Friday, December 30, 2011

Never-Ending Paperwork and the Labyrinth

Well, I have indeed learned that retirement does not mean the end of paperwork. I still have medical bills to sort, health insurance to sign up for every year and pay for out of pocket now, email to check, bills to pay, old statements to shred, computers to maintain, etc. A few years ago my sister gave me a miniature labyrinth with a little stylus to navigate through it. A labyrinth is a spiral; sometimes it is set up as a maze. As one walks to the center, it represents one’s spiritual journey through life. Once in the center you can rest and commune with God. Then you walk back out, taking God and His thoughts with you back into the daily grind of life. You can make a simple one just by lining stones up in a spiral pattern in your yard. The miniature one I have is a copy of a life-size one in Chartres Cathedral in France. It is set up as a maze, whose twists and turns represent the unexpected twists and turns we encounter as we travel our spiritual journey through life. God helps us get through these unexpected twists and turns. Remember the poem “Footprints in the Sand”? It talked about Jesus carrying us through these unexpected twists and turns and that’s why at times there is only 1 set of footprints in the sand.

When I was cleaning out my office last week, I found the miniature labyrinth and decided to put it in my desk drawer. I always know where it is now and can start my day by “walking” the labyrinth. Especially now, whenever I have never-ending paperwork, I can “walk” the labyrinth first. The paperwork gets done more quickly and more efficiently when I have God helping me.

One time I actually got “lost” in the labyrinth! My stylus could not find the way out! I felt really dumb, since I was the one operating the stylus. I guess it skipped over a line because I had to finally lift it up and start all over again. The second time I did it correctly. I guess Jesus had to carry me out! I got lost 2 other times but realized it was because I was tired and not paying attention to the stylus and its path. When I slowed down and concentrated on my spiritual walk with God, I got in and out easily. Today I walked on the treadmill and used my weight machine while listening to one of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas CDs. Then I got lost going in the labyrinth! I could not find my way to the center! So I took a deep breath and said, “OK, God, how do I get to the middle, into your presence, into the Holy of Holies of the ancient Jewish temple?” (I am reading the book of Leviticus, which describes the construction and purpose of the various halls, gates, and rooms of the temple). “How did I get this far in my recovery of my health, Lord? Ah, yes, I remember now! It was my faith, belief, and knowledge of Your truth that brought me thus far, and, as the song Amazing Grace says, ‘Faith will lead me home.’” And so I went right into the middle of the labyrinth, and I felt such a peace come over me, such calmness and serenity. I was truly in the presence of God, sitting right here in my home office. But I shouldn’t be surprised, because God is with me always. My next step was to come out of the Labyrinth. I did not want to leave the presence of my Supreme Being. But then I remembered that even though I don’t always acknowledge Him verbally, I know He is right there, to take my hand if I reach out for Him, to put his arm around my shoulder if I need a hug, to carry me if I am too weak to walk. So I said, “Come on, God, let’s go back to the real world; I have to share these thoughts with my prayer partners, and I know that you will be with me always wherever I go, because I have faith and belief in the knowledge of Your truth!!”

By the way, my tumor marker count continues to go down. It went from 6.6 to 6.1. Remember, it started at 204!!! Oh, yes, God is always with me, wherever I go!

Pictures show my garden in December. The buds of the succulent alligator plant that I showed in the last blog post are blooming now. The cactus, which lives in a harsh arid environment, reminds me that no matter how bad my situation may become, I will come through with flying colors, because God is with me, providing all my needs. The aloe plant (a gift from a dear friend) represents the soothing balm of my prayer/support group. The knockout roses represent my sisters, who gave them to me because they bloom throughout the winter until February, even in the snow up north. Like the cactus, they are hardy and can live through cold harsh conditions. The gerber daisies are still blooming. This tortoise that is looking up at the photographer, is reminding Al not to eat its giant cousins when we go to the Galapagos Islands (something Al has been threatening to do – he loves turtle soup!)

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