Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lent of Many Cancers

Our Good Friday service includes a series of meditations on the 7 last words of Christ.  Our pastor asks for volunteers from the creative writers and thinkers at our church.  I volunteered for "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

At the time, I thought I'd talk about the times that we feel abandoned, that if even people like Jesus and Mother Theresa felt abandoned, that we shouldn't let those feelings of abandonment unsettle us too much.

Then I experienced the Lent of many cancers--none of them mine, let me hasten to add.  But all of them afflicting people who are my age or slightly older.  I know that at age 48 I'm officially at midlife, perhaps slightly beyond the middle of midlife.  But still, it's disconcerting when so many people in such a short period of time come back from a check up with a cancer diagnosis.

I'm sure that God hasn't felt abandoned by me during these past 6 weeks.  I've prayed more than I've ever prayed before.

Have I felt abandoned?  No.  But I have felt baffled.  Who creates such a system, where cells can go haywire in such a way?

I've written before about a universe rooted in free will and how it means we will face mistakes, since we're not marionettes.  I've read the theories about evolution and how some dead ends, like cancer cells, lead to other types of evolution too.  But still, I'm unconvinced that God has done the best job possible with creation.

I recognize the hubris in saying this kind of statement.  The world is full of much that I don't understand or fully appreciate.

The Good Friday narrative that leads to our Easter joy makes no sense to me either.  The Bible is full of these kinds of narratives where good is fashioned out of ashes.  I do have faith in the Easter message, that death does not have the final answer.

So, I will celebrate Easter tomorrow, even as I still feel marked by the ashes of Ash Wednesday.  I will move through the coming weeks trusting that God has a bigger vision than I can understand.

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