Thursday, April 30, 2009

Peter's Page

I haven't written in a long time...and I likely will only write one or two more times - and it will only be to talk about our upcoming "Cancerbration" - Diletta, Isabella and I are having a huge picnic party on June 6th at Jackson Park here in Windsor. The party will go from 11am until about 4pm. We will be providing all the food and drink. Also, for all the kids (and a few of my friends) we will be having a bouncy castle, face painting and other fun things for the kids. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is welcome...we just want to know who is coming to ensure that we have enough food.

This party will celebrate my remission, but will also celebrate Isabella's Baptism and my Birthday (June 8th). So once again, everyone is welcome!

Canon Peter Walker is the rector at St. Peter's Church in Cobourg, Ontario - my home town. He we Diletta and I in Italy and is a person that I love and trust. I want to share with you what he recently wrote in the St. Peter's Parish Magazine for Easter. Quoted verbatim:

What my friend Jeff has shown me

I have a friend named Jeff. He is a handsome athletic young man in his early thirties, warm and outgoing. It was my privilege to officiate at his wedding two years ago. Jeff and his beautiful dark-haired wife made a particularly striking couple. They had the world at their feet and everything going for them.

I knew they were eager to be parents. Last year "they" became pregnant and in the fall gave birth to their first child, a daughter named Isabella. Though they live in another part of the country, I get baby pictures regularly sent to me through the internet. To watch the growth of their adorable child (blessed with her mother's dark hair), from newborn to half-year old, delights me.

I relate this story because just at the time Isabella was born, Jeff was diagnosed with a serious cancer. It gobsmacked him. It completely floored his family and friends. How could this trim, fit, healthy young man be so sick? Whatever happened? All the troubling Good Friday questions assailed us: "Why, what evil has he done?" The news sent everyone reeling, me included: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken him?"

I remembered Jesus' words: "Let not your hearts be troubled". But my heart was troubled! The awfulness of this sickness, the unfairness, troubled me deeply. In the French translation of the bible, the Greek word Jesus uses is rendered "bouleverse"; a much better translation I think than "troubled" because it means totally upended, our world turned literally upside down! That's what I felt, overturned.

What must Jeff have felt? I quickly learned.

From the date of his diagnosis Jeff started a blog. He let us follow the course of his treatment and know how he is feeling from day-by-day. It is, I think, his way of dealing with the disease - and helping others far away deal with his dilemma. His chronicle has captivated me. In the raw outpouring of his soul, he speaks to me.

It never occurred to me that Jeff had a particular gift for expression, but he does. He is a born writer, honest, clear, direct. I follow his regular blog entries religiously. They comprise the journey of a soul: a young troubled soul struggling to keep faith, to "hang on" in full process of treatment. I have wept with Jeff from afar and smiled at his baldness. He is truthful about the meaning of his wife's love, the woman who so recently vowed to stand with him "for better or worse," promising to cherish him "in sickness and in health;" he is also truthful about the meaning of his daughter, the infant who so inspires him to further courage.

Jeff's blog reveals a man of deep character. So with countless others I pray for this young man whose life was suddenly 'bouleverse', upended. I pray also for his wife and daughter, for his extended family, for his doctors and nurses, their healing arts, for his friends and caregivers. We all need help to deal with difficult reality!

Jeff's roller-coaster life careens from pathos to bathos, from setback to success. Hanging on for the emotional ride challenging. Yet, in faith, he has hung on. Today I heard 'good news'. In his blog Jeff writes that it was been 161 days from diagnosis to remission. Such joy! Dare I believe it? Dare I allow myself to believe that his hope, faith, and courage is rewarded? Dare I believe that he has returned to his home and family and is gaining fresh strength by the day? Dare I believe that a new day has dawned? These are Easter questions.

For those who dare to hope and believe, for those who keep faith, Easter comes. Not always in the precise way we want it perhaps, but Easter comes. Alleluia!

Peter Walker


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