A Journey of Illness

A Journey of Illness

A Journey of Illness
During the past three years I have been on a journey of illness.  Former moderator of the United Church and cancer survivor David Giuliano called his journey his “Camino de Cancer”.  It is not a journey any willingly travel.  But sometimes things just work out that way.  As someone close to me once conveyed: “These things happen.  Why not to me?”

It was a shock going from walking along in fairly good health to a sprint of hastened surgery, then a marathon of chemotherapy, a long distance run of stem cell transplantation, and then a quick walk through radiation therapy to where I am now in the homestretch of a maintenance therapy regime. It has been a trek of an unwilling pilgrimage which has now entered its fourth year.

When Arthur Paul Boers reflected on his journey along the Camino de Santiago, he titled the resulting book The Way Is Made By Walking.  That phrasing, although not totally original,  is a special touchstone for those who are aware of how quirky the unfolding of life can be.  Just keep walking, or as Pixar animation’s Dory the fish says “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...” By sticking to a sense of journey the way in retrospect sometimes becomes evident.  It is a “hindsight is a 20/20” type of thing. Strange how a change in perspective can reveal a cohesion of events that was there all along.

Jesus was a voyager.  He embodied the way, truth and life itself.  It is so easy to run through John’s verse “thewaythetruthandthelife” that it becomes a flashy blur.  But if we are forced to slow down on the path, the weight of those words and of life itself becomes a bit more obvious, if not captivating. 

The past few years have gifted me the time to process some life events which had been pushed aside as other aspects of living impinged. I have dug into my family tree to figure out how my paternal and maternal family systems have formed, and have tried to adopt a more forgiving nature in fits and starts.  Along the way I have also sensed grace – a continuing presence of God’s leading into what remains an ultimate mystery of love.

One of my favourite Quaker phrases is an encouragement:  “Proceed as the way opens.”  As we are still in the beginning of a new year, may that be an encouragement for each of us as we proceed and encounter others along our individual caminos. An insightful camino to you all!

Photo: Harold and his stem cells