Friday, March 25, 2011


Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters.
Psalm 69:16 Book of Common Prayer

As soon as I finished chemotherapy, my calendar cleared. No longer would I write hospital on three of every four Fridays, with doctor appointments and blood draws in between. During the first six months of 2007, I could truthfully say to most invitations, “I’m booked.” Sometimes I’d offer a true friend the option of going along on a blood draw and then having lunch out, to take away the (literal) sting.
It’s easy to get mired in the minutia of cancer, the ten thousand details that occupy our minds. Those of us who work during treatment have a second set of details to deal with. As our treatments continue and our strength wanes, we can feel ourselves sinking into our own version of the daily grind. It’s no surprise that a synonym for mire is bog, or that we complain we are bogged down with the many appointments and tests that are part of treatment.
Despite our fatigue and our need to get at least basic chores cared for, it’s important to do things that lift our spirits. One of my fondest memories after my major surgery is of a friend who one sunny January afternoon took me to a deli to choose my lunch (her treat) and then drove us to a local park for a picnic-in-the-car. She drove an hour each way to perform that kindness, and we still both talk of it. To be out in nature, to sing, to play with babies, to visit an art gallery or museum or attend a concert—all of these are ways to assist God in the task of rescuing us from the mire.
With everything else we have to track during treatment—some of us without family nearby to help—it’s easy to think of this as one more item on the eternal to-do list. However, because feeding the spirit doesn’t feel as crucial as feeding the body, because we are already so tired, we are tempted to skip it. We move it to the list for tomorrow or next week, where it may be bumped again.
Spirit and Body are related, though. Not paying attention to the needs of our spirit can be harmful to the body. Being at peace, being mindful of what feeds our inner contentment, and then pursuing those activities, can assist us in ways we do not know.
When I was dithering about my future during seminary, tired of hearing me passively whine, a friend gave me a word picture that has stuck with me. She attended contra dances, which were similar to folk dances. Partners changed during the movements of the dance, as they do in square dancing. She said it was a grand thing to be caught by the firm grasp of the hand of her next partner. It had weight, she explained. “Give the Creator some weight,” she advised. As we pray not to sink in the mire, we need to give God something to work with, in whatever way best feeds our spirit.

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