Meditations from 8/13/2018
“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live”
On a Monday morning, not too many weeks ago, I was referred to an oncologist after my PA found some concerning lymph nodes in my groin. It took me most of the day for this reality to set in. I’ve had friends with cancer and I’ve seen what the process can be like. At its best its a slog through painful dreary days of fighting nausea and fatigue from the chemo and radiation. At its worst its a grueling march of suffering towards death. When I began to process all of the things this journey could mean I became overwhelmed. I could see all of the things I would need to do if my screening came back positive but in that moment I found that the very outer edges of my rationality are governed by emotional capacity. I just didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to wrap my head around all of the things this journey could mean.
In short time I was having a panic attack and promptly reached out to a few of my closest friends. After some time of solidarity and consoling I was able to meditate in solitude and it was in that moment that a small still voice inside of me said “put life before you, not death.” The voice was telling me to focus on thoughts of life and not thoughts of death. This conviction led me to do a google search for “healing from lymphoma.” Simple as that. I hit enter and clicked on the first YouTube video on the top of the list. In the video a women was giving a testimony of how the Holy Spirit led her and her husband to abandon chemo and trust in the body’s power to heal itself. Not only had she found healing from this path but the man interviewing her had as well. I began to watch testimony after testimony of people who had changed their lives and changed their diets and how each of them had been completely healed of each form of cancer.
Immediately the image of the midwife returned to me. I could see that each person on earth is a steward of God’s life in their bodies. We are truly temples of the living God, just as Paul says. What we eat and how we treat our selves determines life or death. Each bite of food, each thought, and every vocational and relational decisions I make either bears the fruit of life or death. And I took great comfort in the thought that the will of God is the will to life. All I have to do is learn to receive it into my body, and into this world. And while I cannot wrap my head around the enormity of that gift and responsibility, let alone comprehend all the ways I am able to receive it, I felt the spirit’s assurance that my groans were being brought to the presence of God. I trusted that following the still small voice would lead me to life. All I had to do was trust and receive. Learning would come along the way.
Meditations from 7/18/2018
We are the Midwives of God’s life in the Cosmos…
The image of the midwife has haunted my meditations for many years now. The more I dwell in it the broader its application becomes. Now its one of the predominant metaphors of my spiritual journey. The image first came to me in Abilene Texas where I lived and worked among the poorest neighbors of our city. At the ripe age of 23 I came to the Stevenson neighborhood in search of a place to express my radical devotion to Jesus among the poor. On the most basic level I had good intentions; intentions born of a heart for God and people. But on another level I arrived as a paternalistic hero who needed relationships with helpless victims of poverty to feed my ego. It didn’t take very long for God to destroy that self made idol.
Through a few friendships with men caught in cocaine addiction I began to realize my own powerlessness. No matter how hard I tried there wasn’t anything I could do to save them. Worse, I was just as trapped in cycles of self absorption as them. Their addiction was a white powder, but mine was the idol of my white skin. It was a hard lesson but towards the end of it I began to realize that I am no one’s hero. I’m not Jesus. I’m not a savior. My friends caught in the grips of substance abuse needed the same thing I needed. I needed someone to help me carry the cross of self denial. I needed the birth canal of the cruciform life. I needed someone to be God’s midwife as the Spirit birthed a fresh wind of life into my mind, body, heart and soul…