Monday began early…as most my mornings have been this past week. I wake around 5am and move from my bed to the recliner to find a more comfortable way to sleep. By 5:30am I am back to sleep and only slightly awake as Nancy, Rayann and Owen begin their normal morning movements around the house. This morning I was close behind them as I had to be at the oncologists for my first chemotherapy treatment. After the rushed call from the nurses, “Not sure your health insurance has approved everything yet…we may push this off till to tomorrow.” Nancy and I stopped at McDonald’s for what is quickly becoming my new favorite…pancakes and sausage. As soon as we sat down to eat the nurses called again, “Everything is approved…we need you here as soon as you can get here.” Yes, it was going to be one of those days.
We arrived by 10am and was escorted back to some of the greatest nurses I have ever met by 11am. We ran treatment after treatment, anti-nausea medication to just pure saline and then the full strength Chemo drugs all day until a little after 4pm. When we finally walked out I was tired, and yet rested (I had spent a few of those hours asleep). I am carrying a pump with me that is continuing to slowly inject treatment over the next 46 hours. My infusion nurse will come find me (I am contemplating playing a game similar to “Where’s Waldo” and see how long it takes her (or him) to find me or simply give up and go back to the office…Nancy tells me that is not appropriate) and unhook all my tubing and I will be free for close to two weeks.
I spent some of my time today reviewing my “Rule for Life”. A number of years ago I was working with my spiritual director and came up with a “Rule for Life”. My “Rule for Life” is a set of expectations or guidelines that are designed to shape how I approach and live different aspects of my life. The truth is that many of us plan vacations, we plan careers, we even plan trips to the grocery store but day by day, hour by hour life simply happens and we do little to plan how we will live into those moments and how we live in a way that shapes who we will be or become. As men and women of faith it is important for us to think clearly about how we will approach life. One of the things I have learned over the years is that if I have not spent time wrestling with such questions when “life is good” it will be hard to put together a plan in the midst of chaos and turmoil.
As I was reading through my “Rule for Life” there was one part that just jumped off the page and grabbed my attention. It is the first few lines following my personal vision statement. I share it with you here:
Whereas I am called to be a steward of all God has given me…
Whereas one of God’s greatest gifts is life itself…
Whereas God knows best the purpose and plan for my life…
I freely offer all of myself back to God…
“Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me. I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.”
prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola – 16th century Jesuit
I read and re read that section over and over.
Six days ago I was sitting in a hospital bed waiting to find out what was wrong with me. Today I was undergoing the first of many chemotherapy treatments. Amazing how life can change in under a week.
“Whereas God knows best the purpose and plan for my life…I freely offer all of myself back to God.” The more I read this “Rule for Life” which I put together during May/June 2005 the greater sense of peace came over me in May of 2016.
The storms were raging. My emotions were all over the place. Yet as I read and re read this section of my plan on how live all aspects of life I felt Christ’s promise of “peace that passes all understanding…peace that world can not simply understand.”