I was thinking this week of a trip we made to Niagara Falls in Mom's old Pontiac Strato Chief.
I would have been in Grade two as I remember. On the way home we stopped at an attraction called Pioneer Village. It was one of those cultural displays with wax figure reproductions of buildings and artifacts of daily life during the Pioneer Days. I remember it well. Looking back,I think the memory is positive simply because it was a good day for our troubled family and because it caused a chain reaction of good events that helped me later in my life.
Just after the visit I completed a school project on the "Life of the Pioneers." Armed with a child's imagination, several brochures,and mom's help I was able to write (in my own young mind's opinion) an incredible historical and scientific account of life in the olden days.
It was complete with illustrations too! I thought the paper should have been placed in the Smithsonian. The teacher gave me a B grade.
Mom was thrilled with it,and as a reward for staying focused and doing well ,took me out to a local burger joint to celebrate.
Another good day.
I remember that time in my life as a point where I began to appreciate the value of THE PROJECT.
I believe that God has planted the desire to be creative in all of us.
Think about it.
He created the world and all that is,and hasn't stopped creating ever since.
God works in partnership with us (if we choose to accept the partnership) and helps us create a life story that will resonate through eternity.
Each of us is part of a chain reaction through which the things we do and say have an effect on what is,and what is to come, in people's lives.
I have been a project oriented person all my life. I love creating,building and sharing. I love crossing that finish line knowing something I have started (either by myself or working with others) has been achieved. What a feeling!
If you want to think some more about that why not spend some time looking through the Bible with a view to discovering just how God tries again and again, to engage people and get them involved with "Tasks" that demand our best efforts.
Remember too, that God really does not need us to accomplish anything - but he WANTS us. Why?
Because (I believe,in my own young mind's opinion) He just loves to see a plan come together and all things working for good.
God loves to see us cross the finish line with joy in our accomplishments!
That is one of the things that keeps me going through this Cancer battle,even if I can't stand the thought of being sick.
More of that in a moment.
Here is a passage to get you started:
First Corinthians Chapter 3,verse 9 following:
We work together with God . And you (The Church) are God's garden and God's building. God was kind and let me become an expert builder. I laid a foundation on which others have built. But we must each be careful how we build, because Christ is the only foundation.
I love the thought that the Church (People...not the building) is God's personal project!
Reality Check? Time to Honestly be human....
I wonder sometimes (quite often actually) how others who have been affected by Cancer, some other illness or life situation, see God's plan for their lives. It's hard to get focused on the bigger picture when your world has been shrunk by adversity.
Let me honestly share just a few of the the things that I have pondered these past few months. I would be interested in hearing from people to learn if you relate to any of this tip of the iceberg.
Right now, I am still in a holding pattern. I am waiting to get to St. John's to see more doctors and to start the treatment that I know will be making me very ill again. Soon, I will drop off the radar in Gander for a number of weeks to re-enter the fight for life and a future.
I long to be back already. I miss my life,and I miss my Church. I miss working with Revd. Brian and Harvey. I miss the Sunday Worship at St. Martin's. I miss a good steak!
Right now,aside from a few medications I am not having any treatment. Several weeks will have passed by the time I begin more Chemotherapy and Radiation. I am trying to rest and be patient. I am also trying to do something that resembles work and moving ahead. Quite often I find my self wondering if the delay is allowing the tumour to grow again. Each ache and pain sets off a thought pattern of doubt and wonder... what if...what if....
Often I say that I am anxious to get started with these treatments. Let's get on with it! Yet, at the same time, I am thankful for the break in treatment because the whole experience of being sick was very rough. I know that a harder time is just ahead of me,and it does cause uncertainty and anxiety.I feel I am going to get better,but waiting can be so difficult....
Speaking of Anxiety: With any life threatening illness comes questions about your life span. My prognosis is good,but that does not stop me from looking back and asking questions about what I have been able to accomplish during the fifty years I have been here.
" Is there any lasting value in what I have done?"
