The loud and painful anger of his cough tears the silence in our home. Temperatures outside are wintery white but the heat and pain of disease rages in his chest. It is worse when cold winter air is thin. Lungs suck sparse oxygen and require machines to supply enough. I am helpless to stop the tearing. Hopeless with the ache to still the sound of death that hisses and wheezes his breath.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came (Jesus said) that they might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Later in John 10, there is mention of the Feast of Dedication, which is “a feast of renewing…an occasion of much rejoicing and festivity.” At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. And then this statement: It was winter. (John 10:22).
I am greatly intrigued as I read: It was winter (John 10:22). Why was that important? First the mention of the sheep and the thief – one who steals, kills and destroys – contrasted with the One Who provides life abundantly. Likewise, mention of the Feast of Dedication – an occasion of much rejoicing and festivity – with the solemn reminder that It was winter.
It is winter in our home – not only outside but in. There is a chill that comes rushing in with labored breath and need for oxygen. Ice can form on hearts that fight against the goodness of God’s presence when the darkness of winter presses in. My heart pushes away from the pain of watching him suffer with disease – yet I strain and stretch to reach through my fear of abandonment if/when he is gone before me – when our us becomes me and I – those solitary words that threaten to rip heart from cage of ribs and flesh. It is a familiar ripping from childhood trauma and pain – it hurt too much to hope for more. But it is not then. I am not there. I am here. Now. With him. Not without. And we are held in the grip of the One Who breathes His hope into us. It is a hope that will be realized. A hope for His presence and strength. A way through. There can be a Feast of Dedication – an occasion of much rejoicing and festivity – even when it is winter.
It is a journey of trust from this step to the next. I do not know – nor does he – what lies ahead. We only know we are held and that in the holding we are free to hold tight to one another. For better or worse, in richer and in poorer, in sickness and in health, till death…the words of promise remind me to look fully into the face of him to whom I promised my troth – my truth – 44 years ago. I will stay present. I will walk into this with you. We will walk together.
The words of Mary’s song, by Amy Grant, serve as prayer for us.
Breath of Heaven
Hold us together
Be forever near us
Breath of heaven…
Breath of heaven
Lighten our darkness
Pour over us your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven…
I pray for him, my husband, my love, for the Breath of Heaven to hold, lighten, pour over and keep. Breath of Heaven, course through his lungs your health and sustenance in the winter months of this life. Hold him together…be forever near him…Breath of Heaven. The journey is sweet and full of the warmth of God’s breath over us, keeping us close, leading us into winter with our Shepherd’s protection and watchful eye. We are safe here – together – in Him.
Christine Browning is a lover of story—including her own. She loves to hear and longs to respond well to others’ stories. A late bloomer in the field of education, it is her absolute delight to teach at Milligan College in East Tennessee. She also counsels women who have experienced trauma and abuse. Christine is the mother of three adult children, three incredible grandchildren and has been married for 42+ years to her delightfully playful husband, Tom.
The Breath of Heaven – come near to us. Settle upon our hearts and minds. Shalom.
And He does!
Christine, I pray for you this morning and your dear husband. I do not know you, yet I am a wife and not far behind you in the journey you are on. A journey we will all be on some day. Thank you for the depth of your story telling heart and thank you for the call to be aware of all the days ahead and behind us and to cling to the breath of heaven. I am sorry for the childhood trauma that has been called forth with this one. May Jesus be near and strong for you and your husband.
Becky, Thank you so much for your very encouraging words…and especially for your prayers. Christine
Hope in the face of death come nigh….this is the power of God. Bless you as you minister and wait and hope. May the Breath of Heaven invigorate you, body and soul.
A beautiful prayer. Thank you! Christine
My husband and I are not there yet, but we will be too soon. The thought of it sucks the air out of me. You, and others here, are in my prayers.
You are in my prayers, as well. One of the most beautiful things about Red Tent Living is the community of women it builds even though we have never met…we can strengthen and encourage one another through our words and prayers. Christine
The cold of winter and the icey wind that tears at your soul are so familiar to me, you have painted a picture with Tom they feels so close and real. I hate the bitterness of it Christine, and yet I found myself smiling at the rest you two are finding in the midst of the cold. I pray for many sweet days for you both as continue to walk this difficult road.
Thank you for your kind words, Tracy and for providing a space for women to share burdens, grief, smiles and hearts.
Dear Christine…I love the tenderness of your togetherness with Tom. Your prayers for him touched deep places in my heart. Your words hold much love and beauty for Tom and his life. Thank you.
Mary Jane, your words mean a great deal to me. Thank you for sending them.
Dear Christine…my heart aches for that place that you find yourself and your dear husband in. My tears and my prayers flow for you both. I know that ache and the wondering what life will be without…I love that you are staying present, and that God is so near that you are experiencing His very breath. I picture His arms wrapped around you both, holding you together as you rest in Him.
My husband has fought pneumonia a couple of times…the first time brought days of not knowing if he would pull through. I know the sound of that tearing cough. I can still feel anxiety at the sound of a cough. I know that awful feeling of helplessness. Again, my heart is aching for that for you. That time in my life did bring a surrendering and a closeness to God, as well as to my husband, that I had not experienced before…a deepening of love for each other and for God and an experiencing of His love that has effected me/us since. I am forever grateful for that. May you hold onto that love and closeness and may it carry you…
Torrey, thank you for you tears, prayers and wise, encouraging words. My husband and I have also found a greater appreciation for our marriage, for each other and for God’s genuine goodness. Thank you again for your kindness. Christine
Dear Christine, It’s been a hard/joy privilege to watch you and Tom face the uncertainty and the stealing of Tom’s breath. The words that speak the story seem frigid and frozen. Yet out of the still cover of white winter comes those sweet words the bring the yellow sonshine to visit upon your home……”We will walk together”. Valerie
Thank you for you kind words my friend. They always feed. Love you, Christine