Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A New Year

Yesterday I read a blog by a cancer whatever (I have trouble with victim, sufferer, survivor) who spelled out what she had gained from having cancer. All in all, I'd much rather have my year back, my hair back (I have hair but it is curly, steely gray resembling a brillo pad; I'm waiting for it to get long enough to visit the hairdresser and get it fixed in some way), my toes back (I have neuropathy in both feet which causes numbness and sometimes cramps), my stomach back (I'm still recovering from hernia repair surgery), my ability to heal back (I have a skinned knee not yet healed from a fall I took Sept 12). I haven't sensed much upside from this disease. Of course, I just may not be spiritually advanced enough to see God in the suffering. Or I may just be a whiner. Oh, and though I am old enough to be covered through our health insurance until I reach medicare age even though I lose my job in the meantime, I worry about others not so lucky: those who are tied to a job for the health insurance and those who do not have health insurance.

I am just as happy to have this year over. Good things did happen this year. In January, I ventured to Uganda and Rwanda to visit with my cousins, the gorillas. Uganda is a beautiful land and seems fairly well off (for Africa). It managed not to suffer so much from colonialism and seems to have recovered from Idi Amin. Rwanda, on the other hand. . . But the gorillas were magnificent. On my first trek, we arrived at the place where the trackers said our group was near. As we set our gear down, a silverback came out to greet us. He ran not six feet from me. We got very close to the family, including a small baby. It was a wonderful experience. In July, after completing four rounds of chemo, I was off to Mongolia to experience a total eclipse of the sun. This is probably the most spiritual experience of my life. (My favorite so far must be 2006 in Libya). The day finally arrives. You wait in camp, chatting, setting up equipment perhaps (because this one was to be short, we had decided just to enjoy). First contact begins. After some excitement, you settle down for a wait of probably 45 minutes. You play around with the partial, looking at shadows that are little half moons, notice that the light is polarized: in one direction the shadows are sharp; in the other blurred. Then second contact approaches. The sun remains a thin sliver. You watch for the sun's shadow racing across the ground. The west is dark, like a thunder storm approaching, but there are no clouds in the sky. The temperature is dropping. You return to your watch at the sun. Then, you can see Bailey's beads: the sun light shining through the valleys of the moon making what appears to be small beads. Then the diamond ring: that brief amazingly bright spot of light. The diamond ring fades and a moment later the corona springs forth. You rip off your protective glasses (if you haven't for the diamond ring). A shout goes up from the crowd. You can see red flares in the corona. You look around at the stars. It is like twilight, except the light rings the horizon instead of being confined to the west. How much longer? Only a few seconds. Third contact: the diamond ring appears and then Bailey's beads. And then it is over. You talk to folks, particularly those who have never seen an eclipse before. Yes, it was all they had hoped for. An amazing sight.

At church, I have either resigned myself to looking for where God may be acting and holding that up to the congregation for them to see or given up. They are not willing to make the changes that need to be made to reach out to those who are different from themselves. They want to be left alone to die. I don't have the energy to lead them in a different direction. Perhaps that's the gift of the cancer: not enough energy to be frustrated by their self centeredness. My contract is up in September. I don't have the energy to look for a new call. And, by and large, as someone once told me all you do when you find a new call is exchange one group of dysfunctional people for another. (My cynicism is showing.)

My oncologist doesn't think the cancer will return, but I still struggle with the left overs from chemo. I'll probably always have the neuropathy in my feet. It's not bad, but it is there. I hope my abdomen will recover from the hernia repair.

The world eats at my heart: killing in Gaza, Darfur, hunger increasing in Africa. In what once was the wealthiest country in the world thousands are out of work, more hungry and homeless, retirement looks bleaker for many. Health care is not what it should be.

The sun shines. The birds still sing. The squirrels frolick. People care for one another.

People are like leaves of grass they wither and die.

4 comments:

Gannet Girl said...

JC, some years are almost too much to bear. So much joy in the wild world, so much difficulty and sadness in your personal one. God knows I can't change or fix anything, but I can tell you that I am listening to what you are saying and walking a little of the path with you.

Magdalene6127 said...

Joan, I can only say to you what I've said to Gannett Girl: we're here. We're listening.

With love.

Songbird said...

I'm out here, too, with not dissimilar questions and sending my love on this first day of a new year.

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