Amanda Barber

Stories, songs, and thoughts on life.

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Thanksgiving and a Song

26 November 2019

It felt like a pure gift from God to be pain free, happily absorbed in musical composition, astonished that something so beautiful was coming out of my head. I kept thanking Him over and over again for it, hoping against hope that this gift might go on for a month or two or more… But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

This year has not been an easy one for me. Right before the first of January, I found out I had Lyme disease and mycoplasma pneumoniae as well as a host of food sensitivities. As the year progressed and treatment began, I found out that there were many other issues at work–Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and high histamine levels in my body caused, most likely, by very high levels of mold spores (two species, of which, are known autoimmune triggers) in my house. Most recently, I have discovered that I also have a uterine fibroid and an ovarian cyst. This would be one reason I have so much pelvic pain on a cyclical schedule.

Today (November 26) has not been a good day. Following two weeks of very minimal symptoms, I have had a day of stomach pain, pelvic pain, clumsiness, brain fog, fatigue, and headache all preceded by gradually increasing OCD symptoms. It’s hard when these flares hit after feeling good for so long. Just a week ago I told Jonathon, “I feel like I’m coming alive again. I have energy! For the first time in years, I have been utterly, completely, and happily absorbed in a creative project!” But this is what treatment for chronic infections looks like. I feel like I slowly climb up a flight of stairs high enough to see the light and then fall back down half of them into the dark. I know I am getting better slowly, but there are days when I feel like someone is reaching out of a dark pit to grab my ankle and pull me under again.

And yet, I am so thankful for the two weeks before this one.

It was at church a few Sundays back that someone reminded me I needed to choose a Christmas song to sing for our Christmas program next month. On the way home, I pondered what to pick and The Wexford Carol popped into my head. “I’d like to sing it,” I told Jonathon, “but I doubt I’ll find an arrangement that I love. I mean, I can almost hear how it should go in my head, but where would I begin looking for what I’m hearing?” As soon as I said the words, I cringed because I knew what he was going to say next. “Well, get to work, then!” So, the next day, I got out my manuscript paper, sat down at the piano and started plunking out some harmonizations, a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to finish what I started. For a week and a half, I had the new project on my mind all the time. I’d sit at the piano and lose track of time. With no pain to distract me and my mind clear and focused, two hours would fly by like minutes.

I finished it last week on Tuesday, and I am so pleased with it. But I am more pleased with what it represented. It felt like God was just handing me a gift, for the only purpose of seeing me act delighted. I wanted it to go on for a lot longer. It didn’t, but that makes it no less valuable a gift. For a little while, I had a reminder of what life can be on the other side of my illness. I have had many tears today because it feels like night closing in and I can’t say how long it might last this time. But I have had a beautiful day not so long ago.

The timing of the project with Thanksgiving Day approaching has struck me–thanking God on Thanksgiving Day for what He did at Christmas time…

Good people, all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind,
What our good God for us has done,
In sending His beloved son!

With Mary, holy, we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day.
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born!

As the Psalmist said, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” My pessimistic mind tells me that the morning never lasts and there’s always another night around the corner. And that is true. But because our good God sent His beloved Son, I can endure the nights and thank Him for all the mornings until the last night interrupted by the brightest morning I have ever seen.