Rod Dreher

Andy Crouch, contemplating the possibility of lung cancer at age 42 after troubling medical test results, thinks of three things:

First, I love the world. E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web: “All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.” Yes.
The Apostle John: “Do not love the world or the things in the world . . . for the the world and its desire are passing away.” Also, yes. But John also wrote that Another loved the world enough to give his life for its healing and restoration. I hope I love the world in that way, love its beauty and brokenness enough to give myself for it, enough to live and die well in it.
Second, my life has been blessed beyond my greatest hopes. What if the scan, and all the tests and procedures that would surely follow, showed the worst possible result? I could not believe I would be angry. “Why me?” many people ask upon a diagnosis of serious illness. It’s an understandable question, but I honestly believe I would ask along with many others, “Why not me?” I will surely die. People die every day, with far less blessing and hope than I have known. They die young–much younger than me. They die alone. They die without reason. Why should I not die with them? I do not want to die, but I am not angry that I will die–what truly perplexes and angers me are many other deaths, not my own. All I can say for my life is, “Thank you.” I will never be able to say it enough, and I hope I will say it upon the edge of death.
Third, love is the only thing that is finally real. This morning there was a birthday cake on the counter–an apple cake, the recipe handed down from my grandmother Mimama, baked by my mother countless times in my childhood, a recipe laden with butter and eggs and nuts that I make every Christmas and Easter for my family, damn the cholesterol, full speed ahead. This apple cake was baked by Amy, my nine-year-old daughter, lover of paintings and poetry and food, and wild unreasoning joyful lover of her daddy. Forget the round numbers like 30 or 40: the birthday when your own child first bakes you a birthday cake is surely one of the greatest milestones of all.
It all could have been otherwise. Many of my friends struggle to love the world. They have known great grief. More than one person I know shakes their fists everlastingly at heaven, thanksgiving drowned out by rage. Friends have sought children and year after year had none–friends have sought marriage and been disappointed or betrayed or simply “missed connections,” as they say on Craigslist, again and again until they have half stopped looking and hoping. And I have visited these dark places too. I will visit them again. I may betray or be betrayed; I may lose or be lost. One day I may bury my wife. One day I may bury my child. Surely one day there will be a searing moment of recognition–perhaps in a doctor’s office; perhaps in a misjudged moment on a tight turn, on a slippery road, late at night; perhaps late in life, like both my grandfathers, with hearing and sight gone and the world a memory just out of reach.
For those times, for those friends who live even now in those very times and places, all I can offer is this: my little hope, faith, and love. We are in this for one another–your life at the moment of my death, your faith at the moment of my doubt, your hope at the moment of my despair. And mine at yours. And ultimately, Another’s life, faith, hope for us, stretched out on the hard wood of the cross so that all of this, all our birth days and death days, might be somehow comprehended in his embrace.

Read the whole thing to find out more, including how this crisis turned out. Thanks to Patton for sending this along.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus