J Walking

I have, I think, just one more round of chemo left.
When I go through my pill popping regimen tomorrow morning it will be the last time for this particular round of drugs. Twenty-three rounds, it seems, is enough.
What comes next? We’ll go back to what we did after the surgery. We’ll watch and measure and see if the remaining area grows any once we stop. If it does we’ll probably need to zap it with radiation. That we will eventually have to do something else is likely because mine is a chronic condition, not an acute one.
But that will be then. This is now.
I’m still in a round of chemo and therefore the world is a bit fuzzier than it normally is. As such clarity isn’t necessarily found all that easily.
On the other hand though, there is a clarity that comes with chemo that is invaluable.
It is my monthly reminder of mortality, my monthly reset button that brings me back to the point of remembering what really matters and what really doesn’t and the difference between the two. It is kind of stunning that I need this monthly reminder. You’d think, really, that that brain tumor surgery or the regular checkups would do the trick – and they have and do in their own way. But the chemo is different, it is just more regular.
Not that Jesus really needs anymore affirmation but the older I get the more awed I am by him and by his wisdom.
His parable of the seed and sower couldn’t be more accurate – there is seed that falls on ground that is rocky and ground that is full of weeds. It falls on thin soil and rich soil. All of the seeds bloom but only the one in fertile soil takes hold and produces a bumper crop.
Jesus explained it this way,

The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

God teaches us lessons – sews seeds – constantly. The question is whether we receive it and whether we really live it.
I pray that the spiritual seeds that he has sewn through these last two years of chemo have fallen in fertile soil and that in the years ahead they will produce a crop of goodness.

NPR asked me to do a short memo to the president-elect. I chose to do it on the dog he should choose… and why. Check it out.

Livvy is going through an “I’m scared” phase at night. She wants us to sleep in her bed and check on her all the time. As I write, her shades are up, a little nightlight is on, and she’s hugging her Raggedy Ann…and a dozen other stuffed animals… simultaneously.
A few nights ago as I was tucking her in she said, “Daddy. I want to see the angels.”
I didn’t quite get it.
“I want to see the angels that protect me. That way I won’t be so scared.”
I felt like saying, “Yeah, me too.” But I don’t think that she would have understood me. So I told her that no, she couldn’t see them and I couldn’t either but that we knew they are there.
Were she older I would have told her about the one or two times that I felt angelic presence in an almost palpable way.
One of them was 5 1/2 years ago as I recuperated from brain surgery (but not on the sensory part of the brain – just in case you were thinking I was imaging things). Kim and I were so close to God, so dependent on Him for everything. There was no life apart from him. Every night before we went to sleep we spent a good bit of time praying not just for ourselves but for others and also just marveling at God’s goodness.
In the middle of one of those nights I was turning over when I became aware of a presence – an almost electric presence – in the room. It didn’t feel like anything I’d ever come across before. It certainly wasn’t malevolent. But neither did it exude any syrupy niceness. It felt weighty, certain, sturdy, good. As I said, it was was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
I didn’t make the full turn. Instead I just laid there on my back, fully conscious, feeling like I needed to be fully still. And so I was. I wanted to tap Kim and wake her up and try and explain it all but I had this sense that by the time I did that the experience would have been over, the force gone… the sense that this was for me.
But she isn’t older and wouldn’t get that story. So I hold her close and I am teaching her to pray and telling her about the Good Shepherd and all the while reminding myself that I can’t see the angels either but I know that they are there.

Let the world meditate for a moment on this picture:
What an amazing country we are.
We aren’t even up to the peaceful transfer of power moment. That is something extraordinary in its own right – something beyond extraordinary really.
This was just the, “Hey, you just kicked me up and down the football field but you won. Why don’t you drop by for coffee moment.”
I am struck again by President Bush’s decency. He is handling this transition with a dignity and honor that must be recognized. How easy it would be for him to be small and bitter and petty. But by all accounts he is anything but. He is doing honor to the office.
But more than anything I am struck by the symbolism of it all. This newly elected president, this newly elected black president being shown his new office.
It is amazing stuff, wondrous stuff.