" I implore you, my child; observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of nothing (ex nihilo), and that mankind comes into being in the same way..." 2 Maccabees 7:28

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another Inadequate Metaphor

"The tongue is a small organ with great pretensions..."

This is from the bible, but I don't know where. I'm Catholic. And I'm too bloody lazy to look it up in an online concordance or anything equally sensible.

Cancer hasn't really changed me much, or at least not in the ways I would've hoped. One of my most vexing faults is my pretentious tongue. It makes itself known in a variety of ways; sarcasm, telling embarrassing stories about other people for the sake of a laugh (poor Trish, she bears the brunt of this one... but she gives me such great material!) I could go on and on, but this isn't a confessional. My point is this- you'd think that after having faced the possibility of my own death, I would be sufficiently humbled to start to overcome these habits. You'd be wrong. I'm still sarcastic as ever. I tried to give up sarcasm for Lent but didn't even make it through Ash Wednesday.

People sometimes ask me if this experience with cancer has changed me, and I'm sure it has- any significant life experience is bound to do so, or else it wouldn't really be significant, would it? But the change I notice in myself is mainly that I feel more dependent on God than ever before, more disabused of the notion that I can do it all myself. Good health, financial stability; these are all gifts from God but they are not Himself.

I'm trying to come up with a visual metaphor and the best I can do is still rather hackneyed, but... Try this one on. A boater, out on a lake in dark, inscrutable waters feels his boat sinking. so he makes for the safety of the life raft. In the life raft he's dry and safe and secure, but only for awhile as he hears the hissing that indicates he's sprung a leak. So, still exhausted from the trauma of the boat accident, he has to shore up what's left of his fortitude and swim out to the buoy, facing all the unknown dangers of the water again. He finally makes it to the buoy, only to find that it's rotten and won't hold his weight for long...so out into the waters again to find the next resting place.

In other words, I used to think that there were SO MANY lessons to be learned. Now I think there are really very few; only Love and Trust. And just when you think you've learned them, God ups the ante and you begin again.

So. Back to dog paddling, I guess.


Kathryn said...

Cancer has already changed you. It will continue to change you. When you look back a year later, you will be surprised at how much has changed.

It is a great blessing that you know the right ROCK to cling to! It has always puzzled me how those without faith make it through cancer diagnosis and treatment. There are so many mines and pits that you can fall into along the way. Stay the course!

hopeyg said...

Hey Papes,

I'm in the water with you. As much as it hurts, I know that it's those times when all I can pray is, "I need you" that it's those times when I'm really living. Another thought I had recently is in the end it seems that we have two choices either to love or to fear. I just remember your little prayer, "God give me a love that is greater than my fear."

Love ya,

Colleen said...

I have a friend who is an acclaimed writer. His comment to me regarding my MS diagnosis applies as well, to you Faith. Although a different metaphor: "We are all ticking time bombs, and if you can hear the ticking a little louder, that's all the more reason to live fully with as little fear and as much presence as possible."

I want to embroider that on a pillow or something!

My diagnosis has already changed me, even though I haven't had to struggle much with symptoms. I will never again underappreciate just being "normal." And I can say every day is a beautiful blessing.

Br. Robert, OP said...

The verse is James 3.5: "In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions."

The one thing I would add to your metaphor is a voice calling your name from somewhere out in the dark over the waters. We're not just lost at sea; we're being called out into the deeper and more unknown -- and more frightening -- but we go because the One who calls us is the One who loves us.

I've often thought that the whole Christian life can be summed up in two questions: "Who do you say that I am?" and "Do you love me?" At every turn, you give the same answer: You are Christ, Son of the Living God; and yes, Lord, you know that I love you. And then he calls us onward to trust him more and to love him more.

God bless you for your faithfulness!

Tammie said...

One of the amazing things (although it seems like a frustrating one) about the lessons of Love and Trust is that God is continually calling us to go deeper into these - a deeper trust of Him and experiencing His love so much deeper.

So for the analogy, it's like each time God is calling the boater into deeper waters and yet the reward (even if the what there is to hold on to keeps getting smaller) is greater and greater peace!
From a friend of Br. Robert's. Keeping you in prayer!

sheshe said...

My new prayer to God is going to be the following:

Excuse me, God, please refrain from up'ing the ante when it comes to my life because I dislike gambling!! Thank you. However, I can give you a list of names of people I know who like to play a wagering game of cards. :)

This whole life thing is like the toughest workout us humans have to face. Sheesh! I'm signing up for only beginner classes from now on.

Br. Robert, OP said...

SheShe - it's like St. Augustine's prayer: "Lord, make me chaste ... but not just yet!" It's true of other virtues than chastity -- indeed, of all the virtues. Right now, I'm praying, "Lord, make me devoted ... but not just yet!" And I'm trying to drop the "but" off.