The answer: how can I stop now??
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I have a friend who is suffering horribly with Stage Four Cancer Poorly Differentiated Neuroendocrine; there is not one single moment that she is pain-free and the pain is off the charts. My friend Chris and her family have tremendous faith and as I follow her “Ups and Downs” – as one of her daughters posted on an internet blog – my heart aches and my eyes weep. It is hard to comprehend Chris’s suffering and there is no explanation as to the questions of “why?” . . . Why??
Elaine M. Prevallet writes in “Carrying in the Body the Death of Jesus” that Jesus never taught suffering as a value in itself.
The postings on Chris’s blog about her cancer illuminate the tremendous faith and love within her family; friends regularly post encouraging messages to support her as she undergoes the pain of this insidious disease. These messages and seeing the love, strong faith, and faithfulness of Chris’s family is heart-warming.
BUT, I still rail at the horrible pain Chris is enduring. At our impotence. At the unfairness of it all (I know: that tired old phrase that Life Ain’t Fair).
I also know the well-worn phrase that it is how we deal with suffering (no matter how small or how large) that is instructive and strengthens our faith and draws us closer to God and to one another.
I know. I know.
I know that like Jesus, we suffer and we die.
I know. I know.
Chris is dealing with her suffering the same way she has lived her life: with courage and grace and unfaltering faith in her God.
However, I hate she has to deal with it at all . . .
I am assured that Chris is in the loving heart of God; God is with her every minute of her interminable pain; He never wavers in this love. No one suffers alone, yet every sufferer is singular and unique.
I know. I know.
But I still hate it all . . .
David Rensberger writes that
. . . The message of the Cross of Christ is not that God will shield us from suffering, but that we can encounter God in our suffering, even as God has encountered us in human suffering. God knows our suffering. Coming into God’s presence as sufferers, we can learn who we are, in our suffering and beyond suffering, and we can learn who God is, the God who suffers and the God who both transcends and transforms suffering.
May Chris be aware of God’s holy presence
every minute of every day.
Two Thousand Nine was filled with blessings (some tears, of course – some laughter).
I am so grateful for my family and my friends – some of whom I’ve met and engaged with via the internet (who would have thought we would be communicating instantly with just a click of the fingers?? Not I – coming from a generation that, in the 1950s, was jitterbugging in the corner drugstore to music from a colorful jukebox – listening to 78rpm records).
May God richly bless all of you.
A friend loaned me Henry Mitchell’s novel, One Man’s Garden. From the little I’ve read thus far in the book, Henry Mitchell was not only a very good columnist, he was a very good man – one you would have been pleased to converse with and to know.
This is one of those books that you can pick up, open randomly and read any section of the novel and be delighted. Thank you, Friend, for the loan of this marvelous book!!
A dear person, assisted by another dandy woman, gave me twenty-two plastic trash bags of horse manure for Christmas, and in last week’s mild weather I got it spread on particular treasures in the garden. Ten roses on their arches had first claim, followed by the planting site of ten forthcoming tomato seedlings, then a dab for a crinum that should have bloomed in the summer but didn’t, and a handful for the Princesse de Sagan (a red rose sitting all my herself), and a bucketful for what I hope is a hardy palm. Like youth, horse manure goes all too quickly. Before you’ve got started good, it’s gone and you wonder how it went so fast.
This is the time to remind ourselves that we have our most beautiful skies in the winter. This sunrise the horizon was thundery dark gray-blue, surmounted by a broad band of orange salmon, then a band of turquoise, and above that a wide band of coral-rose. Above all that the sky was robin-egg blue with a few puffy clouds touched with light red. Of course only steady, wholesome folk (which includes gardeners) are awake to see it.
Henry Mitchell died of cancer of 1993 and there were many articles written about his talent, his giving spirit, and his legacy.
The following is an excerpt from a Washington Post article titled “This bud’s for you,” June 12, 1994:
Henry Mitchell’s children are going out into the world. They – all 215 of them – are the slender bright green seedlings of the many-hued bearded irises crowded into the neutral strip between the sidewalk and the curb in front of Henry’s American University Park house in Northwest Washington.
Henry and a sizable contingent of neighbors put the irises in two autumns ago, digging out the grass, installing boards to define their 6-by-12 bed, putting down sharp sand and horse-manured soil from the pile behind his garage and mulching the whole thing over with straw.
The ‘ever loosening definition of a friend’ has certainly changed with the evolution of the internet. I’m not quite sure how comfortable I am with Facebook and ‘blogs’ and other means of connection via the ease of the internet. Although I DO like the ease. It is immediate. It is accessible. It is easy. And I’ve been having a lot of fun with my Silly Blog.
Because of the internet, I’ve found some dear friends with whom I lost contact. I’ve re-connected with folks I didn’t keep in touch with that often (and have missed). I’ve found classmates and friends who gifted me in many ways and I’m thankful to once again be corresponding with and learning anew about them.
I admit that in the long-ago, when I wrote real letters (well, these letters were not in my illegible handwriting – but typed on my Mother’s Remington and later a Royal typewriter which was then traded for an Underwood – my gosh! I miss those typewriters!); it was simple to correspond in this manner.
Does that sound silly? Well, it might – but believe me when I say that to hold in one’s hands a piece of paper and read thoughts and news and encouragement and sadness and requests is somewhat different from the shorthand of electronic mail.
I don’t understand the abbreviations and acronyms of the internet (I recently asked a nephew what LOL meant! Lox on Lettuce? I asked; he patiently – with exasperation I’m sure, replied that LOL meant ‘laughing out loud’).
With handwritten letters, we wrote full words in full sentences. Goodness Gracious!
A dear cousin [Evelyn by name – who is astonishingly beautiful in body and spirit] still sends an occasional note written in her lovely handwriting and I treasure these notes. Of course, she would be as eloquent if she sent e-mails, but her handwriting causes me to see her in some way. I treasure her letters and notes.
The “ever loosening definition of friend” has become tighter because of the ability to connect by just walking into my library/computer room and punching a few keys to Google a name – and Voilà! I’ve re-connected with someone. THAT I really appreciate.
So, as I think about letters written in a Dear One’s very own hand – letters and cards which are retrieved from my mailbox and opened at my kitchen table (which is where the mail seems to accumulate) and read aloud to Hubby or silently as I smilingly visualize the writer – I am also very thankful for the internet.
And very thankful for friends.
I initially joined Facebook a couple of years ago after receiving an invitation from a friend because I wanted to keep up with what he was doing and be in ‘current’ communication.
Didn’t do anything with it, except now and then visit his site and exchange messages.
Well, I have been unleashed!
My grandchildren are on Facebook and (glory be!), they have allowed me access (invited me as a ‘friend’); several of my cousins and sister and daughter and friends (nieces and nephews and relatives of relatives and friends of friends) are using Facebook. I have discovered that it is a marvelous way to keep in touch; it is almost (almost) like having daily conversations (or at least as often as I log on to Facebook – and recently, that has been daily).
Who would have thought I would be doing this? An old grandmother!??
I won’t be using Facebook for any detective work but I am having so much fun connecting and reconnecting with friends and relatives and viewing old and new photographs and learning what is going on in the lives of these Dear Folks who are a part of my life.
AND, one learns some amazing things. There is some interesting stuff out there – on these Facebook sites. I love it!
Thanksgiving comes early – thanks to Facebook (update on this post – December 1st)
Happy times . . . sadly, only two of these classmates are still living. We have the memories . . .
Two sneaky gals interrupted the perfect lineup!
We are still alive and kicking . . . except for losing Fran . . . she died too young.
We will always miss her.