Saturday, October 16, 2010

All my tomorrows

In the beginning there was tomorrow.
Tomorrow was expected, anticipated, planned for and sometimes looked forward to, but most of all - just taken for granted.
A diagnosis of incurable cancer steals all the banality of tomorrow and can replace it with a grasping, begging, pleading importance. From being something that is not thought of, tomorrow becomes something that is desperately sought after and peculiarly, something that other people who previously never worried about all your tomorrows seem determined to know about.

I am asked - How long have you got? What's the prognosis?
Puzzled I reply, the same as it was before I had cancer...
My life has always been in God's hands.
It has never been measured by time, but by the quality of my relationships - with God and with others.
But this is apparently the wrong answer, an unsatisfactory answer. It doesn't provide people with something to look forward to, or grieve over.
I dont look as though I am dying.
But I am.
And so are you.
The only difference..?
Someone has told me that I have a disease which may well end my life. They can't say that it will cut my life short, because they dont know how long my life was supposed to be.  Neither can they tell me it will definitely kill me because they can't foretell the future. They can only say, if nothing else happens to end your life, this will - at some time, probably, in the not too distant future.
As vague as that seems, knowing that I dont know how many tomorrows I have, still robs me of the ignorance which is the foundation that most of us build our futures on.

Because I don't know how long I have to live, it seems wrong to consider applying for a new post..
It seems unethical to take out a loan. It seems irresponsible to not put my affairs in order.
It seems essential that I make my peace with my God.

But surely this should be true for everyone - not just for me.
We all know we are dying, and nobody knows how long they have to live. So why does knowing that I have cancer suddenly give people permission to believe that they now know something more about my life expectancy than they know about their own? There is no guaranteed life-span, humans are capable of dying from the moment they are conceived.  The simple honest truth is that humans are pre-programmed to die, it is the last great experience of mortal life.

Life and Death are gifts from God, and the knowledge of both are means of grace. Just because we dont like death, doesn't make it wrong or evil! It is not a mistake, a flaw, or a failure to die.
Death is NOT a sign of God's displeasure. Neither did it result from any human wrong doing. It is not a punishment for any real or imagined sin either now or in some distant mythical past.
Death is a part of God's gift of 'being' - whether we like it or not!
Life and death are inseparable - without life there is no death, but without death there is no life!

This is at the heart of the Good News.
Without incarnation there is no crucifixion, without crucifixion there is no resurrection.

The sad truth is that those who dont know they are dying, probably dont know that they are alive either.