Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fearless Living

Today I had a very good report from my doctor, who refers to himself as "cautiously optimistic." In the next breath, he told me of his continuing concern that I would add more cancers to my cancer collection. Women with ovarian cancer are at risk for developing both colon and breast cancer. So even though today has been snowy, this meditation about a spring rain seemed a good choice.

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Psalm 26:3

We had a good soaking rain last night. This morning at breakfast, I noticed the drops caught in the delicate needles of the yew tree, shimmering in the sunlight like stars. They had nothing to do except shine during their brief life. I knew that within an hour the sun would evaporate them, but there they were, at that moment, reminding me of my mother carefully stringing lights on the Christmas tree.
            The raindrops, so far as we know, are not conscious of their brief life and do not fret over their coming to an end. Both the scriptures and great literature remind us as humans that our lives are also short. We are prone, however, to fret over this. And fretting dims our ability to shine.
            There are so many things to be afraid of with a serious illness such as cancer. We fear the initial diagnosis, and the surgery, the chemotherapy or radiation and its likely effects. We fear for our jobs if we are still working and the possibility of our insurance company denying a request for a prescription or test. We fear the effect of the illness on our family and friends. We fear dying in pain or drugged with morphine, leaving our true work unfinished.
            But fear is a useless waste of energy, depleting whatever resources of time and energy we have. Anger can provide fuel, but fear allows our strength to dribble out uselessly. It solves nothing, offers nothing.
            The larger problem, of course, is that fear opposes faith. When I’m afraid, it’s almost impossible to say the creeds with any integrity. “I believe,” I begin, and then wonder if that’s true. How can I say I believe if I am living with fear? Fear will take over my life like a cockroach infestation, disappearing only if I turn on the light.
            Meanwhile, I want to shine each day, be fully alive and present to it, rather than trying to live in the future, which I cannot know. I want to remember that I am caught in God’s love like the raindrops in the yew branches, held for however long I am here.

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