This week has been a bit of a bumpy one for Jeff and I. This Tuesday was supposed to mark the start of Jeff’s third round of chemotherapy (he is to have four in total). He went for blood work, as is the norm, this past Friday and was told his white blood cell count was below the acceptable baseline for chemotherapy. Monday he went in for re-testing to see if it had improved. It hadn’t—not by enough—and he’s scheduled for another test today. We also learned due to a fever Jeff had after his first round of chemotherapy his baseline level now has to be at a higher level than it previously would have been. This was due to a mistake on our part wherein we did not take Jeff to the hospital while he had his fever, so the doctor wants his immune system to be stronger.
We struggled on Monday. It felt like we were being belatedly punished in a way. The higher baseline requirements also caught us unaware as it had not come up until after this second test. And oh, the urge was strong to beat ourselves up over it. But thanks to some well-timed prayers and encouraging words from a few fantastic people, we didn’t succumb. We expressed our frustrations, realized we couldn’t do anything else other than what we were doing in the present moment, and allowed the disappointment some space before pressing on. We can’t change what has been done, and we trust God to keep leading us and providing for us through this twist.
Monday wasn’t all about that struggle, however – we also learned pastor, professor, author, and poet Eugene H. Peterson was entering into hospice care at 85 years of age due to progressing congestive heart failure and dementia. Many in Christian circles know Eugene Peterson as the author of The Message – a paraphrase/translation of the Bible into contemporary English. (If you haven’t checked out The Message yet, do, even if you don’t count yourself a Christian. It brings the epic biblical narrative of redemption and forgiveness, of mercy and grace and love, to life in way that is touchable in the ‘here and now’ (if that makes any sort of sense, and I hope it does).) He has also authored many books, has pastored pastors, and helped many a Christian in their respective faith walks. He is an excellent guide, and comes across as a genuinely good, kind-hearted man. Eugene Peterson has a way with stories and poetry, imagination and faith, Scripture and history which have helped—do help and will help—me as a Christian, a writer, as a person.
It’s good to remember, to know good people, isn’t it? Jeff and I talked a bit about it during lunch on our not-fantastic Monday. There is something that draws us to people like Eugene Peterson, like Fred Rogers – a genuineness of character, of heart. And it’s a genuineness we want to become known for, too, even in (or maybe especially in) the midst of struggles.