Can’t help but remember that last year at this time I committed to give up cancer for Lent. It was a very powerful time! I’d finished my bilateral mastectomy, was in the midst of some pretty nasty chemo and was facing radiation. Cancer sort of loomed over me like a dark shadow and when faced with the question of “what will I be giving up for Lent?” God answered the question pretty quickly for me. I remember hearing His Holy Spirit whisper, “Give up cancer for Lent.” At first I was a little dumb and didn’t get it until I realized that all that accompanies cancer — appointments, procedures, treatment, research — well, it preoccupies your mind and begins to form your identity. Jesus was saying, “Don’t be formed by cancer — be formed by Me. Don’t let cancer identify you — let ME be your identity.”
So I gave up cancer for Lent last year and actually have never picked up the bad habit again! This year, free of cancer, I have asked the Lord, “What about this year, Jesus? What can I give up that will draw me closer to You?”
This year the answer has come not so much in a Holy Spirit whisper but in a forced way of life after my recent surgery. You see, I am forced to fast “fast” for Lent. For those who know me, you know I like to move fast, think fast and talk fast. Sorry to those for whom that’s a little annoying occasionally, but it’s just my way. When I come home, I crash, but otherwise, I like being on the go and going quickly most all the time — just my nature.
But the length of the healing process from this latest surgery has me in slow motion. Getting out of bed takes three times as long! So does getting dressed and even walking across 32nd Street from our St. James parking lot to our offices … well, I feel kinda’ like one of those older ladies that folks have to be patient for as they stop their car and watch her slow progression across the street. Now that lady is ME!
No more zipping down the hallway. In fact, no more zipping anywhere. My body is taking its own sweet time to heal and “slow” is my middle name right now!
So I’m fasting “fast” for Lent. Now I’ll admit I’ve been fighting it — and some of us do struggle with the commitment we’ve made for our Lenten fast. But the last week or so, I’ve begun to lean in to “slow” to see what God might teach me in and through it.
My darling niece Maleea and her equally darling husband Nate traveled from Oregon through So Cal on their way to Arizona and have visited us for a few days. Some of my “gold in the road” about fasting “fast” for Lent has come through them.
Snapshot One: Getting out of the car is a struggle. It hurts and it’s a slow, painful process. Every time we were together, there was Nate, opening my door, looking at me with love and helping with gentle, patient hands to assist me out of the car. A memory I’ll treasure forever and, yes certainly, Gold in the Road.
Snapshot Two: Praying in a circle in a parking lot on Balboa Peninsula last night with Philip, Maleea, Nate and myself. Just holding hands in the chilly beach night and thanking Jesus for each other and for this time together (they travel on to Arizona today). To hear my niece thank the Lord for the joy of being together as family when we are not at our best or our fastest (yes, she was talking about her auntie) and what a privilege it was to be with us in this harder time … a memory I’ll treasure forever and well, more Gold in the Road.
So, by Easter — Resurrection Sunday — I may not have my full “fast” back but I’ll be lots better and it’s interesting to me that this “slow” came exactly during Lent. While I’ve being fasting “fast” for Lent, God truly has drawn me closer to Him and given me gold in the road I might have missed had I been traveling at a faster pace.
Thank you for taking time for us, Mia and Nate! Thank you for being part of our lives! And thank you for the Gold in the Road.
Love to all and a pastoral encouragement to slow it down today and look for some Gold in the Road,
Cathie+ and Prince Philip
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.