Reflections

Under My Pillow

Eleanor Deckert

In the evening:

Oh, I hope I can sleep tonight. You would think the appetite for sleep would just take over, like hunger or thirst. But, no, it is harder than catching a butterfly. I get close and almost capture it, then, suddenly, an alarming thought chases it further away. I know the facts. 'Fight or Flight' is not the recipe for sleep. I have to monitor my thoughts and emotions.

Tonight, I have a plan.

I cautiously stalk the elusive Sandman.

The drawer in my bedside table is a treasure chest of beautiful, meaningful, reassuring items.

Last month, Sylvia gave me lavender scented hand lotion she made herself. I allow her kindness and the indescribably soothing smell to help me enter a deep relaxation.

Opening to the bookmark, I slowly savour the evening readings in the prayer book that Father Sasges gave me five years ago. Knowing that I am reading this page on this day at this time with perhaps millions of others, I travel in my imagination to churches, shrines, homes, and people of all nations in prayer around the globe. I belong with these people. My muscles loosen their grip. I feel like a leaf floating down a gentle current.

Next, I tuck my little red New Testament and Psalms under my pillow where I can touch it in the middle of the night. 1974 was a long time ago. It has been my companion since then every time I travel. The Psalms tell me that every emotion, fear, doubt and dark despair echo across centuries in every heart, yet, trust in God's Providence restores bright security. I am not alone.

Also under my pillow is the Rosary my husband found for me at Farmer's Market last summer. Hand-made with green agate beads, I have added a crucifix that belonged to Barb Liscumb and was given to me after she died nearly 20 years ago, and a locket with a tiny painting of the Holy Family. Mary held her Infant to her breast for comfort, nourishment and mother-love. Emmanuel: God with us. Every Christmas card reminds us of the sweet goodness He felt in her arms. Now, she is my Mother, too. I can take myself to this cradle and rest in bliss.

If I feel anxious in the night, I can reach under my pillow and touch these two significant Helpers.

In the morning:

My habit is to read the prayer book Father Sasges gave me as soon as I wake up. It takes away the isolation and makes me feel connected. It takes away the rumbling anxiety and makes me feel safe and content.

But, today, on my first morning to wake up in the cancer clinic dormitory, snug in my bed, with just enough dawn coming in through the window, on an impulse, I do the 'open and point' method. Is God really there? Can He guide my hand and eyes to find a specific, helpful Bible verse?

I have my small, red New Testament with me wherever I go. In high school, I used to wear it in the back pocket of my jeans. Now it is in my backpack in a small embroidered bag that my childhood friend, Liz, made for me. The book is tattered. The bag is tattered. But, the continuity is soothing. There are lots of places underlined here and there, dates in the margin, an arrow, or happy face, or exclamation mark. Familiar. Comforting. Usually, I read in sequence. But today, it will be a random surprise.

Here goes! Open. Point.

II Timothy 1:7

For God did not give us a spirit of fear.

God gives us a spirit of power

and love and sound mind.

I'll take it! I want that! Yes, please!

'Sound mind!' Yes!

I want a sound mind!

And I know Who to ask for this gift.

That was great. I want to do it again.

Open. Point.

Psalm 78: 52-53

Oh, Look! It's the Psalm describing the Passover!

God LED forth his own people like sheep

and GUIDED them in the wilderness.

He led them to SAFETY, so that they FEARED NOT;

but the sea OVERWHELMED THE ENEMY.

This is the God that the ancient Hebrew people and modern Christians believe in. The One who can enter time and space. The God who makes things happen. The God who made and loves and sees and provides and protects His people. And, look! The enemy is blotted out.

I am one of His people. Let me put my own name in there.

“God led Eleanor. She allowed herself to be led.

I am like the Little Lost Lamb. The Lord is my Shepherd.

He guided Eleanor while she was wandering,

alone, confused in the inhospitable wilderness.

God led Eleanor to safety.

Eleanor can trust Him and not be afraid.

The enemy cells that were inside her body are being destroyed.

The cancer will be overwhelmed.”

I want to print this on a banner and carry it with me everywhere I go! And, I have so many places to go today.

Excerpt from Chapter 5, Book 5, expected to be in print in October, 2018.

“10 Days in April... a detour through breast cancer”

© Eleanor Deckert