When I was in Nairobi a few years back, I stayed with Pastor Bob and his family. He invited me to peruse his library and read anything that appealed to me. I was captivated by a title by John Ortberg: If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat. It is a great book and I bought myself a copy when I came home and finished reading it. It is the story of Peter getting out of the boat to join Jesus on the sea. I should maybe read that book again as I am needing to keep my eyes on Christ these days so that I do not begin to sink.
I was delighted when I opened Ann Voskamp’s blog today and saw that John had joined her on the farm’s front porch. He was the guest blogger today on Ann’s A Holy Experience. I was so excited by this surprise visit. He wrote about which six words might summarize your life. I was not sure that I wanted to stay with that exercise but I did enjoy reading the renderings of others. He mentioned another book of his: All the Places to Go: How Will You Know? which discusses the doors that God opens in our lives. Do we walk through them? Do we close them and turn away, down a different path? He says one of those six-word summaries might be: Not quite what I was planning.
I lingered there and read some of his suggestions for some biblical characters about their life summaries. Not many of those characters would have predicted either the amazing adventures or the terrible trials they would undergo. Mr. Ortberg had me by then, as I knew he would. If God places us before a door, can we walk through it because it means the possibility of being useful to God? Wow! I am faced right now with not wanting to walk through a door, not wanting this Lent to drink the cup I am being given. I have been praying, as a good Jesuit collaborator, that if I have to that it would all be for the glory of God. If I can somehow be useful to God in this cancer journey, then I hope and pray that I have the grace to continue.
Yes, you read correctly. The surgeon believes I have cancer–a rare form of liver cancer. I am standing before a door to the Unknown and gathering up every ounce of courage to walk it. Until the tumours are removed, he won’t know exactly the details of the cancer, but he is pretty certain of it being cancer. I am no superhero. I would much rather not walk this walk. I am doing Lent with Christ in the garden and completely comprehending why he wanted the cup taken away, as his disciples who would be crushed with grief, lay sleeping nearby. This is not a solo journey, but rather a communal one. If it were just about me, I could stand freely in the letting go. However, it is not just about me and that makes this cup a bittersweet one.
I am getting out of the boat, standing before the door, looking at the cup, and wondering what to pray for. I return to Grace and to keeping my eyes on the Suffering Servant. Surely, I will find my answer there. I seem to have been served a not quite what I was planning drink. As Ann Voskamp would say these are the hard Eucharistos. I am giving thanks for many gifts these days, including in Ignatian terms, the hard consolations. I am not in desolation. God is very much right here with me and for that I am very grateful. A spiritual director friend of mine joined me for Adoration one afternoon, and she, who does not usually see such things, turned to me and saw Christ’s mantle covering me. The protection of God is always there, I heard on my pilgrimage this summer while I was at the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal. I feel cloaked in my faith and find strength to rise. I hope you find the same blessings if you join me on this journey.