Usually, I collect the thoughts of others that inspire me into a monthly post called From my Reading. This one from Frederick Buechner is so stunning I couldn’t wait to use it. If only someone had shared this “object lesson” with me decades ago:
“If the idea of God as both Three and One seems far-fetched and obfuscating, look in the mirror someday. There is (a) the interior life known only to yourself and those you choose to communicate it to (the Father). There is (b) the visible face which in some measure reflects that inner life (the Son). And there is (c) the invisible power you have in order to communicate that interior life in such a way that others do not merely know about it, but know it in the sense of its becoming part of who they are (the Holy Spirit). Yet what you are looking at in the mirror is clearly and indivisibly the one and only You” (Frederick Beuchner)
I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer, in late 2014. You can read about that diagnosis and about the thoughts that life-threatening disease aroused in me in the series Who Am I When My Body Fails Me on this blog. (To find it, go to the home page and check the category list for this title.) The disease has been “controlled” for nearly four years, but this summer I learned that it has returned; I will have to resume chemotherapy soon. The resurgence of this disease (and my husband’s death in October) have prompted me to think more seriously about the process of death and dying.
I have just finished J. Todd Billings’ book, The End of the Christian Life, How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live. Dr. Billings is a professor at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mi where I live. His diagnosis of blood cancer several years ago prompted the writing of his first book Rejoicing in Lament. Both books are a stunning look at the value of facing and lamenting pain and sorrow and then accepting and rejoicing in the process of dying. The closing pages of his discussion of the meaning of death and the necessary process of dealing with dying give us this ringing affirmation:
“I want to join the birds and the trees and the rest of creation in the grand melody of adora- tion to the everlasting Lord. I live in hope that the frailty and decay of my body will not be the final measure of my life, but that on the final day my renewed body will lift up a voice to join the multitude in the song of praise. I sing now as one whose life is “hidden with Christ in God.” From that place of hiddenness, I look forward to the end. “When Christ who is your life is revealed, the you also will be revealed with him in glory” (Col.3: 3-4).
(Two other moving and encouraging books on death and dying are An Imperfect Life by Philip Simmons and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.)
My “contract” with Word Press ends in September and I have been debating spending the money to “re-up.” I seem to have writer’s block more often than not and wondered if the energy it takes to write is worth the effort. One day I was on the stats page of my blog and discovered the following data.
My first blog was on Sept. 12, 2012. It was actually a statement of purpose and was all of 87 words long. Here it is:
“An apprentice is someone who is learning from a master. As Christians we are learning from the Master, Jesus. Our apprenticeship is life-long. As Eugene Peterson says,(quoting Friedrich Nietzche, of all people, who used the phrase in a very different context), it is “a long obedience in the same direction. This blog will suggest some stepping stones on the journey to a transformed life . . . a life that every day looks more and more like the life of Jesus
So I have been blogging for nearly 10 years. In that time I have written 974 posts. My blog has been read by people in 168 countries (16 of which have only had one reader each.) To me the most astonishing figures came from China (432 views), Hong Kong (348 views) and Singapore (352 views).
After years of serving as a care-giver for my husband, I now have a lot of extra time. I have filled it with hours of reading, for which I am grateful. But a few months ago, I started asking, “What’s the point, God?” I am weak and ill and it seemed that I wasn’t very useful anymore. Everyone with whom I shared that thinking said, “But, Karen, you have your blog.” Those comments and this pursuit of statistics have been very useful. I’ve decided to renew my plan with Word Press. See you all next time!