Small Victories and Spotting Moments of Grace

Holiday Candle

by Marcia Schekel

Some say this is the season to be jolly, to shop and bake and decorate and mail cards, and so much more. They say it is a season of stars, hymns, and candlelight.

Some say it is their favorite time of the year. And all of this may be true for you. Or it may all be overwhelming. This time of the year is filled with expectations, and we may not be up to it.

Managing mesothelioma, in treatment or not, recovering from surgery or not, praying for NED or not, can also be overwhelming. The decisions, the appointments, the side-effects and recovery are overwhelming. Holidays may not be what they once were. And we grieve for the losses of energy, of health, of our visions of the holidays.

I find myself feeling impotent in orchestrating a grand holiday season for my family and friends. And yet, there are moments of grace — small victories. Calling a long time friend. Hearing my little grandson tell the story of Christmas. Attending an Interfaith service representing the spiritual source of Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Baha’I, and Native American communities. Lighting electric candles in my window. Hanging a fresh green wreath on my door. These are the things that are meaningful to me. What about the holidays is meaningful to you? What can you let go of?

Even when I am not feeling well, there are meaningful things I can manage. I like the title of Anne Lamott’s book, Small Victories: Improbable Moments of Grace. This line reminds me that though mesothelioma is unpredictable, there are some moments of grace I did not orchestrate, and it is up to me to notice.

We have choices and we can set limits. Let this be an encouragement for you to identify those things that are most important to you at the holidays. You do not have to do them all. Take a time out and step away from the holiday furor. Take in a movie, or church, or tea (wine) with a friend. You have a right to do things differently. Make time to recharge your spirit, and allow for moments of grace — recognize your own small victories. Light a candle. Toast your own good spirit — you are still here and we are glad!

We Will Light Candles This Season by Howard Thurman

Candles of joy despite any sadness

Candles of peace, for conflict and strife

Candles of courage for fears ever present

Candles of hope where despair keeps its watch.

Candles of love to inspire our living.

1 Comment on "Small Victories and Spotting Moments of Grace"

  1. Thanks so much for this post. It’s comforting to know that others face the same challenges at this time of year that our family does. My daughter, at age 24, was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma – on Nov 17, 2014. I was paralyzed and couldn’t get into the Christmas spirit at all. Just today she and I were talking about that time, and I was telling her how I just couldn’t muster the interest or energy for a Christmas tree. A longtime friend of mine (and breast cancer survivor) came by my house a few days before Christmas and seeing that our tree was not up, she took over. A few hours later, a stunning Christmas tree was up, lit and decorated. It became the focus of my every day during that time. In our new reality, its beauty struck me as being utterly sublime. I prayed and cried in its glow every night. Small graces…
    Last year Liv was still very much recovering, but we had a lovely and thankful Christmas. This year (yes, she’s two years from diagnosis!), due to her doctor’s schedule, her imaging has been pushed out to Dec. 22. Not great timing. It looms over the season. But for some reason, I am joyful! I think the gratitude I feel for her survival to this point surpasses the never-ending worry about it reasserting. It’s as if there is joy in my heart while my mind does all the worrying.
    May we all have moments of grace through Christmas and the holidays ~

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