"What about the marks I have left on people - good or bad?"
"Was I the best Dad and Husband I could have been?"
"And what of the future?"
"How much time do I have left to do "projects?"
"Will I have to spend the rest of my life fighting to be healthy and strong enough to enjoy life?"
"Will I be able to stay the course financially and be able to retire at a decent age?"
"Will there be any lasting value in what I have left to offer?."
"Any regrets?" .....Dear God, It's three in the Morning and I need to sleep. I place all of the past in your hands and come to you seeking healing and wholeness for the future....Now I lay me down to sleep.....
Helpless and Tired... Now that I am feeling better I am able to deal with all the negative thoughts and worries fairly well.
Even so,I can't do the things I used to. Yard work,physical labour,long conversations,writing....you name it...... It is harder to do everything. When you struggle to carry groceries into the house never mind something a little more strenuous,you feel helpless.
Not a good feeling at all!
There were so many things that I wanted to finish both at home and in the parish through the summer and early Fall.
These things are on hold until I can get back to them. I believe that I will be well, and that I will recover my strength,but the waiting is so long.
However , in these moments when I feel helpless I am helped along by my heart's thankfulness for all of the love and practical encouragement from my friends and family.
Thank you everyone for all your the gifts,in whatever form they have come to us.
Relationship Sensitivity Just fancy words that describe how one feels when overwhelmed by the love and kindness of people when hurting.
I have now experienced first hand what I have counselled people for years to prepare for during hard times.
Quite often when there has been a death or serious illness in a family, people are strongly supported through the early stages.
This is especially true when illness has been short and dramatic,or when there has been a sudden tragedy. People's hearts are full, and they come running to help.
Believe it or not, some people find it hard to deal with large outpourings of love and sympathy,preferring to be alone and in solitude. These people however, still need and appreciate the faithful support of their friends. it's just a matter of being caring ,sensitive and available.
People are helped and healed by the concern of others! People do really become the feet and hands of Jesus when they reach out. Love in action is a very powerful and practical thing which brings the power of healing to bear on hurting people.
But.... no matter what the situation,
people must return to their own lives and occupations. Life goes on. And it should. I always remind people that this will happen and you may experience a large vacuum and a sense of "aloneness" . Several times over the years as a priest I gave large amounts of time to people through tragedies . I have also spent much energy through the time following. There is always a time when you know as a counsellor,that you must help folks move on and reclaim their lives. I have always done that through honest conversation and by visiting less frequently to see how folks would do.Sometimes people take what seems forever to get back to living. Some never do.
I remember one man,who had lost a child, coming to me months after - still hurting and grieving,accusing me with anger of never doing one thing to help his family through. Years later,that still hurts. The truth is that I and our Church had exhausted ourselves through sharing the grief and had been rock solid through the whole thing.
When someone is angry at God,they will in one way or another express that anger toward anyone who is God's "representative" .
I cannot even begin to adequately express my appreciation and love for the way everyone has responded to me and Karen during this time of trial. The power of love and the outreach I have experienced has made a huge difference in my life.
I love my family and friends,and am very thankful for all the love and support. I am counting on it to continue when I head off for more treatments.
I wait and rest in God. I am trusting in all he speaks to my spirit,and in all I see around me.
I wait:thankful for my family,my friends,thankful for the Church,for there I see my Lord, and the working and movement of His Holy Spirit. It is all around us.
We have faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
Ephesians Chapter 2
Reminds me of God's love and support. It reminds me that he is working in my life to create something beautiful,and I accept the fact that Cancer is going to be part of the picture of my life's story.
My friend ,thank you for reading.
My prayer today is that you too will see that you are His personal project! That you will know that God loves you and is very concerned about each moment you live.
Whatever comes in your life ,remember that he is working something beautiful in you . It is something that you cannot even imagine.....a reality that will be revealed to you in the fullness of His Grace,and in the time that He knows is best.
May Peace and Love rest upon you.