Thank you, Mike. I too was struck by the same sentence you quoted: “A man does not usually face a crisis alone, but is helped or hindered by the people around him…” (pp.89-91) I have now been on both sides of the equation of dealing with cancer. As a young pastor, I found myself tossing around Biblical cliches and cliches in general. “You’ve just got to eat something Miss Maude.” Little did I know that food seemed to have become the enemy. As a patient, I had an episode where I fixed a meal of my favorite food for me and for a friend of mine. I was tired of people saying to me, “You’ve just got to eat something Lee.” I thought that if I fixed my favorites that I would want to eat. Instead, when I sat down to eat, instead of looking into a plate filled with my favorites and find it attractive and appetizing, what I saw was a glob of things that Abigail, my dog at the time, would happily gobble down. To me, I couldn’t think of putting any of that in my mouth. I just started to cry. I wish I had the opportunity to sit with Miss Maude again. This time I would approach the situation much differently. “Maude, could we just sit together for a little while. I’ll move these dishes back to the kitchen, and then we’ll just enjoy each others company for awhile.”
Further, I have been so fortunate to have been surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses as I’ve faced my own battle with cancer. My 12-Step home group has given me great spiritual comfort as have the members of Crescent Hill Baptist Church. My next door neighbors have taken care of my lawn for 6 years now. Another neighbor takes care of some of the minor tasks around the house – bringing in the mail, returning my recycle bin and/or trash cart to its proper place, etc. A Catholic lawyer friend visits with me every Thursday morning so I can give him a traditional Baptist view of scripture. We use SS literature that follows the Lectionary readings. He gets a good dose of the Biblical Theology I learned while earning my Masters at SBTS in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.
Back to the quote, “A man does not usually face a crisis alone, but is helped or hindered by the people around him…” (pp.89-91), I have not been hindered at all. Well, except for the difficulties I’m experiencing with my daughters, but even there, I am learning patience and acceptance. Cancer is a family disease. They have never had a parent with a terminal illness before. We have had a strong relationship since they were born, and I know they too are fearful. I’m sure that they are facing this family crisis while hearing cliches from their friends. They are having to figure out how to navigate this family disease. My youngest daughter called me last night just to check in on me.
Finally, you’ll be glad to hear, I have also been surrounded by the love of God as revealed in my understanding of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said he would go away but would send another who would be a Comforter. When the pain from this dastardly disease hits, I find that if I stop what I’m doing, sit in my Lazy Boy, and think on “one thing”, my pain. Zen style meditation. Since by its very nature pain is all that I can think about, I don’t try and envision the ocean or a quiet brook, I just focus on one thing, pain. After awhile, my mind goes blank, time passes, and I realize that I’ve been thinking of nothing, so I go back to Step one, Zen style. I concentrate for a little while longer on gratitude for being fairly pain free. I use Romans 8:28 – “All things work together for good….”
I’m surrounded by a great host of witnesses: individuals, groups, church, neighbors, and the Holy Spirit. That’s a pretty healthy way to healing.
Sorry this was so long, but it was my turn to “speak”.