Saturday, July 28, 2007

Will I Love Him Still?

I have blogged here before about my friend with the breast cancer diagnosis. It turns out that things are much more monumental than that. A year ago she had not a trace of anything on her mammogram. This year, the breast cancer. But “Radical” “Aggressive” and “Malignant” has spread to her lung, lymph nodes and liver. Now treating the breast cancer is third in line. Liver is first.

The timetable is racing now. Our Happy Hour get together was one glass of wine, the day after her first chemo. And she needs someone to whom she can say the things she does not want to burden her terrified husband with. Her children, who are grown, have taken matters in very different ways. The daughter in the military is braced for anything. The son is angry at God for letting someone who has led a healthy productive life get cancer. As if there were a pecking order by which we value lives. But a natural grief response.

So we meet to talk about her treatment. Her service of Resurrection victory and her desire for a solo/congregation version of “Lift High the Cross” that she wants me to promise to sing. A plan to go wig shopping. And she talks about how blessed her life has been and how thankful she has been every day for what God has given to her and to her family. A loving husband. Grown children who still want to come home and visit. Financial security. Good food, good friends. Grandchildren.

Then she says, “ But how thankful would I be if it was just a crust of bread, just another day of chronic bad health?” It has been easy to be thankful. She wonders if she can love God and thank Him as easily as she heads down a long dark tunnel of treatment? Indeed.

I have been reading The Sacrament of the Present Moment by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, a collection of a Jesuit priest’s letters to a group of nuns in the 1700’s. He speaks of a relationship with God where the more we seem to lose, the more we gain.

"The more He takes materially, the more he gives spiritually. We love him partly for his gifts. If they are no longer visible, we come to love him for himself alone. It is by seeming to deprive us of those gifts that he paves the way for the most precious one of all, because it embraces everything. "

DeCaussade speaks of abandoning ourselves, surrendering to the will of God. When I first read this earlier this summer, I read it in the context of surrendering what I had been doing to answer a call to ministry. But now it seems like a shallow thought in comparison to true surrender. When we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done,” it does include the possibility that God’s will is to call us home even at a time when we were not ready. It is entirely possible to know that heaven is there for you, but still desire to take another turn on the earthly ride with your spouse, children and grandchildren. It is a refining process to see cancer treatment as a way to closer walk with God when so much fear lies ahead. No regrets, just a sadness that this might be it. And yet there is eternal life promised through His grace.

I know that over the weeks to come, my friend and will have many talks and emails. There will be the range of emotions and my role is to listen, support and minister, with a little humor along the way- I suggested a hot pink Mohawk wig was a look she could explore. In the end, I suspect that regardless of the outcome, I will be the one who is taught as much if not more by the Holy Spirit and we will learn in new ways.


David said...

Great book isn't it...and your friend is blessed to have a great friend like you as well. My prayers are with both of you.

Diane said...

I don't know that book... and I want to say just what David is saying... that you friend is blessed to have you at this difficult time. Prayers...

Gannet Girl said...

That's a wonderful book.And I woudl add that you are blessed to have her at this time as well.