Sunday, December 14, 2014

A desolate beauty and the perspective that cancer offers

Today I went for a run with my daughter and the dogs.  It was cold out, a crisp winter morning, but lacking the snow cover that would make it feel overtly Christmas-like.  We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood that is nestled into the national forest.  It is truly beautiful.

Lauren and I stopped at the lake and sat for a bit in the stillness and quiet.  I thought about how different that this place feels from the summertime when the air is filled with birdsong, cicadas, children's laughter and more than anything else, the color green.

The trees seem naked and cold.  The earth is covered in spent leaves, interrupted only by brown tree trunks and frost.  It is a lonely landscape, where you can now see quite far, view the contours of the land and detect streambeds that had previously been hidden by the summer foliage. 

For some, looking upon this landscape, it would have seemed bleak and despairing---a loss. The summer warmth had left. All of the vibrancy of autumn had been stripped down. It was still and cold. But Lauren and I could look across the land and witness countless trees including some truly enormous oaks that a few short months ago were completely hidden from view.  They stood together in the denuded forest, their presence pronouncing a quiet strength, and each form proclaiming a solid footing.

I talked to Lauren about how in the bustle of daily living, you can get lost.  You can fail to see the forest, for the trees. Sometimes, you can even miss the trees for the abundance of leaves obscuring your view. 

The Ramers are having a bit of a pause right now, as we anticipate my son's surgical biopsy later this week.  It is one of those moments that your life swivels on.  Unfortunately, we have become somewhat accustomed to such moments.

As we walked back home with the dogs, Lauren and I ran into our neighbors, who we seldom see.  One is a pilot, who had reached out and generously offered his help when Brent needed to return from New York after surgery three years ago. We exchanged pleasantries, but I was suddenly struck by how large the forest is, and how numerous the trees. 

When cancer enforces a pause in life, removing all of the comfort and distraction of routine living, you can see so much farther. The forms and structures of the landscape become evident.  The character of the terrain is revealed.  And we are reminded that many surround us, who in our busy moments of daily living, we cannot see, or simply fail to notice. 

While I detest cancer, it is the vehicle by which I have seen a great forest, a community of strength, of support and of compassion. Vast evidence of love has been revealed to me in our exposed and vulnerable state.

So even in this, I find an uncommon beauty.

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