It was early. Pre dawn. I had recently learned of the underlying cause of my long struggle with a chronic illness. It had been one of those good news/bad news things. However, I hadn’t really grasped that, in the beginning. Initially, it had felt as though blazing floodlights had been thrown over a darkened sports arena, temporarily blinding me with the brilliance of hope -that I finally had a decent shot of winning the big game. But this morning, the reality of how this particular game would unfold had come into clear focus.
Toxic mold can wreak unbelievable havoc on people, who are genetically prone (which includes a whopping 25% of the population). That was my deal. Extreme inflammation, from exposure, had severely disrupted the part of my brain (Hypothalamic Pituitary Axis), which controls the balance of the central nervous and endocrine systems. Disruption of the HPA is a common effect of toxic mold exposure, and when those systems become compromised, serious health consequences occur. I had, like most people with this problem, suffered for years before uncovering the cause. So, I had been elated to both uncover the source of trouble and also learn that the cure was simple -avoid toxic mold exposure and then detox the circulating mycotoxins from my body. Slam. Dunk. Score!
I had moved out of my house, which was an older home built over a damp crawl space. The decision was painful but straightforward. When I weighed my house vs my life, it was a no-brainer. Houses can be replaced.
But, that was only the beginning. The more I learned, about how to truly avoid mold, the more difficult (and smaller) my world had continued to become.
I owned a house full of possessions that were now toxic to me. And a closet full of beautiful clothes. And priceless family heirlooms. Antiques. Family photo albums. Hand scribbled notes from my toddlers. Letters from my beloved father, whom I had recently lost. My artwork. A massive collection of music books and sheet music, some of which had come from my grandmother. Most buildings, in my world, had become ‘off limits’ to me, due to their age or water damaged status, severely limiting my ability to enjoy the normal pleasures of social life. Relationships were compromised, because it was so hard for some to understand. I couldn’t blame them; it was hard for me to grasp the complexities. There was not one corner, in my life, that had gone untouched by the greedy fingers of this malady.
Somehow, I had walked through the floodlights of hope into a bizarre world that I could never have imagined. It was as if everything in my life had died, and yet somehow I had survived.
That morning, in the pre-dawn hours, the weight of the on-going difficulty bore down like an anvil. I wanted to run from the reality, so I grabbed my keys and drove…away.
It was January, in the dead of winter. The backlight of pre-dawn cast a gray hue across the endless, lifeless landscape. It seemed fitting that my surroundings appeared desolate.
A picture of my life, it felt.
Tormented cries for mercy pierced the silence, as I drove across the barren landscape. My eyes, swollen from the torrent, barely managed to remain open as the miles passed. But then, just as the first rays of dawn burst from behind the horizon, I crested a hill.
And it took my breath away.
Beyond me lay the wide-open prairie below, bathed in purest, golden light. A distant windmill, poised behind a perfectly azure body of water, quietly stood. The scene was mesmerizing. In one instant, God had cast His golden light onto a barren landscape and transformed it into the most exquisite picture of perfection.
I pulled over, drinking in the magnificence while pondering the deep meaning. On the side of a lonely, rural, highway, Stillness spoke while I listened.
Life is gray and barren -and- it is golden with plenty. There is not one without the other. Elements of each are intermingled, woven in and out, under and through, like the threads of a tapestry. Ever changing, moving toward new patterns in time, old steps will merge into new rhythms, and the gray places of void will be filled with golden opportunities. The gray and the gold threads of circumstance are constantly, masterfully woven into the complex pattern of life -and we can trust the process.
My circumstance had not changed, in those moments. The difficulties had not disappeared. The only difference was that a new light had been cast over the landscape. The dramatic change had presented a different perspective, helping me realize that, in the grand scheme of things, it all fit together and I would find my way through these days of difficulty, as I had done with the other challenges of my life.
On that morning, as the golden light faded into ordinary, I was left with the feeling that one day, I would stand from a distance and marvel that the interwoven threads of each challenge and victory were necessary to the whole.
And I would declare it to be a masterpiece!
To read more about my journey with mold illness: