A loon cried in the distance. As Peggy’s eyes adjusted to the dim light sifting into the tent, it repeated its tragic wail. She remembered reading that the Norsemen believed the loon was answering impossible questions with its cry. The Ojibwa thought loons were messengers from the world beyond and the yodel itself foretold of coming evil. Where had she read that? Did she believe it?
She shuddered. With great care, she shifted her body away from her sleeping husband and stood. A spasm bent her nearly double. She knew from months of experience that this pain, as sharp as it was, would subside to a dull throb that would last throughout the day.
She crept outside, collected her Bible and notebook from the car, and entered the screen tent. Lighting the small propane cookstove, Peggy put on a pan of water for coffee. As she waited, the lake came alive with loon calls, resounding and echoing.
Were they speaking riddles, she pondered. Or were they answering the impossible question with which she had been struggling? Was it bad tidings they relayed? She shuddered again.
Nausea, her faithful companion for the last few months, swept over her. That and fatigue had finally convinced her to see her doctor. After all the exams, he scheduled for her to see a gynecologic surgeon.
Possible ovarian cancer, the surgeon said.
Her husband Jerry sat with glassy eyes and trembling lips in the office as the verdict was given. Peggy swallowed her own fear and took his clenched hand in both of hers.
“Why?” he managed. Then he covered his eyes with one calloused hand and wept.
Peggy had known that something was seriously wrong with her body. She had chosen to ignore the symptoms. She had no right to cry.
Climbing into their pickup, Peggy stared straight ahead and willed the tears to remain unshed. She had to remain strong for her husband.
“We’re going on a camping trip, you and me,” Jerry blurted. “We’ll go to that lake you said you wanted to visit again sometime. Just the two of us.”
So, here they were, both trying to forget the impending surgery, both trying to love as if these were their last moments to love.
Peggy laid her head back and closed her eyes. The loons kept singing their haunting melody. Never before had she so disliked their calls.
The water was boiling by the time she opened her eyes again. Pouring some into a mug and tapping in a spoonful of instant coffee crystals, she sighed. Time for her Bible study.
According to the reading plan, she was in the seventh chapter of the book of Job. Her eyes scanned the page and stopped at verses six and seven, “My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are ended without hope. Remember that my life is a breath; my eye shall no more see good.”
“Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,” she mused. But hope and faith had been woven throughout her life. At least, that was, until now. Did the entirety of her life amount to just a breath?
Her attention was drawn to a spider’s web in one corner of the screen tent. As she reflected on the words of Job, she saw the builder of the web reinforce the frail structure and wait at the edge.
She had learned long ago that when she was attentive to the details of the Master’s creation, He would reveal things that she most needed to hear. What would He tell her through this spider and its web?
A large fly droned across the inner screen toward the web. She held her breath as the insect, unaware of its peril, got closer and closer.
In a second, the fly was trapped. All Nature seemed to hold its breath waiting to see the outcome. The loons ceased their mourning as the fly struggled.
A thought began to form in her mind and she stood. She could free the fly before the spider reached it. But the Holy Spirit whispered, “Stop and observe.”
With a final mighty effort, the fly broke its bonds, destroying part of the web.
“Just as I gave the fly strength to free itself,” the Lord said, “I will give you strength to conquer this snare that the enemy has fashioned. Trust in Me completely.”
Peggy wept in adoration of her Savior, the One who held her life in His hands. And the loons remained silent.
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