Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021…

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11 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Learned and lost? Perhaps 2021 will show us……
    Hiindsight CAN be a great teacher….

    Praying here that, by God’s merciful grace, we haven’t lost our Constitutional Republic

  2. Linn says:

    I’ve learned the importance of staying close to God after being alone so much this year. I’ve learned how much a well-timed text or phone call can lift one’s spirits.
    Lost? Any hope that politics will ever unite us, as well as my faith in any church leadership that closely and publicly aligns with any specific political party or agenda.
    A part of my family that lives out of state has a member with just diagnosed COVID. Two family members who are high-risk are being watched carefully. One of them told me he didn’t believe in the virus when I saw him in October. Prayers appreciated!

  3. Em says:

    Linn, i once heard a preacher say that God was always close – standing, tapping His foot, hoping we’d notice…. Close to God is a good place to be…😘
    Praying for your family (and you) as i type…..
    God keeo

  4. Linn says:

    Thank you, Em!

  5. Rick says:

    Things I have learned in 2020:

    I understand the reality of ‘Common Grace’ better in this year than my previous 63 years. The reality of God’s love expressed through Christians and non-Christians alike in this difficult year. the importance of keeping faith with those next to you and the blessings of those keeping faith with us. In a year of seemingly irredeemable corruption in our political class and governmental institutions I remain hopeful because of this love and grace I see expressed locally.

    2020 has been a most difficult year for the world as well as our nation; this is a year for me personally in which the cancer which we had hoped had been eradicated by surgery and chemotherapy has returned violently–I received the news after a routine scan in August that I have Stage IV lung cancer. I wrote some thoughts to some of my coworkers who have cared for me during my first go-round–I will share them here for any that may find them helpful. For context, Sue is my wife; my past career, before teaching, was as a cardiopulmonary technologist (14 years, primarily in critical care, OR and ER settings).

    The Present: I loved trauma and post-operative care much more than taking care of people with internal medical issues, especially chronic illnesses. The immediacy and urgency of the care, the almost instantaneous results of one’s efforts (good or bad) was much more appealing to me than long-term care where there was little hope for recovery. I likened a terminal illness to being stuck on an elevator, a claustrophobic miasmic cloud of doom. Well, I am here now–and it is not as bad as I thought.

    I was present quite often when bad news regarding the inevitability of death was communicated to families and patients. I was amazed at times with how accepting many were, some achieving an almost peaceful resignation in the moment. I always imagined that I would fight the news, resist it with every ounce of energy, fueled by anger and frustration at things out of my control. But, that is not how it has been. When I was first diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I was struck initially at how hard it was for the ancillary workers in my pulmonary MD’s office to interact with Sue and me. We had been getting multiple scans there yearly over the previous five years and thought we had a pretty good rapport with them. They, as well as Sue and I, were surprised by the diagnosis; we thought after five years that we had had our last scan and would be released to normal life. I sensed that there was a feeling of failure on their part, which Sue and I knew was not true. But I could identify with it, a sense that we ‘let you down’ somehow, an irrational shame, if you will. I told Sue during the time we were waiting in the examination room, after a long wait in the waiting room, that something is different, there was a separation there I had never felt before.

    The news this time, that the cancer had returned, was delivered in my oncologist’s office, very expertly and with great care. Ironically, I have not experienced the claustrophobic dread I had anticipated. I think, if anything, there is a sense of liberation that is hard to describe. The normal things that inspire dread become very small in one’s field of view and the important things, relationships, become a much grander vista, perhaps in the realization that I am a tourist now, not a citizen of this life. My visit is coming to an end, we hope in years, rather than months, but there are no guarantees. There is mourning, to be sure, but much more a sense of grateful awe at the life and gifts I have been given. The reality that, apart from a miracle, there is no cure, that I will die either of this lung cancer, or with this lung cancer, is a most interesting reality; I anticipated being much more combative and resistant to that reality. It does not lessen my will to fight, to cooperate with treatment, though unpleasant, and try to live well for as long as I can. But, I recognize, that while I want others to join Sue and me in praying for life, knowing that, without divine intervention, the day will come when I, and hopefully those who care for me, will be praying that I die well and gracefully. That day is not yet here, thankfully.

    I have seen the process of dying from lung cancer, both in my dad and in a number of patients. Woody Allen once said: “I am not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” I identify with this; the thought of death is one to which I am reconciled, the thought of the dying process is one to which I am not. My preference would be to go to sleep one evening and wake up in heaven–without the agony of the dying process. A grace from God is that I am living in this moment well; the dread of the coming end does not permeate my current thinking to any great degree apart from a few minutes surrounding 2AM. I worked the night shift with so many dying people I think my body has a type of circadian rhythm built into it. Sue usually wakes up in that window as well–we have some interesting conversations.

  6. Linn says:

    Rick,
    First, I don’t want to downplay the difficult news you received, and at the same time I want to express my admiration for the grace and fortitude you are demonstrating. I trust that God’s grace and strength will encourage you as you continue to encourage others.

  7. Em says:

    Praying Rick .. We were blessed when my husband was diagnosed with AML an aggressive form of leukemia that causes one to bleed out of every orifice in one’s body. Before it progressed to that stage, God took him. At home in his bed in his sleep. Diagnosed in November, home with the Lord in March.. Thank You, Father!
    Praying Rick

  8. Rick says:

    Linn and Em, thank you! I have had wonderful examples through the years of people and their families who have endured seasons such as this–and a lot of people praying for us and keeping us close in this time. Sue and I have felt the call for us is to live with a ‘defiant’ joy. We have today; do not let tomorrow and what it may bring rob us of today. It seems so simple to say it, obviously we have heard this expressed often, and in so many ways, through our years in life, especially in church circles. It is interesting to be forced to live it. Again, my gratefulness for your kind thoughts and prayers. And Em, I am so sorry for what you and your husband suffered; I hate cancer. I am thankful for the grace in living and dying that God gave you.

  9. Michael says:

    Rick,

    Thank you for the time and care you gave in sharing this story.
    We’ll be praying…keep us in the loop.

  10. filbertz says:

    I learned in 2020 that, for me, it was usually better that I shut up and listen. I’ve paid closer attention to what others had to say, noted the nuance, gave attention to the details and shades of the story, and made room for the underlying (and often surface level) emotion that garnishes all comments, opinions, and stories. Conversely, I’ve tried to speak less & opine infrequently. I’ve clicked on “delete” and “backspace” far more regularly. Additionally, I’m sorting through what has passed for me as “funny” or amusing–what makes me laugh. I’m more sober on some fronts and less so on others. I’ve shifted away from mockery and sarcasm (somewhat–it’s a work in process as I’ve honed those skills so diligently over the decades) and tried to be more of a recipient than a source.

    As a result, more people are pulling me aside and asking if I’m feeling alright…

  11. Muff Potter says:

    I’ve learned that I am mortal.
    No longer young, but in the Autumn of my life.
    Soon Winter will fall, and death will begin to stalk me in earnest, like the forest lynx stalks the winter hare.

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