Reflections by Jerry Webber

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sitting Still before "What Is"

I'm aware of a desire within me for my life-circumstances to be different, to live in a world that is not my reality. It's not hard for me to spend some fantasy time in that particular world, day-dreaming about what life would be like without the disease that is my constant companion . . . what it would be like to have a different job . . . how life would look if I lived in a place of scenic beauty . . . what it would be like to travel across Europe on an endless budget.

My challenge after nearly three months of chemotherapy -- with at least three yet to go -- is to stay connected to what is real and actual right now, without mindlessly ripping the current days off the calendar as the prelude to "when-things-get-back-to-normal."

Truth is, this is my new normal, at least for now. Early in this process of therapy I was challenged by the phrase in Jesus' model prayer that petitions, "Give us this day our daily bread." The invitation I heard in those words was to find bread each day, sustenance for that day, without racing ahead to what life would be like at the end of the treatments.

How am I being given bread today?

In what ways am I being sustained right now?

So in a sense I'm invited to stand still before what is. I'm called to trust what is, the actual stuff of my life. That's hard to do. It's difficult not to live in the fantasy of "what-if."

The what is of my life contains disease, messy relationships, unfulfilled longings, sometimes-frustrating work. What is stands counter to what ought to be or what should be or even what I would like to be. What is is the stuff of my life as it is, not as it might be. This is the reality of my life from which I cannot flee.

I'm not locked into what is in a deterministic way, but the what is reality of my life represents those companions with which I must make life's journey.

For instance, it is tempting to wish away the disease I live with, to think that life can only be good if it is totally eradicated. I can pin all my hopes for life on the "healing" of the disease, thinking that life will finally be good again when the disease is finally behind me. But that is not what is in my life.

So do I have the strength of spirit to sit patiently before what is, to wait for it, to be still before it, and to trust what it is shaping in my life?

Some days I live into what is, and other days I push against it. The path, as I've experienced it, is not straight and level.

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