When someone asked my Yorkshire grandfather how he was, he always said “managing”. Managing is an appropriate word to describe how one deals with cancer and it’s treatments. One has to manage at many levels. Going in daily for radiation disrupts the day and requires a management of daily time. It’s difficult to manage when each time one sits down sleep beckons and has to be resisted.

Earlier this week I was greeted by people who offered me their opinion on how much time I have left before I shuffle of this mortal coil. One was kind enough to say that I had six years, the other said two. Job’s comforters live. Others assure me that conventional cancer treatment doesn’t work and that I should try something else. All are concerned and care about me. And have you noticed that there is a television conspiracy?  The shows one watches suddenly include in their plots people whose lives are measured to their finality!


Now all this is probably to be expected and has an Advent aspect. This season bids us manage our lives in the context of mortality. He comes as a baby, He comes when we are called home, He comes again to judge “both the quick and the dead”.  We are to be ready. If I were as managed in my prayer life as I am going to daily radiation, so ready to do as I am told as I lie still on that cold table anchored in place by a mash mask as the machine zapps behind my eyes, I might get a stained glass window.  If I heeded the warnings of my friends I might grow in holiness. If I were more open to differing forms of spiritual truths I might grow in faith.


I know there is worse to come. Once radiation ends in early January chemotherapy will start with the risk that it will damage vital organs as well as the bad protein which pumps through my veins. I will feel sick, be sick, and have to manage all this alone. Oh pity me!!  But Advent reminds me that being a Christian is not all about the birds that sing, butterflies and peace. It is about suffering and offering personal suffering “in Christ” for others. Advent reminds us that this holy Child will suffer and that in a mysterious way all suffering offered through Christ is redemptive.


God help me to manage and to learn from Advent and from my condition.


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