Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mike and Oti and John... and CANCER

Gratitude Journal 9-11-12
1. Vulnerability in those who lead and those who lead by example...
2. Willingness to rail against the dispiriting moments humans must face...
3. Friendship - across the miles and years!
4. Belonging - when one feels loved unconditionally by another brother or sister
5. Believing that the walk of faith - though never a cake walk if it is authentic - is the best way to go through life!

You will walk by faith and not by sight... 2 Cor. 5:7

I have a friend (locally) who is ‘fighting’ the BIG C. He has CANCER. When I say he is ‘fighting’ I mean he has marshaled all the resources and options anyone could imagine. He has traveled, read, consulted, tried the old ways and even a few new ones and the road continues to steep for my friend, his wife and family, and our larger community as we walk this path together.

How would such a private matter, with all the highs and lows, affect a whole community? It affects us because my friend has made a decision to share the journey through the written word and with anyone within the range of his voice. He blogs. He talks publicly. He has laughed out loud and cried and railed against this hated disease. He has shared his ‘humanity’. He continues to share from the deepest place inside. He shares from his faith and his soul.

There are times when I do not want to read another posting for fear the next blog will describe some new dark cloud on his journey? But, he is such a gift I dare not miss any opportunity to see what is being offered as my friend pulls back the curtain and invites us (all of us) into his study, into his doctor’s office, into the lab, into his hospital room, into his family, into his marriage, into his 'eternal' life!

I also have a friend in Dallas, TX. She too has recently had to manage the burden of CANCER in her body. Her husband, my college roommate, died of this dreaded disease several years ago. Therefore she is no stranger to the twists and turns associated with this path and how little 'control' she/we actually have when it comes to CANCER. As each test probed and searched her body, she did the same with her doctors, seeking knowledge and greater understanding. What should she expect? How long would she need to recover? To what extent might there be complications? AND she shared her pilgrimage with grace and openness and humor and faith through FaceBook.

Almost forty years ago my pastor’s child was diagnosed with CANCER. My pastor pulled back the curtain on his life experience as a father and husband. He shared the struggle they were going through with this dreaded disease. His nine year old child eventually died. A month later my pastor returned to the pulpit. He preached a series of sermons and eventually published a small book about his experience and what he learned along this bitter path. (Tracks of a Fellow Stuggler)

Unfortunately, because his open sharing and willingness to be vulnerable to his journey, his marriage came apart. He eventually not only lost a child and his marriage, but he also was forced to leave the church of his childhood because of their intolerance for divorced pastors.

Today I celebrate these models of courage and strength and hope that I have received from my friends (Mike and Oti) and the gifts I gleaned from my pastor's journey! There are moments when their words are filled, not only with realism, but also deep and abiding hope.

Lord - bless Mike Veneble, Oti Marsden and the legacy of John Claypool! May I be found as open to You and Your will and may I always seek to be open and vulnerable - even in the dark valleys - about my hope in You whatever turn my path may take...