Being Alive for Christmas, 2017

As I walked to church yesterday I recalled this past August when I first received my cancer diagnosis.  A doctor said I could be dead by Christmas.  An oncologist advised that I have a back-up if I planned to teach my scheduled graduate seminar this past fall semester.  Fast forward to today, I taught the seminar, turned in the final grades, and now, on Christmas Day, I am still very much alive.

In my last post I wrote about my Early Christmas Gift – a prognosis considerably more optimistic than back in August.  The past five months have been a journey of discovery.  Here is an affirmation that sums up much of my thinking today:

I tell this cancer these things.  Thank you for teaching me to stop and listen.  Thank you for reminding me what is truly important.  You can go now.  I know that I have things to do, gifts to give, purposes to accomplish.  I require a healthy working body for this.  – Belleruth Naparstek, Health Journey Guided Imagery to Fight Cancer

Toward that understanding, over these past five months:

  • I am considerably more mindful and intentional of how I spend my time.  I do not rush through process, but savor and enjoy each experience more and more.
  • To resolve my overextended existence, I say “No” more often and no longer chase after folks unwilling to respect our mutual time.
  • Today, quality time with my wife takes priority in all things.
  • My standard line that “I am saving that for good” is meaningless as today is as good as it will get.
  • The “forgivability of the error” has never been more pressing when it comes to taking care of myself physically, mentally, spiritually.
  • The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the basis of my sobriety, are as relevant and applicable to my life today as in 1984 when I walked into a detox center.  I share my experience, strength, and hope with others.

As well, over the past five months my attitude of gratitude has deepened:

  • to my wife, Emma, who has been my best friend and mate for nearly 20 years.
  • to my church community at Rayne Memorial UMC where I am spiritually fed every week.
  • to my fellow pilgrims in the School for Contemplative Living with whom I explore and experience the wisdom of the mystics of the past and present.
  • to my colleagues, students, and friends from across the world who have shared their support, prayers, greeting cards, or visited me here in New Orleans.
  • and I am most grateful for the opportunity to walk this earth for the past 65 years along a road toward true self.

So, I am very much alive today.  I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, either in terms of cancer or a myriad of other ways to test my mortality.  But I do know the affirmation I quoted in a previous blog post:

I will get well not out of the fear of dying but out of the joy of living.

is where the action is at for me today.  I look forward to planting and then harvesting the satsuma and lime trees Emma and I gave each other to celebrate our recent wedding anniversary, and all the other experiences that are part of my joy in living today.

6 thoughts on “Being Alive for Christmas, 2017

  1. Hi Robert,

    I rejoice, along with myriads of saints and angels, to hear your words of life and triumph and gratefulness. Thank you for sharing your life so transparently with us.

    Grace and peace to you this Christmas Day.


  2. So very, very happy to read this. It’s a pleasure to read your regular taking-account of joys and meaning in your life. Thanks for applying your awareness and sharing with us. Wishing you and Emma a happy new year.

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