King Solomon had it right: Everything is beautiful in its time. I am pulling myself out of my pity party with a little help from my friends. This garden sign was a gentle reminder today. As I have pondered this decision to proceed with chemotherapy I am well supported by so many people who have assured me that I have made the right decision. Their relief is often tangible in their messages and phone calls. A Jesuit friend suggested that I could view this as a gift, since in Canada the health care system is free and much of the costs for everything are taken care of. He also suggested doing something I had already done, which was to join in solidarity with other cancer patients around the world. As I begin my treatments, I am determined to find the gift in this experience as well as being a gift to others if I can.
This morning I said a prayer to Saint (Padre) Pio that begins Teach us too, We pray you, humility so that we may be among the humble…. I have stumbled over those words many times over the past many months since receiving this prayer card. I do not know exactly what I am praying for when I say those words but they unnerve me a bit. I asked that I might learn what they mean for my life. It would be later in the day that I open Ann Voskamp’s blog post and see that Eugene Cho was the guest blogger today. He had a hint of the lesson I still need to learn. You can read the whole post here http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/08/when-our-bigs-plans-unspoken-dreams-arent-turning-out-at-all/ but in summary Cho is a pastor who was hoping to plant a new church when he ends up taking a janitorial job instead. Life turned out differently than the dreams he had for a bit. The experience was humbling but he used it to God’s good glory. If I’m honest, he admits, I struggled with my pride. Ouch! That resonated with me. I want to be honest with people about how I am not finding cancer easy but it is humbling. The other day in talking with the pharmacist at the grocery store I began to cry when she asked me a simple question. I apologized and she assured me that was not necessary as she admitted talking to me made her a bit emotional too as someone in her family has cancer too. We bonded for a moment and that was beautiful to me.
Cho goes on to say something that I have been saying too but in different words, words that echo the words from Passover–Dayenu: The Lord gave us enough. The pastor had been on food stamps and he learned to trust God in new ways. My words have been that I have everything I need. Cho examines his attitude and confesses: It was also the process by which He resurrected the dry bones of my life amid the scarcity of faith and trust, and the clutter of so much noise and self-doubt. It was the journey by which God reignited my joy in, and reliance on, prayer.
Again, these words sounded like a deep Truth to me. I still have so much to learn about prayer and while many friends would disagree, I think that perhaps this is where I will learn some of my humility as I let my dry bones be resurrected. When I took the week-long retreat with the Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, I learned that everything could be a prayer. I implemented some of that wisdom but I have lost it in the clutter of the noise of my life. Perhaps I will have life breathed into these dry bones again as I learn to pray at all times. In Ignatian language, I must keep an even more attentive eye to spot God in all things. This includes especially the desolation that will come with chemotherapy. I must bring God into the chair with me during my treatments. God has this and I need to let God work through me.
Cho quotes Henri Nouwen: Just as bread needs to be broken in order to be given, so, too, do our lives. That grain of wheat image I spoke of the other day returns. I must be broken open to be healed. The chemotherapy may be the cure. Surely the poison will kill more than just any stray cancer cell but the hurting may be the healing. This is the paradox we face in life. Cho concludes with something I have said over these past months–he,and I, are keeping our eyes on Jesus. If I can do this, then I can see the beauty in its time.
When you look at the dry bones of your life, what will bring them resurrection?
Recount a situation when the Lord gave you enough. Were you aware of it at the time?
Every single thing is beautiful in its time.
Every little thing.
Yes, even the painful cross-bearing has beauty.
Bread whole must be broken to be shared.
Bread must be sliced to be useful.
Bread of Life, you give enough.
May I humbly keep my eyes on You
So that you may show me the beauty
of this experience.