A second cancer diagnosis 15 years later (2001) sent my world into a tailspin for a second time. This time it wasn't just me. Now, I was married with two young children.
In 2003, it was open heart surgery. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy had done much more than kill the cancer.
It has been a difficult journey since day one on this earth. Being born with medical issues from the outset sets a pattern in motion. There have been a lot of good times along the way, but there have been numerous challenges as well.
Why do I share this with you? Two reasons:
1. Today's Gospel reading was the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was busy doing things, and she seemed to be a little bit upset with her sister who wasn't helping. Mary simply sat at the feet of Jesus listening. Jesus said, "Mary has chosen the better part."
American culture is good at telling us to be productive. There will always be work to do. Will we do it in a way that truly brings glory to God? Will we also take sufficient time to sit at the feet of Jesus?
2. I share this with you to encourage kindness and empathy. All of us are carrying a burden of some kind or another. People look at me and can see no outward physical signs of the struggle that has been life. The scars, both physically and mentally, are quietly concealed out of view. The positive side of this is that I have become much more aware of the journey of others, and the scars that some of them are carrying through the journey of life.
Surviving has allowed me the opportunity to thrive. Making use of the lessons I learned through my own lived experience with suffering has brought a ministry to fruition that I would have never imagined. The privilege of sharing in the preaching, teaching, and healing of ministry of Jesus has brought immense purpose to my suffering.
To all of the people who have crossed my path, specifically because of the sufferings we shared, thank you for enriching my life. I especially want to thank everyone who participated in the support group I helped found with the chaplain at St. Joseph Health Center in St. Charles, Missouri from 1986 through 1994. We all grew stronger from hearing the stories of one another.
Who will you bring comfort and consolation to in the days ahead? Blessings to all of you as we begin a new week.