Sunday, December 11, 2005

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0017 - Waiting

A friend wrote to me recently telling me about life-changing events in his own life. His survival and triumph was characterized by courage. Although he didn’t say it, the implication was that both he and I have resources which sometime are hidden from consciousness but that are available to us when circumstances deal us a blow.

As I read his note, it occurred to me that the concept of courage was something I hadn’t considered for a very long time. In fact, in the not-too-distant past, I have joked with my family saying, “I sure hope I never get a serious disease because I’m a wimp. I don’t think I could deal very well with life-threatening illness or a serious accident.” Never did I think then that I would face a diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Now, strangely, I am looking for and perhaps finding those hidden resources.

As I reconsider courage, my memory is bringing back material I have read many years ago. Today, for instance, being sure that somewhere in my library were books about courage that I need to reread, I searched for and found two oldies but goodies. The first is Paul Tillich’s The Courage To Be, published in 1952, the year before I was born. The second is another theologically oriented book by a major contemplative of the 20th century, Thomas Merton. The book is a collection of letters and is titled The Courage For Truth: Letters to Writers (published in 1993).

This week is about waiting. I’m waiting for an MRI. Then I will be waiting for the consultation I expect with my surgical oncologist to review the results of the biopsies from last week, the CT scan and the MRI.

There are a number of directions I could take in handling the waiting. There is distraction. For instance, I can simply go to work and do what is necessary. I’ll do that for sure. Then there is research. But I’ve already read so much that there are diminishing returns until I have further preoperative staging information available to me that nobody can provide except the oncologist. It might be smarter to take this week to reconsider what these great men of faith and thought have to say about courage.

Let’s see where that takes me.

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