It’s no surprise the love I have for words.
Sometimes, numbers capture my attention in quite the same way.
These words and numbers roll through my head like a ticker tape reel on the news feed as they weave themselves together with memories and stories on my heart.
I ponder their meaning, I fixate on them, I pay attention to how they come together, and I notice them as they beg for recognition.
Words and numbers.
Number and words.
This year I have paid extra close attention to several words and a few numbers a bit. For the last few months, the number 52 has been beating on my heart.
What is 52?
There are 52 keys on a piano.
There are 52 cards in a full deck.
There are 52 weeks in a year.
These are facts about 52 you probably already know.
In the Bible, the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (one of my favorite Old Testament Books) has precisely 52 chapters. This book has 4 main themes contained within its words:
The Power of the Prophetic Word.
The need to repent and the power of an interior conversion.
Hope in the Lord —Jeremiah 29:11: “I know the plans I have for you.”
And The New Covenant, “I will write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will no longer teach their friends and relatives, “Know the Lord”….
I took a Scripture class last year and deepened my understanding and my love of Sacred Scripture. While writing these words and looking back on class notes, I came across the connection between 52 and the Bible. Coincidence? I think not.
Jeremiah 29:11, a favorite verse in this house speaks loudly to trusting and surrendering to the plans God has for us.
Recently I listened to a homily from Fr. Mike Schmitz where he posed the question, “If you could know one thing about your future, what would it be?
When I contemplated this, I couldn’t really answer the question. I know there are things we all “want to know.” Perhaps “things” that could make our lives a bit easier if we did “know” them now rather than waiting for them to reveal themselves in the future.
And I also believe that sometimes the best way to walk through moments and challenges is with blind faith.
Because if we know something or have information about something beforehand, how do you think we would use that information, the knowledge as you continue to live?
Would we allow it, the information, to transform our daily walk, or would it get in our way in staying focused on seeking truth and growing in holiness?
Years ago, when growing our family, we chose to not learn the gender of each of our babies while growing in the womb. Such a sweet surprise when each gift of life was born. Side note: I was wrong with each prediction which made the surprises that much more fun.
We also opted to not take specific medical tests before giving birth. During my last pregnancy, I was at an age where pregnancies become “riskier,” and certain tests were recommended though NOT required.
I remember asking the doctor the purpose of these tests and what I would do with the results. He said, “it’s information.”
My question was, “What would I do with this knowledge?”
He knew my heart and tore up the order for the test.
We chose to surrender and trust. And I never looked back.
We know knowledge can be power.
Though knowledge is not always wisdom.
If we allow knowledge to transform us, that is where knowledge really has power. But that’s a story for another day.
Did I mention 52 was the most recent birthday we celebrated for my favorite guy? This was when 52 started beating loud on my heart.
It didn’t feel like just any old birthday. It felt more like the BIG 5-0 I didn’t get to celebrate not so extravagantly (thank you pandemic) almost a year ago. This year, maybe I will celebrate my anniversary of my 50th.
Still, Jon’s birthday feels like it was more worthy of an extravagant party. We talked about having a party this past summer with the theme “50-too/52” to celebrate both of our big birthdays. We had to cancel Jon’s 50th celebration the summer we lost my dad. Here’s a birthday tribute to him.
Seems like the celebrations are far more about honoring life than throwing a party.
Fifty-two, 52, embodies so much. I am sure you can imagine why.
When played in the right key, beautiful music can come together while tickling those 52 ivories. A combination of beautiful notes makes delightful music.
When dealt right or played well, a stack of cards can result in a great hand, a winning combination at poker, or they can be a ruthless game of 52 Pick Up. We may have played poker to celebrate Ian’s birthday last month.
The last 52 weeks in this year have flown by at an alarming and uncomfortable rate. These weeks have felt like a match of “52 Pick Up” many days or a terrible hand at poker for some.
In September, we had so much to celebrate for Jon’s birthday—52 years of living, loving, and laughing on this earth.
I never want to look back on these days, knowing we lived in worry and fear rather than living and loving in peace, focused on faith and healing in comfort while loved by our Father.
Honoring a birthday only weeks after a brain cancer diagnosis seems daunting but was a beautiful celebration. I bet I can give you 52 reasons why.
I think back to Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homily, where he asked about future knowledge; he also talked about the Prophets and the future. Remember The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah holds 52 Chapters in the Bible.
Fr. Mike shared something like, “we may think the prophets always give us a glimpse into the future, but most often, prophets told us what we needed to do in the present moment. Rarely did they tell us about the future…he mentioned the sacrament of the present…we really only find Jesus in the present.”
Those are pretty wise words from Father Mike.
When we look back, it doesn’t make us necessarily wiser. We can look back to inform our future, use the knowledge we have to transform what we have learned to move forward with openness, love, mercy, and grace.
We’ve spent the last 7 plus months walking a journey that we did not plan.
Actually, we were planning a very different vision for the next 52 weeks and the next 52 months. Big dreams we held in our hearts these last few decades were coming clear into view over our horizon.
Walking through the last several months has been nothing short of a miracle, a heap of uncertainties, and a peace beyond understanding that God is in control. He is the only one who has the authority to number our days.
