Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Discernment Dissertation in Progress

I'm musing about and wanting to begin to process an entirely new topic in my blog writing, but before I get started I thought I'd add a cancer update.  Many of you have already read this on my Caring Bridge site, so you can skip it.

I do feel as if I am working on a Ph.D. in discernment.  And while I am good with this decision, more reading late last night reminded me that the complexities are endless and that I am embarking upon (or have been embarked upon, with no say in the matter!) a journey that will affect the rest of my life in myriad ways I can barely grasp at the moment.

I do think that someone should award me a Ph.D. in Discernment when the initial treatment phase is concluded, maybe a year from now. 

And now, from the CB site:


Deuteronomy 30:19 or, Everything is Connected

I've reached a decision and, as many women promised me would be the case, I feel as if an enormous burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I expect to have surgery in mid-November; if you want the gory details, give me a call or send an email or FB message.

Personally, I think the discernment process is more interesting than the medical details. (Fortunately, the doctors and nurses have the opposite approach.)  Herewith, then, more graduate level discernment:

Yesterday I had the opportunity to to teach a class in a Course on Death and Dying for nursing and gerontology students at Cleveland State.  The invitation had come from a spiritual direction colleague, who is also an instructor in the CSU School of Nursing.

As I was putting the final touches on the class the night before, I received, completely out of the blue, a lengthy and moving email from someone who, with his family, has been almost as deeply affected by our Josh's death as we have.  I haven't heard from him in the three years since the funeral, and I was touched, pained, and comforted, all at once, by what he wrote.

The next day, I spent the afternoon trying to convey to those mostly very young nursing students what a privilege and honor theirs will be, to care for the families of dying and dead children ~ what extraordinary roles they will have to play as educators, advocates, comforters, mediators, and listeners.  I don't know how well I pulled it off, but I gave it my best shot.

This morning, close but still a bit uncertain, I taught my class at John Carroll, trying to give my regular students a basic timeline of Jewish, Christian, and  Muslim history so that they will have some context for the Scripture we're about to study.

And then, since I was there already, I walked across the street and sat in the Gesu Church sanctuary for awhile.  In Protestant mode (not!), I looked at the crucifix, and at the stained glass windows depicting the lives of Ignatius and Francis Xavier, and at the statues of Mary and Joseph.  I thought about the letter I'd received night before last, and about the class I'd taught yesterday.

I thought about all the lives represented by letter, class, and art, and I thought about life itself emerging from what appears to be complete brokenness.

And then I knew, with absolute clarity, exactly what to do.

I've communicated my preferred dates, and the doctors' schedulers are at work.

And so: This has been a long and involved process and I have had incredible friendship, support and counsel ~ medical, practical, and spiritual.  I am comfortable with my decision and confident in my medical team.  The time for advice is now officially concluded, and the time for support and encouragement is here.

Thank you! ~ and stick around for . . . whatever happens next.



  1. Please know you have my support and prayers. i don't comment much as I have rheumatoid arthritis and get mega tired. It's enough somedays to keep up with my own blog and just read others. I would love to comment more.
    I follow you and have immense admiration for your courage in life, faith and committment.
    You are an inspiration !

  2. My prayers are with you as you continue this journey. Gad, that sounds stilted. Love to you.

  3. I read all of your CaringBridge postings last night, in amazement, although I should now know better to expect nothing less than honesty, wit, courage... so many adjectives and not one fits the scale just so.

    I will stick around for what happens next.
    I will not say my thoughts and prayers are with you, because I thought if I heard that standard Hallmark line one more time I would puke.

  4. Back from my travels, but never far away in spirit.So nice to read this today. Your journey of faith, hope and love always inspires me. Surrounding you in prayer.
    Much love, Karen EAST

  5. Thank you for the update. Glad for the relief.

    And I'll be sticking around, too.

    Would appreciate invite to Caring Bridge - thanks!

  6. I'd also like an invite to Caring Bridge PLUS your snail mail address--I love to send cards and will send you some while you are recuperating.
    Go here--if this works like it does for blog links.

  7. Guess not--try

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