I had a Cancer Scare!
…….. And I need to write about that this week.
It all began a little over two months ago …….. out of the blue …… when life was going smoothly and all was well. I’ve very few medical problems aside from some inevitable aging issues passed down the line among family members.
And then …….. there it was. A sign that something was wrong and things were about to change. What was going on!?!
Appointments were made and, one by one, tests began to return negative biopsies and hope started to settle in. I was on the threshold of life where the outcome was uncertain ~ 75% chance of cancer in a woman my age. Slowing down and getting myself prepared for any possibility was a process that took me deeper into the letting go of where I might be holding onto the past. What did I most want to experience in my life at this time? What have I not done that I still want to put into my life? I recognized this process from times before when life threw me a curve ball and I was given a choice to stay stuck or take a leap.
““Order” must be deconstructed by the trials and vagaries of life. We must go through a period of “disorder” to grow up.”
The day of my surgery finally arrived last week. Everything went well and then it was a time of waiting. I would know in about a week what the results were. I found myself ready to be in whatever place life put me. I’d survived many things in this amazing life and I’d get through this too …….. even if it were cancer leading to death. I would see this through.
“Only in the final “reorder” stage can darkness and light coexist, can paradox be okay. We are finally at home in the only world that ever existed. This is true and contemplative knowing. Here death is a part of life, failure is a part of victory, and imperfection is included in perfection. Opposites collide and unite; everything belongs.”
While I was going through the uncertainty and disorder of that waiting and not knowing, there was a openness to what’s next in my life once I knew for sure what was going on. Waiting was difficult! When I returned home from the hospital I checked my messages and there was an email from someone who wanted to buy a print of one of my watercolor sketches that I did while in Ireland. My thoughts right away shifted to this new possibility going forward. No more procrastinating and letting opportunities slip away. Who knows where this might lead?
Watercolor Sketch by mlq
Then I read this daily meditation by Richard Rohr OFM which seemed perfectly timed for the long wait for the biopsy results, which by the way were NEGATIVE ……. BENIGN ……. NO CANCER!
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
First the fall, and then the recovery from the fall, and both are the mercy of God. —Julian of Norwich 
Whenever we’re led out of normalcy into sacred, open space, it’s going to feel like suffering, because it is letting go of what we’re used to. This is always painful at some level. But part of us has to die if we are ever to grow larger (John 12:24). If we’re not willing to let go and die to our small, false self, we won’t enter into any new or sacred space.
The role of the prophet is to lead us into sacred space by deconstructing the old space; the role of the priest is to teach us how to live fruitfully inside of sacred space. The prophet disconnects us from the false, and the priest reconnects us to The Real at ever larger and deeper levels. Unfortunately, most ministers might talk of new realms but rarely lead us out of the old realm where we are still largely trapped and addicted. So not much genuinely new happens.
I see transformation and change occurring in three stages: order > disorder > reorder.
A sense of order is the easiest and most natural way to begin; it is a needed first “container.” But this structure is dangerous if we stay in its safe confines too long. It is small and self-serving. It doesn’t know the full picture, but it thinks it does. “Order” must be deconstructed by the trials and vagaries of life. We must go through a period of “disorder” to grow up.
Only in the final “reorder” stage can darkness and light coexist, can paradox be okay. We are finally at home in the only world that ever existed. This is true and contemplative knowing. Here death is a part of life, failure is a part of victory, and imperfection is included in perfection. Opposites collide and unite; everything belongs.
We dare not get rid of our pain before we have learned what it has to teach us. Most of religion gives answers too quickly, dismisses pain too easily, and seeks to be distracted—to maintain some ideal order. So we must resist the instant fix and acknowledge ourselves as beginners to be open to true transformation. In the great spiritual traditions, the wounds to our ego are our teachers and are to be welcomed. They should be paid attention to, not denied or even perfectly resolved. How can a Christian look at the Crucified One and not understand this essential point?
The Resurrected Christ is the icon of reorder. Once we can learn to live in this third spacious place, neither fighting nor fleeing reality but holding the creative tension, we are in the spacious place of grace out of which all newness comes. God is now in charge, not us.
There is no direct flight from order to reorder. You must go through disorder, which is surely why Jesus dramatically and shockingly endured it on the cross. He knew we would all want to deny necessary suffering unless he made it overwhelmingly clear.
Gateway to Silence:
Build on the positive; build on love.
Images from Pixabay