Did you know authority relates to authorship? Jesus is the word. He is the author—he gets to write our story.
I can tell you 52 stories where I am certain peace beyond understanding came into view as I drove back and forth to hear the unthinkable and focus on the unknowns of this diagnosis.
While I waited for hours praying to hear the news that encourages you to celebrate (not dread) year 52, year 53, 54…and every year, perhaps every day after that. You get the point.
No one numbers our days except God, and every morning I wake up thanking God for another day.
Our family has been met with suffering. We have also encountered immense healing and supernatural gifts.
We can’t sit and count the minutes, the hours, the days, but we can make every one of them count the best we can.
We can be grateful for the ability to pick up a messy pile of 52 cards or to listen to a composition of 52 notes strung together to make the most beautiful music within the time and space we have been given.
We have been asked more times than I would like and in more ways than just direct questions, “does it look good?” You get what I mean…It’s a question I can’t and won’t answer—not ever.
From where we sit, things look good because today WAS good even when I hobbled out of the orthopedic office this week with a boot on my dang right foot again, for what seems like the 52nd time.
We will continue to turn the pages of our calendar that show another week or 52 more.
We will take each day as it comes.
We will listen to beautiful music.
We will play an exciting card game, maybe a risky game of poker, and sometimes Life may force us to do another “52 Pick Up.” The last 48 hours (or 52) may have felt like that a bit after I hurt my darn ankle again.
In the end, “For I know the well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord plans for your welfare and not for woe so as to give you a future of hope.”-Jer 29:11.
I have come to learn we don’t need to know the future to live well. I learned this after being tried by fire many times. We are only interpreters of the great Author’s words. We can choose to focus on His truth and use our past experiences to inform how we live our days. By trusting, surrendering and acting with knowledge that gives us the wisdom so we can focus on hope and seek joy even if we feel like we just can’t.
God is the authority, the only author of our story. He gets to write my story and Jon’s and yours. And while I would like to know some things about where our future is headed, I know that sometimes knowledge is not really power. I know I really don’t have that much power to alter the course of anything in our future, even with knowledge.
The more we rest with eyes fixed on faith rather than resist the story God has written, the more we can be open to receive it and allow the journey to move us forward with trust.
Today, unwitting, I throw on a trusty old t-shirt. Appropriate as the theme of trust weaves itself into the messages that landed on my ears this first Sunday of Lent. The “T” of this old t-shirt with “Trust” written across it is made with two nails. Nails and Lent…
And how cool is it that I also discovered a 52 this week? Approximately 52 days and 52 hours separated the time surrounding discharge from the hospital (where we were handed a new cross, brain cancer) and Jon’s 52nd birthday.
Only an Author of our story, the true authority over our time, could write a story with details like that.
Fifty-two (52) will likely be a number I won’t soon forget. Stick around to the very end and you will see the coolest revelation in this detail of 52.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings)
Last night before I fell asleep, I picked up a book I started reading a few weeks ago when first given to me by a dear friend. She has been walking her own difficult journey of recurring cancer. I have always been drawn to her attitude of hope.
The book beautiful Hope-finding Hope Every Day in a Broken World is beautiful and is filled with stories of hope. Each story is written by a different voice with different struggles, yet each finding hope and light in a dark world.
As I picked up the book, it fell open to the Introduction, which I had read before. In this chapter, I find affirmation it was time to share the words contained in this reflection.
I open to see the words, “Isaiah chapter 52.” There is that 52 again.
Isaiah, another prophet, is known as the messenger of hope. As I re-read further into this introduction chapter, I read these words, “Life is often a desert, it is difficult to walk in life, but if we trust in God, it can become a beautiful and wide highway. Just never lose hope.”
I could explain the wisdom of the Prophet Isaiah’s words contained in Chapter 52 and how relevant the message is here for this time. Suffice it to say, God’s call to prepare His people for salvation, and they must act with faith. The kind of faith we all can use right now.
Keep the faith, there is hope, and God is close. He is the only one to number our days. We trust this Author’s plan. This is the wisdom we are using to focus on the Sacrament of the Present.
I did not exactly plan to publish this post today, 2/21/2021. I began writing these words in a journal back in the days surrounding Jon’s birthday. I felt called to pick it up and add a few thoughts this past week.
Yesterday, I read the almost final version of this post to my family at the kitchen counter, just as I always do before finalizing anything I write. I do this to have ears to hear the message, the mistakes, and the moment I know it’s ready to be shared with the world. Usually, that moment evokes tears from someone at the table. Usually, that someone with tears is me, thank you Holy Spirit. That’s the moment I know I am merely a pen in the hand of the divine author of my story.
I love to share how God weaves the details of life it’s always with golden threads.
Life is busy here so I don’t always publish things right away, because it can be an exhausting (for me) process with technology, running a home, and teaching my kiddoes. You know, things called life that come first.
So I find this a very cool detail of how God sends love —you just have to be open to see.
As I sit here putting some finishing touches on this post. I am astonished at what I discovered after opening Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in Year app. Take note of the day and date.
Today (2/21/21) is the 52nd day of 2021.
The Fifty-second day of the year.
Only a true Author can write a detail like that.