. My world was growing smaller by the day.

I became just a bit crabby.

So when our neighborhood deer showed up on that particular morning to bring me the joy of nature’s sweetest things, I was blessed. I was pulled back into the whole of my life, most of which is still rich and beautiful and full of possibility.

I am in the hospital as I write this, with high temperatures coming under control and feeling alert and involved with my life here. The nurses and I are getting to be great friends, and I always, always make it a priority to let them know how grateful I am for their answering their call to be healers. Too often, they are surprised. It should not be so.

They are my horizon while I am here. (Shout-out to Jasmine, who was my nurse and the presence of grace for two shifts, who loved sharing stories, who listened intently, and who had the most fabulous, dense tattoos on her upper right arm..!!)

Treatment continues through May, and I am home now and doing pretty well so far. The road ahead surely still has surprises, but I am finding myself more aware again of where and why to look for my horizons as they show up. I can’t wait to find out from what corner of my little universe they appear.

They keep me level.

And I’m very okay with that.

13 thoughts on “Unexpected Reminders

  1. Martha, I recently had a similar life transition to your’s
    when you left Plymouth so many years ago. After 79 and a half years in Des Moines, due to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, I moved to BOSTON and am living with my daughter. God bless both of my girls, who packed me up as I sold my house, and said goodbye to my friends. It was a very difficult time for me.
    As I was unpacking a box of memories, to my great joy, I found a tape of your final sermon at Plymouth! I found comfort in listening to you, feeling a connection with your time of transition.
    My daughter found your blog, for which I am very grateful.
    I am sorry for your loss, and your health issues. I am comforted by your words of grace as you travel through what life is for you at this time. I humbly follow behind you, finding strength in your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Molly! My goodness, what a wonderful voice from the past! First, let me say that I am saddened by your health issues, and at the same time, I rejoice that you have the close connection to your daughters and that you can move into these coming days with them. I am mind-boggled that you still have the tape from 1998!!!! And I’m so glad that it has led you back into my circle of friendship. I’m so humbled that you have found White Hair Grace meaningful, for that fulfills my purpose in writing it. And as far as I can see, you are not following behind…we are side by side, my friend. Thank you so much for getting in touch. So many sweet memories from Des Moines days!!!

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  2. Such a beautiful blessing with the deer! They are such awesome creatures. I love how you put that both of the mamas looked both ways before crossing the street. Praying for you and for continued healing. So nice to read a new post from you…always a blessing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Martha! Yet, again, you nourish us all even in the midst of your health challenges. Your spirit shines so brightly, my friend. I am in central Oregon for a few days visiting my sister. Today I revisited a beautiful river here — the Metoleus — where the blue shades of the glacial water are the most striking I’ve ever seen in a fast flowing stream. Just as I parked, an enormous eagle swooped down to the surface and away again. I was still in my car, my camera still in its bag. All I could “do” was gasp loudly and savor the moment. Holding you in my heart, sending healing energy your way. TOM

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    1. Oh, Martha, it’s so good to hear from you! You have had such a magnificent year, and I’ve loved following it all on your blog! You don’t know how often your presence has held me in comfort on this second round with this lymphoma. You taught me so much that I can honestly say that your wisdom and encouragement has been part of upholding me once again. Thank you for the memories, and for the hope in the time ahead. Feeling your healing energy! TOM

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  4. It’s good to hear from you, Martha. Thank you for this gift of the trancendence of deer. I’ve had that experience, and I appreciated being reminded of it. I’m glad the nurses have been taking good care of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s very good to be back, Liz! And very good to hear from you. As I make my way through this latest journey, I’m learning more and more about grace; and some of that is related to friends like you whom I have met here!

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  5. Martha, Martha, Martha…thank you for the inspiring call to start looking for unexpected horizons in my own life. My eyes are officially wide open! Being in L.A., I don’t think I’ll get many deer, but as you have so beautifully pointed out, horizons come in all shapes and sizes! Thank you for this sweet reminder.

    >

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    1. Bill, Bill, Bill…I can only begin to imagine the horizons you have available under that warm, blue sky, ready for your capacity for noticing new things out of the familiar. Thank you for your sweet words! Can’t wait to see what comes up new in your life!

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