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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cancer at 2:00 am: Discussions with God

In our weekly meetings, Father Bob and I discuss various things. Cancer is inevitably a regular topic. A couple of weeks ago, he asked me if I talked to God about my cancer. I stuttered and sputtered for a moment and said, "No. I really don't feel the need." He looked amused and said that perhaps it's something that I should try. Grimacing, I told him that I would, but with misgivings.So, for one week, I tried to talk to God about cancer.

It did not go well.

All I did was get angry. And not necessarily about MY cancer, but about cancer in general. We can guess the hows and whys of why more and more people at younger and younger ages are getting cancer, but when it comes down to it, (if you believe in God) you have to accept that God either gave you cancer or allowed you to get cancer - presumably for ultimate good, but it's hard to see that when you read more and more stories of younger and younger people dying of cancers that used to be seen only in the elderly.

***Qualifier - this is not to say that lives of young people are of more value than those of the elderly, but old bodies have had a lifetime of being barraged with oxidants, so it makes more sense, medically, that they would get more cancers.***

The more I thought about it, the more angry and depressed I became. I would go over and over what cancer meant for the many people who, not only have it, but who love and care for those who have it, and finally thought that this comes down to questions about God's role in "natural evil" (although nowadays, I'm not sure that you can consider many cancer "natural evils" because of environmental factors). This has been argued for millennia and I'm certainly not going to be the one to figure it out.

So I stopped talking to God about cancer.

In general, anyway. I know that when I think of my cancer and my cancer treatment and how well it's gone, especially in comparison to others, many of whom are younger, I am nothing but deeply and profoundly grateful.

My discussions with God now lean toward requests for direction. Okay, I'm still here. I have this time. What do You want me to do with it? Please show me what You want me to do with it and also, let me know that with some certainty that what I think that You're showing me, is really what You want me to do.

I'd like to think that what He wants is something big and profound. But my guess is that it will be a 15 second seemingly innocuous conversation with a complete stranger.

I wonder if I'll ever know.

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