I am actually feeling much graced tonight.
Ignatian stuff ~ In the "everything is connected" category: I emailed my summer retreat director and asked him how his best friend, who died last summer, had lived fully in the context of all the demands that a serious illness forces upon you. He responded in part that his friend was a person of deep prayer who focused upon living and serving, and not upon his illness. He did not seem to think that that approach is beyond me.
Then another Jesuit posted a homily today in which he talks about using all that God gives us. I posted a comment to the effect that one of the messages in my Ignatian retreat of six years ago was that I should "use yourself up. Make use of everything you've been given until you've exhausted it all."
My regular life ~ I have said more than once that it is quite some privilege, to have to contend with breast cancer in the context of having just been ordained into ministry. In part, I really don't have a lot of time for moping around ~ an activity at which I am sure I could become quite expert, given the chance. But more importantly, I have a seemingly endless stream of opportunities in which to provide care and hope to other people, who seem to welcome the presence of someone who has needs of her own. I suppose that there is no possible way, given the circumstances, that I could come across as overly self-confident, which may be a great blessing.
Suicide ~ I have noticed something really interesting over the past two months. People TALK about breast cancer. People talk about it freely and openly, ways in which people DON'T talk about suicide.
The Lovely Daughter was astonished, at first. "People don't usually even say the word 'breast!' " she exclaimed. "And yet you keep meeting women who were strangers only moments earlier, and next thing you know, they're pulling up their shirts to show you their reconstructed breasts!"
But I have noticed quite a difference between conversations about breast cancer, even where older and more reticent women are involved, and conversations about suicide, which tend to stop even the most voluble folks in their tracks.
And so I've been thinking about that quite a bit. I haven't seen myself as a suicide prevention activist at all. But now I wonder. There are thousands ~ millions ~ of people willing to talk openly about breast cancer. There are very few of us who have been forced to become fearless in our discussions of suicide. And we all know that it is by bringing evil into the light that you destroy it.
In my personal life, the evil of depression has taken a lot more territory than that of cancer. Maybe, when this acute phase is over, I am being called to turn some of my attention to that most insidious of killers, clinical depression.
It would be odd, wouldn't it, if having breast cancer turned me into a noisy and irritating voice aimed at the eradication of suicide?